Introducing the Knowledge Sharing Report: Measuring Collaboration in the Review Process
November 05, 2018
We just launched Knowledge Sharing, a report that gives engineering leaders visibility into how knowledge about the code is being distributed across teams.
It’s commonly understood that “knowledge silos” can cause handoffs that ultimately slow teams down. But it’s difficult for managers to pinpoint whether silos are forming in their own teams—and if so, then identify the actions they can take to build a more sustainable team. This is all made possible with GitPrime’s new Knowledge Sharing report.
The Knowledge Sharing report measures how thoroughly information is being distributed across a team by looking at who’s reviewing who’s pull requests. It includes two visualizations: the Knowledge Sharing Index, and the Review Radar.
The first visualization within the report, the Knowledge Sharing Index, measures how thoroughly information is being shared amongst a team by looking at who’s reviewing who’s PRs.
Then, managers can use the Review Radar to dive into the team dynamics that are causing the Index to deviate from the norm: if there are two or three people who only review each other’s code, the team’s Knowledge Sharing Index will be trend toward 0, whereas if the majority of the team reviews each other’s code the Index will trend toward 1. (GitPrime uses a variation of the Gini Coefficient to calculate the Knowledge Sharing Index, which is commonly used to measure the wealth distribution in societies.)
Review Radar as seen in GitPrime
In our case, think of a PR comment as a unit of wealth. In a perfect world, everyone performs an equal number of reviews, thus the wealth is evenly distributed. Alternatively, if one person performs all the reviews, she has hoarded all the knowledge available via reviews.
In practice, PR reviews are not the only way to share knowledge; and, as in life, there are other forms of wealth that aren’t considered in a Gini Coefficient. However, we have found that the Knowledge Sharing Index makes for a management good signal. You can use it to help identify engineers who are not part of the everyday flow of reviews as well as find silos and other anti-patterns that often bubble up simply because they are hard to spot. The Knowledge Sharing Index adds a nice tool to help your team collaborate and share knowledge via reviews.
Look for outliers and stranded engineers then take action to help get them involved. Use the Knowledge Sharing Index to manage your team’s broader trend toward or away from that imagined ideal of shared knowledge, keeping in mind that perfect distribution is rarely achievable nor is it desired.
The Knowledge Sharing Index coupled with Involvement (a Review metric) will give you a very clear picture of how your team is using the review process to share knowledge. Involvement is a measurement of the percentage of PRs that an individual participated in, and Knowledge Sharing is the analogous measurement as a team.
Knowledge Sharing helps us understand how effectively our engineers our collaborating, and how to coach them toward healthier habits.”
Mike TrionfoCTO at Homie, Inc.
Towards a better understanding of the code review process
The Knowledge Sharing report was released as part of GitPrime’s suite of reports about the pull request process to provide a more complete picture of how teams are collaborating. With the report, managers can:
- Visualize and track knowledge concentration centers, and manage them to strengthen their team’s bus factor
- Identify opportunities to cross-train engineers in different areas of the code, providing for more optionality when assigning tasks in the future
- Identify opportunities to ramp-up new hires on specific domains by encouraging them to review specific team member’s code
- Recognize those who have been working hard to review other team member’s code, and relieve some of that pressure by bringing others into the process
GitPrime’s goal is to provide the instrumentation that software teams need to get a better understanding of the development process. This report, which pairs nicely with the Code, Review, and Submit Fundamentals, will give you a very clear picture of how your team is collaborating and using the review process to share knowledge.
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