From Plato Elevate: Build Your Dream Engineering Dashboard

In the ever-evolving world of software engineering, staying ahead of the curve requires a keen understanding of what truly drives productivity and excellence. At the recent Plato Elevate event, our team at Allstacks had the privilege of engaging with attendees, both at our booth and during our hosted workshop, to gain invaluable insights into the critical components of an effective engineering productivity dashboard.

At our booth we asked attendees to whiteboard their dream engineering dashboard. This was purposefully free form so folks could add anything from a top-line business metric or even a metric they do NOT want to measure or be measured by.

Throughout our conversations, one resounding theme emerged: the need to understand and embrace the software lifecycle holistically. Software development is a complex journey, with various stages that can sometimes lack transparency or room for improvement. The engineers we spoke with emphasized the importance of identifying these areas and prioritizing them for measurement and optimization.

Getting a measurement approach in place

One of the key questions we received was how to approach the process of metric selection and measurement. Our experts at Allstacks recommend starting with a focused set of metrics and gradually expanding as insights are gained. This approach not only ensures a manageable workload but also allows for a deeper understanding of the most critical areas before evolving to the next set of metrics.

Establishing an initial baseline for target metrics was another recurring topic of discussion. Without a clear starting point, it becomes challenging to measure progress and determine the effectiveness of your efforts. Additionally, the engineers stressed the importance of defining maturity goals for each metric, providing a clear roadmap for continuous improvement.

At Allstacks, we recognize that the metrics you measure today may evolve over time as your understanding deepens and new challenges arise. Embracing this mindset of adaptability and being prepared to evolve your approach is crucial for long-term success.

Key Aspects of Metrics 

When it comes to selecting the specific metrics to measure, our attendees emphasized the importance of considering categories such as Speed, Quality, Predictability of Completion, and Customer Input. These metrics have a natural friction, making it difficult to optimize them simultaneously, striking the right balance is key to driving overall engineering excellence.  One additional key point, standalone metrics can misrepresent the actions and value delivery of teams and organizations.  Use care when solely measuring Velocity, Code Commits, Deploys, etc.  Although valuable in a grouping of metrics, this type of speed metric will likely mislead when used in isolation.

Many attendees pointed to metric frameworks like DORA (DevOps Research and Assessment) as a valuable starting point. However, they cautioned against blindly adopting these frameworks without ensuring they provide the visibility needed into your organization's specific areas of concern. At Allstacks, we understand the importance of tailoring these frameworks to your unique needs, ensuring you gain the insights that truly matter.

Beyond the technical aspects of metric selection and measurement, our conversations also highlighted the importance of fostering connectivity and alignment between engineers, engineering teams, and top-line organizational objectives. Effective metrics should serve as a bridge, enabling software engineers to understand directly how their work contributes to the company's overarching goals.

Maturing the Metrics throughout 

One suggested approach we have is to implement Quarterly Planning methodologies, defining and aligning work for the next 90 days. By establishing clear connections between Initiatives, Epics, Sprints, and Stories, organizations can create a seamless flow that enhances the developer experience and fosters a sense of purpose and alignment.

That said, it's essential to strike a balance and avoid overreliance on short term Sprint goals, as this can create blind spots and disconnect scrum teams and squads from the broader organizational context. At Allstacks, we understand the importance of this balance and work closely with our clients to find the right approach for their unique needs for measurement information that is helpful from SW Squads to Mid-level Engineering leadership as well as Sr. Leadership.  These groups all have related but unique data needs and each of those requirements need to be served effectively.

Amidst the pursuit of productivity and alignment, our attendees also emphasized the importance of creating time and space for innovation. Dedicating specific Stories or Sprints to research and explore "what if" scenarios aligned with organizational objectives can unleash new levels of creativity and drive meaningful progress. This approach can provide a forum for breakthrough thinking which can result in true market differentiation.


At Allstacks, we have distilled these insights into a set of best practices that have proven successful time and time again:

  1. Build dashboards that truly matter to your organization's goals, utilizing multiple angles of measurement to gain a comprehensive view of Initiative, Epic, and team progress. Our experts will work closely with you to understand your unique objectives and craft a tailored solution that provides the insights you need.
  2. Ensure total organizational alignment, from top to bottom, between engineering work and the company's quarterly goals, fostering a sense of purpose and connectivity. We understand the importance of this alignment and will guide you through the process of establishing clear connections and fostering a culture of collaboration.
  3. Develop a well-defined plan to accelerate from your current baseline to the ultimate mastery of engineering practices, starting with a focused set of 4-5 measures and evolving those measurements every 4-6 months as your understanding deepens. Our team will work alongside you, providing ongoing support and guidance to ensure your success.

At Allstacks, we believe in the power of data-driven insights and the transformative impact they can have on engineering productivity and organizational success. By leveraging our expertise and tailored solutions, you can unlock the full potential of your engineering teams and drive sustainable growth.

Let’s Get Started!

If you're ready to embark on a journey towards engineering excellence, we invite you to book a meeting with our team. Together, we'll explore your specific needs, challenges, and goals, and craft a customized solution that puts you on the path to unlocking unprecedented levels of productivity, innovation, and success.

Don't settle for a one-size-fits-all approach – embrace the power of tailored engineering intelligence and take your organization to new heights. Contact us today and let's start building the engineering productivity dashboard of your dreams.

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