Alignment is about putting our engineering efforts in the right places. This is arguably the most important aspect of engineering success in the current era:
- Work in the post-covid world is distributed, and engineers have come to expect a higher degree of autonomy.
- Resources are scarce and the ability to hire are limited when the economic context is less favorable.
- Separate product and engineering functions is the de-facto standard for modern organizations, and that collaboration is key to success.
It is more important than ever for engineering leaders to measure and demonstrate that progress is being made in the right direction.
Echoes helps you evaluate engineering alignment by measuring how efforts are distributed across categories of your choosing.
The combination of dimensions and initiatives lets you define the areas of work relevant to your particular context. This taxonomy is the cornerstone of data aggregation and reporting. It is designed to evolve over time, as some categories of work become obsolete and new ones appear.
- Categorize engineering efforts across the business goals they contribute to.
- Categorize engineering efforts going toward new features versus bug fixing.
- Categorize engineering efforts across user personas, business lines, or countries they intend to serve.
- Identify engineering efforts specifically invested into a project to decommission a legacy platform.
The taxonomy is automatically published and kept in sync with your production development tools through integrations. This enables a consistent way of labeling efforts regardless of how different teams have chosen to operate, all from within your product development tools of choice For example, one team may be rigorous in its use of JIRA to track development tickets, while another uses ad-hoc GitHub issues to track a subset of their work. Echoes taxonomy is published to both JIRA (as a custom field) and GitHub (as repository labels) such that work gets tagged consistently while teams continue using the processes and tools that make them most productive.
Echoes establishes a contract in which work must be tagged following the centrally-defined taxonomy, but leaves the “how” at the discretion of the teams.
While defining the taxonomy and tagging day-to-day engineering work gives an excellent overview of the activity, success is about meeting agreed-upon targets. Targets are defined as lower or upper-bound in terms of desired allocation of efforts. For example:
- Some organizations expect over 50% of efforts to be invested toward strategic goals: anything less would be considered an anomaly that needs to be addressed.
- Some organizations have an agreement that 20% of efforts should be invested toward paying off the technical debt: less could indicate that we are shipping new features at an unreasonable pace, and more that we are slowing down. The delivery and health indicators may give additional context toward the appropriate target for that team.