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Key Metrics For Efficient DevOps Performance Tracking

The idea of optimizing software delivery performance is not new and many have sought ways of doing it. One common-sense conclusion everyone seems to agree with is: to improve something, you must be able to define it, split it into critical components, and then measure those. From here onwards, opinions on what to actually measure, and HOW vary. Project management , velocity, and code quality may each be important components of the development process.  One team at Google has dedicated years of academic research to this endeavor and has managed to back their hypothesis with real data. The results of this research are the DORA Metrics.

DORA metrics enabled engineering managers to get clear views on their software development and delivery processes  and improve DevOps performance. At Waydev, we believe best decisions are data-driven and help you track DORA DevOps Metrics in an easy to read report.

In this article we will define what DORA Metrics are and how valuable they prove to be, and explain what the groundbreaking research found. Also, we’ll provide industry values for these metrics and show you the tools you have in place to help you measure them.

Understanding What DORA DevOps Performance Metrics Are

DORA metrics are used by DevOps teams to measure their performance and find out whether they are “low performers” to “elite performers”. The four metrics used are deployment frequency (DF), lead time for changes (LT), mean time to recovery (MTTR), and change failure rate (CFR).

The acronym DORA stands for DevOps Research and Assessment (now part of Google Cloud). The team that defined the metrics surveyed over 31,000 engineering professionals on DevOps practices, over the course of 6 years, making DORA the longest-running academic project in the field. The project’s findings and evolution were compiled in the State of DevOps report.

DORA Metrics have become an industry standard of how good organizations are at delivering software effectively, and are very useful for tracking improvement over time.

DORA Devops Research

Did we get any better in the last year? Like most DevOps team leaders, this is a question you probably  have to ask yourself a lot. Understanding DORA Metrics will help you assess your team’s current status, set goals to optimize their performance, and understand how to do it.

But this is by no means limited to them. As we’ll see in the following lines, the benefits of tracking DORA Metrics go well beyond team borders, and enable Engineering leaders to make a solid case for the business value of DevOps.

Where did DORA KPIs originate from?

The origins of the DORA Metrics go a bit further back, when its 3 frontrunners, Nicole Forsgren, Jez Humble, and Gene Kim, set out to answer a simple but powerful question: how can we apply technology to drive business value? 

They argued that delivery performance can be a competitive edge in business and wanted to identify the proven best way to effectively measure and optimize it.

Between 2013 and 2017, they interviewed more than 2000 tech companies and released their findings in a book titled: Accelerate, The Science of Lean Software and DevOps: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations.

Accelerate identified 4 major metrics for measuring software delivery performance (you will find them under slightly different names in the book, but for clarity and consistency with the current DORA naming, we will use the below):

  1. Lead Time to Changes (LTTC)
  2. Deployment Frequency (DF)
  3. Mean Time To Recovery (MTTR)
  4. Change Failure Rate (CFR)

While LTTC  and CFR measure the code quality, DF and MTTR are velocity metrics. If they are consistently tracked, and if steps are taken to improve them, together, they can help DevOps leaders boost their team’s performance and bring real business results.

Last, but not Least Focus on your DevOps team 

In the end, the real takeaway here is: Focus on your team and goals, not on the metrics. Empower them, and give them the tools they need – they will be the ones able to make any changes.

Metrics and tools help your developers understand how they’re doing and if they’re progressing. Instead of relying on hunches, and gut feelings, they will be able to visualize their progress, spot roadblocks, and pinpoint what they need to improve.

This will make them feel more satisfied with their own work, more motivated, and engaged.

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