Founded in 2009, AppDirect is an end-to-end commerce platform for selling, distributing, and managing cloud-based products and services. Their mission: to power the digital economy. Now, nearly 246M in funding, 6 acquisitions, and 10 years later, AppDirect employs a globally distributed workforce and is relied on by some of the world’s largest companies including Comcast, AT&T, and IBM.
Not surprisingly, AppDirect faced similar challenges to other organizations experiencing hypergrowth. VP of Engineering, Mathew Spolin, who has been with AppDirect for more than three years, says that one of his primary responsibilities to this day is working to keep the engineering organization aligned. But early on, AppDirect’s engineering leadership didn’t have a platform that would help them track KPIs, visualize progress across the organization, or stay connected with all the people and projects happening at any given time.
“Sales has metrics, marketing has metrics. For Engineering, we’re great at measuring what we’re building. The actual process of measuring how we are building software or our process, that’s much harder to measure,” says Mathew.
“If engineers break down their work and are able to submit their code for review more frequently, this work pattern tends to help improve the productivity of the team as a whole."
Mathew Spolin, VP of Engineering
As AppDirect continued to grow, Mathew needed to identify a set of health indicators for engineering so he could measure and report on the organization’s health and productivity. He also sought after a standardized way for their global teams to communicate what they were working on and how those projects fit into the organization’s objectives as a whole.
After learning about Pluralsight Flow, AppDirect engaged in a pilot following the Flow Code Fundamentals Program. This onboarding program helps companies adjust processes and improve across four key metrics: Coding Days per Week, Commits per Day, Impact, and Efficiency.
Initially, AppDirect established a target of seeing a 20% improvement across Coding Days per Week and Commits per Day, but they instead saw a 35% improvement across all four of the Code Fundamental metrics. After presenting this improvement at the executive level, AppDirect rolled out Flow to the broader engineering organization.
“If engineers break down their work and are able to submit their code for review more frequently, this work pattern tends to help improve the productivity of the team as a whole. People are less stressed because everyone is working more predictably, and it’s easier to review each other’s work that way. Flow was able to give us these insights immediately,” Mathew says.
Within the first quarter of implementing Flow, AppDirect’s managers started identifying operational inefficiencies and were able to create more space for uninterrupted coding time - and as a result, the company’s engineers have been able to accomplish more. “Our ability to ship code is our supply chain. What can we do to make the processes better for engineers? Flow helps us answer that,” Mathew says.
The key benefits of Pluralsight Flow for AppDirect
Increase in impact to codebase
Decrease in time to resolve pull requests
Decrease in unreviewed PRs
"Flow is the holy grail of engineering management."
Mathew Spolin, VP of Engineering
Results and next steps
With Flow, AppDirect has the ability to make informed decisions about adjusting processes and has visibility into how they can coach engineers toward healthier work patterns, all while keeping a pulse on the organization's health and productivity.
Unprecedented visibility into the development process. With Flow, the team has an objective way to track their progress and management is able to make better decisions about the processes in place. AppDirect’s engineering managers have used Flow to get out of the way of their team’s work, while using the data to adjust processes and coach teams toward healthier work patterns.
Automated reporting and key metric tracking. AppDirect has also saved time using Flow by automating what once were manual processes around reporting. Before Flow, their engineering managers would allocate time every week towards updating spreadsheets, simply so they could know what percentage of the team was working on features and bugs. Now, getting insight into the types of work that engineering energy is being allocated toward is effortless.
Standardized metrics for reporting up to the executive team. Mathew says he’s been long looking for something like Flow to provide a standard set of metrics that can be relied on across an engineering organization. “There’s no more spreadsheets or pulling things out of JIRA. Plus, we can now easily report up to the executive team with clear engineering metrics,” Mathew says. “The first time I showed Flow to our CEO, he was very excited. He said he’d been looking for something like this for years.”
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