Presenting Engineering Quality at Your Board Meeting
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 your team is doing and they need to ensure that engineering is aligned to strategic business priorities.This can be tough for Engineering, especially when you need to address the topic of quality. You may know what your team is doing to improve or maintain high level of software quality, but it can be a challenge to present this to the business and board members that conveys the right sense of urgency, without overemphasizing the problem. In this post, we’ll discuss how to present this topic with a slide template to help get you started.
Presenting Engineering Quality
The 5 Slides R&D Leaders Should Show at Board Meetings includes a slide that can be used for the purpose of presenting engineering quality. Presenting this slide clearly will likely help address the following questions that your board members might ask during the meeting:
- 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 address in this slide could include:
Externally visible quality issues, failures, and defects reported
- How many quality problems are we seeing week on week/month on month coming in (an objective measure of “quality”)
- How many are hanging out there – the “backlog”
- How many production failures or incidents are we experiencing
- 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)
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.
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) 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 see an example of the insights derived from an learn more about EMPscheck out our product tour
Interested in learning more about how to present engineering metrics to the board? Check out our other blog posts: