The task at hand: brief your executives and the board on the progress you’ve made this quarter. Leaders and board members want to see what it is your team is doing, or whether and why you are or are not doing whatever is in their head. This can be tough when it comes to engineering. You may know how your team is doing, and you know what they’re doing, but it can be a challenge to present this to the business and board members. In this series, I’ll take you through five slides topics that should answer questions even before they’re asked. For this post we’ll cover slide topic #2, Quality.
Slide Topic #2: Quality
Questions to address (that your board may be thinking, even if they haven’t asked): Why is the product so buggy… why isn’t the engineering team doing anything about it? Do they not realize we lost X/Y customers because of problem Z? Do they have handle on quality over there?
So much of software engineering is battling against the oncoming storm. Any externally visible quality problem, be it a bug or a glitch or something else unforeseen, comes back to the engineers – your team. Get ahead of it and show how you’re managing to the current weather. This will help your leaders and board members understand how you’re facing problems head on. Show your command of the problem by measuring and sharing quality issues on a regular basis and the implied process in addressing them.
Remember, the business will rarely ask to see this, but it’s important to show this slide even if you think the board does not care. This applies whether you’ve run into problems or not. Waiting for the storm to hit is too late. You need to demonstrate command in regular weather. When you address concerns preemptively, you form a more confident bond with the executives and board. This will build trust that you have command of issues and of how well the team is equipped to solve them.
Some topics to include in this slide are:
Externally Visible Quality Issues / Defects Reported
- How many issues are we seeing week over week/month over month coming in (an objective measure of “quality”)
- How many are hanging out there – the “backlog”
Resolution Rate / Approach
- Mean/median time to respond
- Mean/median time to repair
- Issues resolved week over week
- Anticipated challenges (including delays and morale issues or other work being redirected)
- Upcoming busy periods (for example, Black Friday for E-commerce businesses)
Download a Template for the Five Slides to Show Your Board!Download the Template
Being data-driven about the way you present to the leadership team and board will help you align the work your engineering teams do with the goals of the business, and foster trust and support for you.
As your group scales, it can become difficult to aggregate all the metrics necessary to properly build a presentation like the one above. It’s important to keep a steady state of communication with your engineering managers or directors to keep a pulse on things. But there are also tools to help you automate this process. Engineering Management Platforms (EMP) like Jellyfish aggregate engineering signals with business context to give better visibility into deliverable progress, product quality, investments, and productivity of the entire org. To learn more about EMPs or Jellyfish check out our site.