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KOHO Gains Critical Visibility and Predictability with Velocity

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By: Code Climate
June 14, 2023

KOHO Case study blog header

KOHO Financial, a fintech company based in Toronto, has built its reputation on delivering innovative, digital-first products that make financial services more accessible for Canadians. With over 500,000 customers across the country, KOHO’s engineering leaders need deep visibility into the performance of their app-based financial solutions and teams in order to ensure fast and stable software delivery.

The company’s Director of Engineering, Chris McCann, turned to Code Climate Velocity, a Software Engineering Intelligence (SEI) platform, to boost the efficiency of the team, find and eliminate roadblocks, and work toward consistent, predictable delivery.

“One of the greatest benefits we’ve received from Velocity is becoming a more efficient engineering organization,” said McCann. “The platform helps us identify issues before they become big problems.”

Always-on visibility into team performance helps leaders identify problems early to eliminate roadblocks so teams can predictably deliver on outcomes. McCann and the team used Velocity to surface key metrics like PR Throughput to evaluate the health of their processes. If PR Throughput is low, engineering leaders will want to investigate related metrics and processes: Are developers being pulled away from high-value work to resolve incidents? Are they implementing best practices for Code Review to catch issues before they go to production?

McCann also took advantage of Velocity’s annotation capabilities to add context to reports, discovering that a drop-off in productivity could be due to something as simple as a light workload or planned vacations — or the team could be stuck on a tough problem that requires more support.

With both pre-built and custom reporting options, McCann said he has incredible visibility into team performance: “There are so many ways to really dig in, see how teams are performing, and isolate issues quickly.”

Validating Process Changes to Improve Efficiency

In two years of using Velocity, KOHO has gained invaluable insight into the engineering organization’s strengths and opportunities for growth. Armed with data, they’ve made important changes to improve efficiency and predictability in product delivery.

One significant change was the move away from a dedicated quality assurance (QA) team to a developer-driven model. This encouraged developers to take more ownership over Code Reviews, which led to better quality code. With a more efficient use of engineering resources, Code Review times decreased. QA team members were offered the opportunity to upskill and transition into development over a six-month period.

Velocity surfaced relevant insights to help the team transition, providing leaders with justification for how resources were being reallocated. The engineering organization was also able to uncover unexpected challenges due to the reorganization: with multiple developers creating tests for an endpoint, they returned a large, complex dataset containing redundancies.

During this process, Velocity provided the necessary visibility to help transition team members and ensure they had the resources they needed to be successful. The team looked at Impact and Productive Impact metrics to make sure that developers owning QA did not diminish their ability to deliver. Then, they cross-referenced that with the quality and customer support teams to confirm that developer-driven quality was actually working from a customer perspective.

It also uncovered unexpected challenges with the new process that they’ve been able to solve. For example, multiple developers creating tests for an endpoint that returns a big set of data resulted in unnecessary redundancy and complexity.

As the transition occurred, leaders were able to see Impact metrics trending upward throughout the timespan, while new code remained relatively stable. They were able to monitor rework alongside code pushes to make comparisons that either support the benefits or highlight weaknesses. Ultimately, the change from dedicated QA to developer-driven QA resulted in reduced rework. With data from Velocity, KOHO was able to demonstrate the success of the initiative.

As another example, in late 2022, KOHO’s engineering department implemented “no meeting Wednesdays” to see if a full day of focus time improved performance. Engineers were excited about the change, but leaders looked to Velocity for validation. Within two weeks, Impact metrics and PR Throughput were trending up — not just on Wednesdays, but the subsequent Thursdays and Fridays as well. This showed that increased focus time on Wednesdays enabled developers to get more done, and the additional work carried over into Thursday and Friday via Code Review. After the holidays, metrics began to show impressive results and the change became permanent for the engineering organization. In early 2023, the mid-week no-meeting policy expanded company-wide.

KOHO’s engineering teams have recently started digging into DORA metrics in Velocity’s Analytics module, which address critical areas of engineering performance. These metrics include Mean Lead Time for Changes, Deployment Frequency, Change Failure Rate, and Mean Time to Recovery. Now that the teams can see these measurements alongside other engineering metrics in Velocity, they can make higher-impact adjustments to their processes and better balance the speed and stability of software delivery.

Cultivating Individual and Team Success

At KOHO, building better financial solutions starts with cultivating a collaborative environment where people are energized by their work and encouraged to take ownership of their success. In this regard, Velocity has become a meaningful platform for both leadership and individual contributors. McCann said engineers track their PR Throughput and Code Review to understand their output. Personal performance metrics can highlight the areas where they excel, surface opportunities for growth, and encourage more collaboration between peers.

Engineering leaders can also identify and reward high-performing teams and individuals. Equally as important, they can more easily spot when developers may be struggling, and take action to support them.

“As engineering leaders, we can’t be in the weeds with our teams every day, so it's reassuring to know I have Velocity in my pocket, which allows me to drill down when necessary to investigate issues. Velocity provides the visibility I need, when I need it, to make informed decisions that keep our company moving forward.”

To learn more about how Velocity offers critical visibility for engineering leaders, schedule a platform demo.

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