Updated on January 18, 2023 | Read time: ~7 mins
What are DORA Metrics and Why are they Important?
The Devops Research & Assessment program, or DORA as it’s better known to DevOps and engineering teams, has become the widely accepted benchmark to better understand the software development process. The findings of the DORA program highlight that the technology industry continues to improve in recognizing how to create measurable and meaningful improvements in the life cycle of shipping software changes in products and features.
Tools like Pluralsight Flow are helping engineering teams, creating more frequent and consistent releases, reducing mistakes and testing time, and getting updates to end users faster. However, before empowering your DevOps teams to use DORA’s metrics, you have to first understand what they are and how to improve them.
4 Common Understandings of DORA metrics
1. Deployment Frequency
Deployment frequency is simply how frequently your team deploys. Naturally, the frequency of deployments directly affects the frequency of changes pushed out to your end users. The key here is not just understanding how often you’re deploying, but the size of the deployments as well.
One key to increasing your deployment frequency is to shrink the size of your deployments. Not only does this enable you to deploy more often, but it also decreases the risk of your deployments by reducing the potentially implicated areas of your codebase. If errors do end up occuring, you’ll quickly be able to determine where the issues are in your deployment.
2) Lead Time for Changes
Lead time for changes is essentially the time it takes for a commit to go from being authored to being deployed. Tools like Pluralsight Flow can help you identify the aspects of the process that can be streamlined by showing leaders where they can improve process efficiencies or reduce bottlenecks.For example, within Flow, you can identify if commits are stuck in waiting states like waiting for QA testing. This can highlight if your testing process is delaying your deployments.As a leader, this can inform you if there are opportunities to automate aspects of testing during production, or hire additional QA testers, thus alleviating critical bottlenecks for your team.
3. Mean Time to Recovery (MTTR)
You may know Mean Time to Recovery as Time to Restore Service. No matter what you call it, MTTR is the average measurement of how long it takes to resolve an incident. An initial urge to reduce this by any means necessary might sound like an effective improvement of metrics for your organization but understanding the problem is important first.
Flow can be pivotal in the successful improvement of your technology teams when working toward improving your MTTR. Since Flow can help you holistically understand the why, you can be more confident when implementing fixes and procedures to help your team know the playbook of responding to incidents and outages.
4) Change Failure Rate (CFR)
This is the measurement of the percentage of changes that result in a failure. Simply put, it is the number of failures divided by total number of deployments for a given period of time.
Where a tool like Flow can help improve change failure rate is in highlighting for all members of your teams what their part of the process means to the big picture. Showing your Dev team what is happening in Production will help them understand the impact of certain changes and opportunities to improve the way they work to reduce risk in deployments.
How Pluralsight Flow Helps Organizations with DORA
Flow helps you map out value streams respective to Jira and Azure DevOps ticket statuses. Within the Retrospective Report you can see your top ten tickets by lead time, queue time, and jitter. Awareness of which types of work are causing delays in delivery can help you to improve your Lead time for Changes and your Time to Restore service. For example, if you see that the majority of your cycle time is spent within queues, perhaps your team would benefit from additional QA head count or maybe there’s an opportunity for automated testing.
Flow supports MTTR in the event of outages or production bugs. Observing the “Queue Time” metric for build failure tickets allows teams to spot process inefficiencies where WIP is piling up in a waiting state, encouraging actionable conversations around factors both detrimental and beneficial to MTTR.
Flow highlights activity around Jira and ADO tickets and then highlights potential discussion points based on outliers for your team.Flow enables you to see historical trends to substantiate investments made, or needed, to prevent incidents or improve future responses.
Various Flow reporting tools including the Retrospective Report, Work Log Report, and the Team Health Insights Report can empower your team to better understand their part of the overall process of delivering value to your users.
Constant improvement with Flow and DORA
When something goes wrong in your team’s process, you need to see what broke, why it broke, and how to fix it quickly. Using DORA can help you identify where to focus your time to see where you have the greatest opportunity for improvement. Then, with the depth of data in Flow, you can help identify bottlenecks in your team’s workflow, ensuring your systems and processes empower your team to deliver value to your users.
Expectations for engineering teams are growing faster than capacity—and engineering leaders are left to balance the equation with disparate, often inactionable data. Pluralsight Flow is the engineering insights solution that provides actionable insights to drive improved delivery, make better decisions, and build high-impact teams.
DORA metrics are by no means an end-all, be-all solution for every software development challenge. Yes, these metrics can be powerful for engineering teams who are working to improve their lead time for changes, mean time to recovery, change failure rates, and deployment frequency—but they lack details and only highlight surface-level problems, failing to show leaders how to improve organizational performance.
To truly make the most of DORA Metrics, and determine actual causes, engineering leaders must dive deeper into the sea of engineering data.
In this free white paper, we will explain what DORA metrics are and how they can be combined with deeper developer insights to:
Improve your team’s’ delivery capabilities and efficiency
Increase your code stability and throughput
Create better, more frequent value for your customers
And much more!
Dora Metrics: The Tech Standard for Elite Teams
With Pluralsight Flow, engineering leaders can do more with their DORA metrics, dive deeper into the data, and find actionable solutions to drive positive change.