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How to Interpret Software Developer Performance Metrics with Jimmy Jacobson, CTO of Codingscape

In this episode of the Engineering Leadership series, Tracy Lee sits down with Jimmy Jacobson, the CTO of Codingscape, to discuss the current state of engineering teams and their accountability in today's economy. As the conversation unfolds, Jimmy sheds light on the challenges faced by engineering teams in measuring the impact of changes made within organizations during the economic downturn. He shares that companies are embracing more risky bets and investing in research and development to create new job opportunities and drive growth.

One of the key topics discussed is the measurement of developer productivity. Jimmy introduces frameworks that can be used to assess and track productivity: The Dora metrics focus on key performance indicators such as cycle time, deployment frequency, mean time to restore service, and change failure rate. These metrics provide valuable insights into the efficiency and effectiveness of engineering teams.

On the other hand, the SPACE framework takes a more holistic approach by combining output and stability with team satisfaction and well-being, performance outcomes, activities, communication and collaboration, and efficiency and flow. This comprehensive framework provides a more nuanced understanding of the overall health and productivity of engineering teams.

DX is another framework used by many SaaS platforms out there like Jellyfish and Code Climate for dashboards that can visualize and track teams. These tools provide real-time data and analytics, enabling teams to make data-driven decisions and identify areas for improvement.

In addition to these frameworks and tools, Jimmy introduces McKinsey's framework (or “McCringey” as Jimmy puts it), which emphasizes the ratio of time spent in the inner loop to the outer loop for developers. The inner loop refers to the time spent on core development tasks, while the outer loop encompasses activities such as meetings, planning, and coordination. According to Jimmy, the inner loop is where engineers can have the most impact and should therefore be prioritized. Tools like Jellyfish can be used to collect stand-up data and generate a General Purpose Technology (GPT) for engineering, further enhancing productivity and efficiency.

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