As a proponent of DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA) metrics, I've long appreciated their ability to enhance engineering practices within development teams. These metrics – including Deployment Frequency, Lead Time for Changes, Change Failure Rate, and Time to Restore Service – offer significant benefits in fostering a culture of efficiency and continuous improvement. They play a crucial role in streamlining development processes and improving operational performance.
However, recent experiences with various clients have highlighted a critical oversight in relying solely on DORA metrics. While development teams often take pride in their performance as measured by these metrics, their achievements may not resonate with the broader business. The reason? DORA metrics excel in promoting sound engineering practices but fall short in assessing the actual value delivered to the business and its customers.
Take, for instance, a case with one of my clients. The engineering team made commendable strides in reducing delivery frequency from over three months to a consistent two-week cycle. Yet, this achievement was met with lukewarm reception from the business. Why? Because, despite the faster release cycle, the business didn’t perceive any significant value in these regular updates, especially considering the product was a desktop application where updating carries more overhead than a SaaS product. After three months of bi-weekly releases, there was still no substantial value delivered that justified the update effort.
This scenario underscores a crucial point: while DORA metrics are excellent for enhancing engineering practices, they are not comprehensive enough to drive a team towards overall business success. They need to be complemented by metrics that focus on delivering customer and business value. It’s about striking a balance between technical efficiency and delivering tangible, valuable outcomes to customers.
In conclusion, while DORA metrics are an indispensable part of modern software development, they should not be the sole focus. Aligning them with metrics that measure customer satisfaction and business value is crucial. This balanced approach ensures that while engineering practices are refined, the end goal always remains the delivery of real value to the business and its customers.