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How Faire Uses Velocity for Critical Visibility During Rapid Expansion

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By: Code Climate
July 13, 2023

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Faire is a fast-growing online wholesale marketplace connecting independent retailers and emerging brands worldwide. Since launching in 2017, the company now supports 100,000 brands and 700,000 retailers across 50,000 cities. Reaching this point of scale in just a few years required aggressive yet mindful growth within engineering. During this period, Faire leadership relied on Code Climate Velocity to provide critical visibility into team performance to ensure they could predictably deliver on objectives while continually onboarding new engineers.

The power of engineering data

Paul Poppert, head of engineering at Faire, is a huge believer in the power of data.

“If you want to understand the evolution of anything — from personal finances to health and fitness to organizational excellence — you need a way to collect data around the activity and find the signals within that data,” he said.

Visibility into engineering processes — and the ability to capture signals from engineering data — has been critical to the evolution of Faire’s engineering team, which has grown 18x since Poppert assumed his role in 2019. Before selecting Code Climate Velocity, he and his team tried using a few competitive and home-grown tools, but these proved difficult to integrate, time-consuming to manage, and lacking in capabilities. It was a massive distraction from high-value work.

“I was trying to onboard new managers that didn't understand how you use these tools, and we were just too busy for that. And so that's when we decided we needed a more advanced platform and wanted to partner with a company where it would be a healthy business relationship. We investigated multiple companies, and Code Climate was the best fit.”

Faire onboarded with Code Climate when it was on the cusp of massive company growth. In the two years since, the team has grown from 100 to 360 engineers, and visibility into performance has enabled Poppert to keep teams working predictably toward business outcomes. For example, as Faire was onboarding large cohorts, he used Velocity to understand how this impacted overall output and execution, so he could prepare for onboarding future groups. They could adjust workloads and commitments, and reallocate time to getting new team members up to speed, knowing it would benefit their output in the long run.

“We were able to invest a ton in bringing new engineers up to speed, nurturing them, and pairing them with more senior engineers,” Poppert explained. “We could do this with the visibility we had from Velocity because we could set realistic expectations, and knew we would see the rebound in execution when these investments started to pay off. And we absolutely did.”

Though Poppert was already happy with the teams’ output, now his teams are hitting record output levels per person because they were able to manage onboarding mindfully. And with Velocity, he has the data to show company leadership and peers his team’s value stream. Within the last year, PR Throughput has increased by 60% and Push Count has increased by 65%.

Velocity powers engineering excellence

When it comes to metrics, Poppert said he focuses less on goal setting and more on using metrics to understand what is happening within his engineering organization, which is made up of five teams — four product and one platform team. He can look at metrics like PR per contributor, PR Throughput, Cycle Time, or Time to First Review and compare between teams or over time to identify changes that might signal problems to be addressed. He noted, however, that the platform team’s work differs significantly from a product team’s. So, naturally, metrics do as well, with much lower active coding days yet higher PRs per contributor based on the type of work they are responsible for.

Engineering leaders at Faire also use Velocity as a way to foster a healthy culture. For instance, the Team360 view offers insight into how and when teams work, which is a valuable tool for managers to spot early warning signs of burnout and adjust workloads accordingly. The calendar view can show when teams may have more unplanned work or when engineers work at night and on weekends, which can be discussed in retros with the team.

Velocity also reveals important insights about performance indicators, which help managers to guide individual and team growth. The platform can help leaders identify high performers who may be prolific contributors, or those who can quickly and easily adapt to changes in project requirements. It can also identify the team players doing frequent Code Reviews and mentoring other engineers, and even shine a light on team members who may be struggling so managers can get them support before a problem occurs.

“If you have a large team, you cannot always trust personal perceptions or status reports, which can be subjective,” Poppert said. “You need real visibility into what is happening in your engineering organization. Code Climate Velocity gives us that.”

Is your engineering team growing quickly? Learn how Velocity can help your engineering organization gain critical visibility when you need it most. Speak with a product specialist.

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