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How VTS Used Metrics to Reduce Cycle Time Amid Rapid Growth |

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By: Code Climate
November 08, 2022


In the midst of pandemic lockdowns, VTS, a leading provider of commercial real estate technology, was in a period of rapid growth. In addition to aggressive hiring, VTS grew through acquisitions, adding Rise Buildings and Lane to its portfolio. Soon after onboarding, they discovered the new teams had less effective SDLC processes, which caused Cycle Time to trend toward 80 hours — nearly double the average Cycle Time of the core VTS team.

Engineering leadership leaned heavily on Code Climate Velocity as they incorporated the new teams and integrated the new products into the VTS platform. They leveraged Velocity to investigate bottlenecks, and discovered the teams were spending Cycle Time resolving issues and needed more efficient workflows. 

Fostering an Elite Engineering Culture

Being customer-obsessed and striving for excellence are the core tenets are the foundation of VTS culture. And for engineering, these values drive an ambitious vision of producing elite engineering talent who innovate to serve customers, achieve business outcomes, and positively impact the broader tech industry. 

With more than 20 teams and 200-plus engineers, VTS fosters a high-caliber engineering culture built on mutual trust. They have collectively embraced a vision of engineering excellence, and they leverage Code Climate to measure proficiency and success, surface bottlenecks, and actively explore ways to improve. The Velocity platform delivers end-to-end visibility into the entire development pipeline, which is crucial for tracking engineering progress and achieving OKRs with a large, distributed team. 

Prashanth Sanagavarapu, Head of Platform Engineering at VTS, said without these insights, every decision would be a shot in the dark. “As a manager, my worst nightmare is running blind. I need to make decisions based on data and facts, and Code Climate provides exactly what we need.” 

Metrics That Matter

For VTS, Code Climate provides visibility into the metrics that matter, and it is more intuitive and robust than what is built into other engineering tools. For example, Jira reporting was inadequate because it lacked context, and engineering leaders couldn’t compare metrics to industry standards.

“An ops team may close 100 tickets, but what does that mean? Someone has to go into each ticket and read the description to understand what is happening, and that just isn’t sustainable,” said Sanagavarapu.

Code Climate allows them to analyze factors like Pull Request (PR) size, frequency, and time to close, enabling them to optimize workflows to consistently deliver incremental value and maintain engineering velocity. Sanagavarapu said he learns quite a lot through the platform: “It’s a fact tool for me. I can see the trends of what is working and what isn’t working for a particular squad and correlate it back to sprint retros.”

Cycle Time is the north star metric at VTS. Measuring Cycle Time every two weeks with Code Climate provides visibility into how fast they are shipping, both organization-wide and at the team level, and it enables them to quickly see when fluctuations occur. Then, within the platform, they can easily drill down to identify choke points and dependencies that may be impacting performance. Understanding if the Cycle Time went up due to outages, open RFCs, or a change in personnel helps leaders to understand trends and better allocate resources to ensure their teams have what they need to be successful. 

Sanagavarapu said the ability to drill down to the individual contributor level is very impactful because it allows you to diagnose problems at any level and scale. Since deploying Velocity, they have improved Cycle Time by 30% and doubled their deployment frequency. 

“Our average Cycle Time tends to be around 35 hours with 48 hours as our max threshold. When we exceed that, we know there is something going on. If it’s not a holiday or another known factor, we can dig to discover and understand the problem and who is being impacted — then, we can solve it.”

Maintaining Excellence During Rapid Growth

Enhanced visibility has been crucial for engineering leadership over the past two years, with company growth accelerating during challenging pandemic lockdowns. Sanagavarapu said more than 60% of the company’s 600-plus employees joined during this time, most of whom were engineers. 

Infrastructure stability was a big challenge, so they worked to reduce the number of incidents so that dev teams could spend more time on value-add work. When they discovered a lag time in PRs due to time zone differences, they changed their workflows to reduce the time for feedback and better manage resources across teams. They also added in more test cycles so that rework happened less frequently. Now, the entire engineering organization maintains Cycle time under its 48-hour threshold.

“Code Climate provided insights that helped us accelerate integrating those teams into our culture and processes more quickly and effectively,” Sanagavarapu said.

Measuring Impact

VTS leverages Velocity to track and quantify impact at all levels. Engineering leadership can measure business impact by translating metrics into stories that show how engineering delivers value. They can understand how quickly teams deliver new features that are important for customers and compare the time spent on new feature work to rework time to ensure engineering time and resources are optimized.

Code Climate surfaces important trends that help engineering managers better understand the impact of process and workflow changes on developer experience. They can drill down to the developer level to diagnose issues and determine what might be consuming a squad’s time. Visibility into engineering capacity helps planning for major initiatives, allowing them to best leverage internal resources and balance workloads with external contractors. 

As VTS works continuously to innovate, evolve, and achieve both engineering and business milestones, the insights derived from Code Climate are invaluable, Sanagavarapu explained. “Code Climate is not a reporting tool. It’s the heart of engineering excellence.”

Cycle Time trending upward in your organization? Speak with a Velocity Product Specialist

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