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Get More Out of DORA Metrics With Code Climate Velocity

Rachel Roth

By: Rachael Roth
February 21, 2023

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For organizations looking to fine-tune their DevOps practices or understand where they should improve to excel, DORA metrics are an essential starting point. Code Climate Velocity now surfaces the four DORA metrics in our Analytics module, allowing engineering leaders to share the state of their DevOps outcomes with the rest of the organization, identify areas of improvement, establish goals, and observe progress towards those goals. 

When used thoughtfully, DORA metrics can help you understand and improve your engineering team’s speed and stability. Here’s how Code Climate Velocity delivers the most accurate and reliable measurements for each metric, and how to maximize their impact in your organization. 

What is DORA?

The DORA metrics were defined by the DevOps Research & Assessment group, formed by industry leaders Nicole Forsgren, Jez Humble, and Gene Kim. These metrics, along with their performance benchmarks, were largely popularized by the book Accelerate, co-authored by the DORA group. Not only do they represent the most critical areas in the DevOps process, they’re also the metrics most statistically correlated with a company’s organizational performance.

What are the four DORA metrics? 

The four DORA metrics fall under two categories: 

Stability Metrics (Measuring the impact of incidents in production):

  • Change Failure Rate: The percentage of deployments causing a failure in production.
  • Mean Time to Recovery: How long, on average, it takes to recover from a failure in production. 

Speed Metrics (Measuring the efficiency of your engineering processes):

  • Deploy Frequency: How frequently the engineering team is deploying code to production.
  • Mean Lead Time for Changes: The time it takes to go from code committed to code successfully running in production.

How Velocity Does DORA Differently 

While many leaders rely on homegrown calculations to surface their DORA metrics, a tool like Velocity allows teams to get even more out of DORA. Not only do we help teams standardize measurement and ensure accuracy, we also make it possible for leaders to go a level deeper — digging into the aspects of the SDLC that influence DORA metrics, so they can identify specific opportunities for high-impact changes. 

Our approach to DORA metrics is unique because: 

We use the most accurate data

Velocity uses our customers’ real incident and deployment data, through Velocity’s curl command, to ingest data from JIRA and our Incidents API, for accurate calculations of each metric. 

Many platforms rely on proxy data as they lack integration with incident tools. Yet this approach yields lower quality, error-prone insights, which can lead to inaccurate assessments of your DevOps processes.

You can view trends over time

The Velocity Analytics module gives users the ability to see DORA Metrics trend over time, allowing you to select specific timeframes, including up to a year of historical data. 

You can use annotations to add context and measure the impact of organizational changes on your processes 

Additionally, users can use annotations to keep a record of changes implemented, allowing you to understand and report on their impact. For example, if your team recently scaled, you can note that as an event on a specific day in the Analytics module, and observe how that change impacted your processes over time. Reviewing DORA metrics after growing your team can give you insight into the impact of hiring new engineers or the efficacy of your onboarding processes.

You can surface DORA metrics alongside Velocity metrics 

The platform also allows customers to surface these four metrics in tandem with non-DORA metrics.

Why is this important? DORA metrics measure outcomes — they help you determine where to make improvements, and where to investigate further. With these metrics surfaced in Analytics, it’s now easier for engineering leaders to investigate. Users can see how other key SDLC metrics correlate with DORA metrics, and pinpoint specific areas for improvement.

For example, viewing metrics in tandem may reveal that when you have a high number of unreviewed PRs, your Change Failure Rate is also higher than usual. With that information, you have a starting point for improving CFR, and can put in place processes for preventing unreviewed PRs from making it to production. 

Engineering leaders can coach teams to improve these metrics, like reinforcing good code hygiene and shoring up CI/CD best practices. Conversely, if these metrics comparisons indicate that things are going well for a specific team, you can dig in to figure out where they’re excelling and scale those best practices.

Metrics offer concrete discussion points 

DORA metrics are one tool engineering leaders can use to gain a high level understanding of their team’s speed and stability, and hone in on areas of their software delivery process that need improvement. With these insights, leaders can have a significant impact on the success of the business.

Sharing these discoveries with your engineering team is an excellent way to set the stage for retrospectives, stand ups, and 1-on-1s. With a deeper understanding of your processes, as well as areas in need of improvement or areas where your team excels, you can inform coaching conversations, re-allocate time and resources, or extrapolate effective practices and apply them across teams. 

Leaders can also use these insights in presentations or conversations with stakeholders in order to advocate for their team, justify resource requests, and demonstrate the impact of engineering decisions on the business. 

Ready to start using DORA metrics to gain actionable insights to improve your DevOps processes? Speak with a Velocity product specialist

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