April 16, 2018

5 Essential DevOps Metrics

In a world where users expect timely and responsive updates and where tough competition can seemly emerge from nowhere, speed and agility are essential to survival. To keep abreast these demanding market conditions and deliver innovation to users faster than ever, organizations have turned to DevOps. While there are countless best-practices guides, organizational coaches, executive courses, and more on the topic of DevOps, organizations often fail to recognize when and where their DevOps initiatives are falling short. By focusing on this essential set of 5 DevOps metrics, organizations can ensure that their efforts are moving in the right direction.

1: Deployment Frequency

If you could only measure one thing, it would be deployment frequency. While this metric doesn’t tell the full story, it’s one of the most important markers of speed and agility. A very low deployment frequency means that your business simply isn’t in a position to adapt to changing market conditions well. If releasing only once or twice a year, you risk disruption from competitors who have found ways to accelerate their software releases, and you also risk the ire of users who are frustrated and still waiting for you to address their feedback with new capabilities and innovation. The goal is to move towards smaller, more frequent releases – which are inherently less risky, and which allow your organization to better respond to the market

2: Change Volume

Measuring and tracking change volume helps you temper the effects of solely pushing your team towards a high deployment frequency. It’s all too easy to achieve a tremendous deployment frequency by rapidly releasing trivial changes that are inconsequential to the user experience and to market needs. By tracking change volume and ensuring that net output over time (change volume times deployment frequency) is not suffering, you can have confidence that you are delivering new capabilities and enhancements in smaller and more agile manner.

3: Lead Time

The next key metric to track is lead time, which is the amount of time it takes for code to get from development all the way through to production. A long lead time should be a big warning sign, indicating that any changes to product direction or strategy to respond to market conditions will take a long time to deliver. The goal is to push towards shorter lead times so that your business is nimble and agile and can quickly adapt – or even capitalize – on new or emerging market conditions.

4: Percentage of Failed Deployments

In attempting to deliver new capabilities and enhancements more quickly, it’s important not to sacrifice quality or performance. By tracking the percentage of failed deployments – which are releases that caused outages, degraded end user performance or experience, or otherwise failed to meet end user needs – you can ensure that the increase in agility is not coming at the expense of product quality or brand reputation.

5: Mean Time to Recovery

The last essential metric to track is mean time to recovery. It’s an inevitability that something will eventually go wrong, and it’s important to plan for failure and recovery. By tracking how long it takes the team to recovery from a failure, you can ensure that team collaboration, transparency, product architecture, technical debt, and more are in balance – and that your team, product, and process are robust enough to bounce back quickly from failure. When mean time to recovery starts to creep up, it’s a sign that either the team, product, or process is in need of attention.

Final Thought

There is a cost to measurement, and you have a finite bandwidth in attempting to modernize your organization’s software delivery process. This set of 5 essential DevOps metrics should make it easy for you and your team to track progress and quickly identify areas that need to be addressed. By properly measuring and improving against these core metrics, you can help your organization eliminate inefficiencies, remain competitive, and ensure long-term survival in the marketplace.

To learn more about these essential DevOps metrics and how they provide insight into the health of your development and operations teams check out this white paper, DevOps Metric: Eliminating Bottlenecks to Increase Velocity.

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