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CI/CD / DevOps

Level up the Dev Experience with DORA Metrics and Continuous Deployment

If developers aren’t empowered to utilize DORA metrics to better their own performance, then they become just another mysterious set of numbers in a sea of unactionable data.
May 5th, 2023 1:05pm by
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DORA metrics.

If you’re in the know, the acronym might make you shudder.

Organizations of all sizes are striving to implement DORA metrics into their processes, reporting, and development results, all to increase developer productivity.

While valuable, DORA metrics can be difficult to put in place, hard to track, and even harder to achieve top marks. Measuring these outcomes can only go so far if developers aren’t enabled with the right tools, processes, and expertise to meet them. If developers aren’t empowered to utilize DORA metrics to better their own performance, then they become just another mysterious set of numbers in a sea of unactionable data.

In this article, we highlight how to improve developer experience and enable better outcomes through continuous deployment, but there are many approaches to solving the DX problem at your company. What matters is that you identify that developer experience matters and make the effort to improve.

What are DORA metrics?

If you’re not in the know (and not shuddering at the thought), here’s a quick overview of DORA metrics.

DORA (DevOps Research and Assessment) metrics are the industry standard for measuring developer productivity, and provide important insights into how companies use their development teams. These metrics allow developers and technology leaders to understand where they should focus their efforts in order to increase efficiency. DORA metrics are used to assess:

  • Deployment frequency – the frequency of successful software releases to production
  • Change failure rate – the rate at which code changes cause breakages or failures
  • Mean time to recovery – the time between deployment or system failure and recovery
  • Lead time for changes – the length of time between a code change commit and deployability

They provide a clear, objective way to measure and track developer performance, and are an invaluable tool for companies and developers alike. By taking advantage of these metrics, companies can ensure that their development teams remain productive and efficient, while developers can use them to get an accurate assessment of their performance.

How Does DORA Impact Developer Experience?

DORA metrics can help developers to understand the overall health of their code and can be used to identify specific areas that need improvement. Using these metrics, developers can identify problems early in the development stage and make changes accordingly, leading to improved performance and cost savings in the long run. DORA metrics provide real-time feedback which can help developers to stay on top of changes and respond quickly to evolving requirements.

Overall, DORA metrics are an invaluable tool to maximize the success of projects. By leveraging these metrics, developers can gain a better understanding of the impact of their code changes, identify areas that need attention, and quickly respond to changing requirements. This can help developers achieve higher levels of success and improve their development experience overall.

Why Does Developer Experience Matter?

​​Developer experience (DX) matters because it can make or break the success of a developer’s project. DX is about making sure that developers have all the tools, support and guidance they need to complete their tasks in an efficient and satisfying way. It’s not just about providing developer-friendly tools and documentation: great DX also includes creating a developer-friendly environment, offering helpful advice and feedback, and making sure developers have the resources to succeed.

By focusing on DX, companies can ensure that their developer projects are successful, efficient, and enjoyable. This will not only benefit the developer but also the company as a whole by improving developer retention rates and fostering meaningful collaboration between teams.

Layering DORA metrics on top of a shaky foundation with no consideration for tools, communication, processes, and feedback can create negativity among the development team.

So What Is Continuous Deployment?

Switching gears here from establishing the need for DORA metrics into possible solutions, let’s focus on continuous deployment.

Continuous deployment is a process of continuous software delivery where every code change goes through the same automated process, allowing new features to be released in an agile manner. It reduces deployment time and makes it easier for teams to iterate and quickly deploy changes without any manual intervention.

This allows teams to rapidly deliver better customer experiences and shorter release cycles. Teams are able to easily deploy changes when necessary and can quickly respond to any customer needs or requests that may arise. This helps ensure a positive user experience and continuous improvement of the product.

How Does Continuous Deployment Impact Developer Experience?

Continuous deployment is a great tool for developers as it can give them more control over the development process and help them stay organized. It also allows developers to test their code quickly,  push changes out faster, and enables developers to get feedback on their work quicker than with traditional methods.

By using continuous deployment, developers can increase their productivity and make sure they are creating quality products for their customers. This makes it easier for them to stay motivated, which in turn leads to a better developer experience.

All of these factors can have a positive impact on developer experience and help developers stay focused on the quality of their work, not just on DevOps tasks.

How Does Continuous Deployment Solve the DORA Problem?

Let’s break down the DORA metrics, what you or your developer team might be saying is an issue, and how continuous deployment solves them and impacts your DORA metrics.

  • Deployment frequency
    • The Development Team Might Say: “There’s so much red tape to push code live, that I spend more time waiting than writing code.”
    • Continuous Deployment DORA Impact: Deployment frequency goes up; it’s always available, and devs can push code whenever they’re ready, not when a manual gatekeeper allows them to.
  • Change failure rate
    • The Development Team Might Say: “I need to know if the code I’m committing will cause a breakage, causing me to redo work that I’ve already done. Waiting for the Ops team to test and approve is a barrier for me to continue developing.”
    • Continuous Deployment DORA Impact: Rate of failure goes down with continuous deployment because you can test automatically and implement automated canary and blue/green deployments, ensuring you’re not releasing breaking changes.
  • Mean time to recovery
    • The Development Team Might Say: “When I receive my code back hours after I commit because it causes something to break, it takes me longer to assess the problem because I’ve already moved on from that commit.”
    • Continuous Deployment DORA Impact: With good continuous deployment tools and practices also comes easy, automated roll-backs, leading to faster recovery and immediate fixes if a breaking change does occur.
  • Lead time for changes
    • The Development Team Might Say: “I spend a lot of time checking and rechecking my code because I know if it goes out, despite all of our testing, it has the potential to cause an outage. I’m afraid to commit my code because the recovery process is long and painful.”
    • Continuous Deployment DORA Impact: Enabled developers create better code, faster. With continuous deployment in place, teams can commit with confidence knowing that their code will be deployable. Even if it isn’t, then it won’t go to production and won’t break anything!

As we said in the intro, DORA metrics can only get your organization so far. You need to couple them with good developer experience through tools, processes, and enablement.

A development team that is properly enabled through continuous deployment benefits your entire organization. When devs feel connected to their work, invested in success, and can work efficiently and independently, they’re often happier, code better, and release features more quickly, helping bring more value faster.

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TNS owner Insight Partners is an investor in: Pragma.
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