Presenting Engineering Delivery & Operations In Board Meetings
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, and that your team will reliably deliver the next company-moving feature. You may know how much faster and more efficient your team is working, but how do you communicate this succinctly to the business and board members? How quickly your team can deliver innovation and how efficiently your team operates will always be top of mind for your executive peers. In this post, we’ll discuss how to present this topic with a slide template to help get you started.
Presenting delivery and operations
The 5 Slides R&D Leaders Should Show at Board Meetings includes a slide that can be used for the purpose of presenting delivery and operations. Presenting this slide clearly will likely help address the following questions that your board members might ask during the meeting:
- How fast are things getting done?
- How quickly are we shipping new things?
- Are we hitting our delivery goals?
- Why aren’t we doing more or what are we doing to increase efficiency?
- Is the team working hard?
- Have we gotten more or less productive since work from home started? Sales measures productivity, why can’t these guys?
The board and executive team don’t have the same instinct as you do into how efficiently things are being delivered, how well the processes or the team are working, or the “productivity” of your team. To be clear, the word productivity can mean different things to different people. However, regardless of what you think of it or how hard it is to define, articulating macro delivery, operational, and productivity trends can make a big difference in their perception of your abilities as a manager and your team. So make sure to evidence your command over the efficiency of your team. How is your team generally improving? What’s standing in your way? If your company just committed to a new work from anywhere policy, for example, your board is likely wondering, “are we getting faster or slower?”
Often, engineering leaders will tell us they would rather not run a slide like this because unlike sales, it’s hard to provide a fully objective measure like dollars sold. For example, It’s true that very low level metrics like lines of code committed don’t portray a coherent picture of the real work that you’re seeing day in and day out, but instead potentially coding style. But higher level metrics like deployment frequency, issues resolved, or cycle time can be indicators of that work and the general organizational and process health, and they will serve you well to get your point across. Think about which metrics make the most sense to track for your team, that convey general sense of activity leading to progress, and what you want to convey to the board as being most important. Keep in mind that the executive team and board may not have as deep of an understanding for sausage making that are Agile and DevOps processes, tools, and how your team uses them.
While delivery metrics are often fairly straightforward, there is no perfect measure of productivity or team health by any means. It’s worth calling out that some these metrics can be gamed, but they are not meant to be all-encompassing, and they are not meant to be perfect (plus, gaming would require a large, concerted effort as a team scales). The point of them is to show trends and least common denominator heartbeats on health and activity. You and your board will want to know that if there’s a significant increase or decrease in activity, it’s something you are aware of and keeping an eye on, and ultimately taking steps to improve. This becomes especially important to the business during times of turbulence (both to the business and in the world more broadly), and for teams who operate remotely (as is most often the case today).
Just make sure you choose ones that make sense for the story and things you really care about.
Some of the topics you can think about including are:
- Lead time for changes
- Deployment frequency
- On-target Delivery Rate
Operational & Productivity Metrics
- Cycle time
- Tickets/Issues resolved
- PRs merged or reviewed
- How much unplanned work came up during the quarter
- Sprint completion rate
- Story points completed
Specific Highlighted Issues
- Any recent blockers to delivery or productivity issues or trends worth calling out
- Potential solutions
Engineering Metrics for Board Meetings
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) aggregate engineering signals with business context to give better visibility into deliverable progress, product quality, investments, and productivity of the entire org. To see an example of the insights derived from EMPs, check out our product tour.
Interested in learning more about how to present engineering metrics to the board? Check out our other blog posts: