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Best Practices

10 Engineering KPIs Leaders Should Know Part 4: Progress

Evan Klein | November 18, 2021

Engineering Operations

In 2021, the importance of data-driven decision making across every function of modern organizations cannot be overstated. For modern Engineering leaders, studies show that better measurement will foster alignment with product and go-to-market teams, improve the overall product experience and value for customers, and speed time to market. But exactly which data should you pay attention to? What metrics should you be tracking as your team’s key performance indicators (KPIs)?

In this series of posts, we’ve presented some of the KPIs that can help technical leaders answer these questions. In this final post we’ll review engineering KPIs for measuring deliverable progress.

Engineering Progress KPIs 

As an engineering leader, your primary responsibility is to ensure that your team is getting product in the hands of your users. While Sales and Marketing teams (and their leaders) may have a lot of influence with the executives and board, they all depend on the Engineering teams to deliver. At the end of the day, these business leaders need to plan around delivery for sales and marketing timelines. With that in mind, it’s important to be able to measure and report on the progress your team is making toward that value creation in order to drive alignment across all the teams in your company.

How you present these topics to business leaders will largely depend on the leaders you work with and their preferences. But some great KPIs to track and stay on top of things internally are: Completion / Burn-down Percentage, and Predicted Ship Date.

Completion / Burn-down Percentage

Burn-down is another one of those common Agile concepts that can be extremely useful to track from a leadership position. Burn-down measures the trend of work that has been completed vs. remains to be done over a certain period of time. By understanding how many hours have been worked on the resolved items, for what percentage of the total project that accounts, and how many items remain, you’ll have a fairly accurate understanding of how much work each team member has ahead of her, how likely the team is to complete the work in the next sprint, whether the team is likely to complete the project on time, or if not, what timeline is more reasonable to expect.

Predicted Ship Date

Providing an estimate as to when a given release, project, feature, or product will ship has its obvious benefits. It helps all interested parties in the company (that’s pretty much everyone) plan around the work that they need to do to either support your team or bring new functionality to market. In many companies, these predictions can be hand-wavy, especially when they are done by intuition and experience alone. But it’s better to provide an estimate and need to change it than to provide nothing at all. Better still, if you can take a data-driven approach that factors in things like scope creep over time, metric averages from other projects of similar size and scope, and burn-down percentage through the life of the project, you’ll be able to give a more confident estimation. Engineering management platforms will even sometimes incorporate these factors into a prediction for each of your deliverables.

The KPIs reviewed are only a subset of the metrics engineering teams can and should be measuring. They are not an exhaustive list. But they will help guide your decision-making process and drive more effective conversations and alignment within your executive team and your business.

As the engineering organization scales the importance of measuring and aligning only grows, but aggregating these metrics can quickly become a challenge. Engineering Management Platforms (EMP) like Jellyfish automatically aggregate engineering signals along with contextual business information in order to surface the metrics necessary to maintain a data-driven approach to engineering leadership, providing visibility into engineering investments, product quality, delivery speed and productivity, and deliverable progress of your organization.

Evan Klein