What are the best practices for defining metrics to my tech team?

For marketing we use CAC and others. I am trying to define performance metrics for my tech team - 1 metric to make them user focused, another metric to focus the team on building reliable hardware/software (fewer bugs), and another metric to help them focus on 10x innovative projects. Would appreciate any help here.


There is not much background information when it comes to what your company is doing, but will try to provide some tips.

Assume you are working with customers and have some kind of ticketing system in place, so for:

1) I would be sending a very short survey with every single ticket just asking customers to rate the service they have received. Extremely well, Very well, Moderately well, Slightly well, Not at all well. This over time will give you very good indications on how the team is doing and how changes you apply impact customer satisfaction. There are many other important metrics when it comes to support but this one is key.

2) Again, no idea on what your product is about but i.e. in our case we monitor plenty of backend metrics. Successful/failed servers, successful/failed applications launched and so on for most important operations on the network.

3) Don't think that there is really a metric for that. You want to measure impact of new stuff you do in already present metrics and correlate success. Letting people innovate is more a culture related thing and how your organization embraces success/failure (as innovating implies failing many times and people will not innovate if they think they job is at stake)

In any case, for any metric to have any impact, it must be OBVIOUS to every one working for you. Make it AS EASY AS POSSIBLE for everyone to check metrics, try to make this a habit for key people in your organization if not everyone. We send a daily heart-bit to everyone with most important metrics and we have a grafana dashboard for each team, accessible to everyone with all historical metrics where people can thoroughly examine trends and see impact of everything we do.

Building a metric based culture, even if difficult is worth every drop of sweat it takes.


Answered 8 years ago

I would give them similar metrics to the ones you give to your marketing folks. If the tech team builds a good, customer-focused product, on time, with few bugs, then the business results will follow. I have seen too much "gaming the system" with milestone or bug-related metrics. If you want to encourage innovation I have found the best practice is, instead of metrics, to give the tech team he space and privilege to do so - e.g., the Google idea to spend 20% of time on whatever they want, quarterly hack days, etc.

Answered 8 years ago

I've worked as the Head of Product at my current startup for the past 4 years and have consulted as a product manager to several other startups. Your question leads me to believe that you don't have a dedicated product manager or someone who's job it is to envision, design, and build out your product.

The technology team itself should be measured upon "story points", or points assigned to each task that they are assigned to work on. If you are using the agile software development philosophy, you can measure the story points per sprint to see how much work is getting done. After 2-3 sprints, you should have a really good idea of a) who the most productive members of your team are b) where most of the technology bottlenecks are occurring and c) what skills you have on board and what skill sets you will need to hire for. There are very powerful product management tools that can help you for very little cost.

However, the product management team should be the team that is responsible for envisioning and specifying "user-focused" software and "10X innovative projects". The product manager should be a subject matter expert and should be in contact with clients, prospects, and developers to gather requirements and solicit ideas on how to improve your product. From there, the product manager should create detailed requirements (I personally like agile stories, but there are many ways of doing this) and prioritize each task for the development. The product manager is ultimately responsible for the product, how responsive users are to the product and how innovative and revolutionary it really is in the marketplace.

If you want help setting up your product management team or on additional metrics that you can use to improve your business, I'd be happy to discuss.

Answered 8 years ago

I think you are thinking on the right lines. However, as someone who managed tech teams working on products I can tell you it is extremely hard to get these right. You would want to come up with something that you are going to stick to no matter deadlines, sales and marketing pressures, special requests from customers.

Do not get confused between Agile/Scrum best practices with managing people. I have seen teams struggle with estimation and that really leaves the appraiser in a state of confusion on how to judge performance.

Sit down with you team, state your goals - improved customer happiness, reliability and innovation are good enough - and come up with a few metrics, put them in the system for a month or so, review and improve. Do not write this in stone, because each team is different and so is each company.

All the best for a successful product backed by a happy team!

Answered 8 years ago

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