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What is a Software Engineering Intelligence Platform?

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By: Code Climate
March 16, 2023

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Today, businesses across all industries are powered by software. In order to remain relevant and competitive in their fields, companies need to ensure their engineering organizations are the best they can be. Customers and clients expect a positive, painless experience when interacting with a service or product, putting pressure on engineering teams and leadership to deliver value more efficiently and frequently than ever before.

There is no replacement for the expertise of an engineering leader or the talent of experienced software developers. Yet to maximize the impact of leaders and teams, data-driven insights are imperative. A Software Engineering Intelligence (SEI) platform, sometimes known as an Engineering Management Platform (EMP), can provide these insights, helping engineering leaders align with business goals, communicate the impact of engineering on the business, focus on the areas of the organization that need the most attention, and make informed operational decisions.

What is a Software Engineering Intelligence platform?

A Software Engineering Intelligence platform is a comprehensive tool that helps leaders and teams deliver quality software efficiently by providing data-driven visibility into the engineering team’s health, investment of resources, operational efficiency, and progress towards key goals.

While engineering decisions have historically been reliant on gut feel or highly manual solutions, like error-prone spreadsheets, SEI platforms enable engineering leaders to make data-informed decisions that will drive positive business outcomes, and foster consistent collaboration between teams throughout the CI/CD process.

What does a Software Engineering Intelligence platform do?

SEI platforms enable engineering leaders to:

  • Gain critical visibility into the SDLC to unblock work and deliver quality tech more predictably. Software Engineering Intelligence platforms help organizations identify and remove bottlenecks, leading to more predictable software delivery and increased value for customers. Getting a true understanding of in-flight work, including your coding balance and work in progress PRs, can help you ensure continuous delivery. An SEI platform also provides real-time alerts when work is not progressing as expected.
  • Improve team health. An SEI platform helps illustrate how work is distributed among developers to help leaders prevent burnout, identify opportunities for collaboration, and have specific, actionable coaching conversations based on the work itself rather than the individual.

    In terms of team health and developer retention, SEI platforms can help leaders spot opportunities for developer and team growth, and make it easier to identify and celebrate team successes. They can also provide benchmarks for team performance compared with others in the industry or within the organization.
  • Communicate engineering value to your business. To advocate for their team and maintain alignment with the rest of the business, engineering managers and leaders need to translate engineering investments and features into business value. An SEI platform makes it easier to demonstrate impact by illuminating progress towards key goals and illustrating the ROI of the engineering organization.
  • Simplify manual and incomplete data collection processes. An SEI platform connects with the VCS and project management tools that teams are already using in order to collect and share data.
  • Allocate resources to maximize impact. SEI platforms can inform leaders of actual cost and capacity allocation across engineering work so that they can assign resources to maximize business impact.

How does an SEI platform use data to offer actionable insights?

The best SEI platforms synthesize data from tools that engineering teams are already using daily. This can alleviate the burden of manually bringing together data from a variety of platforms and homegrown solutions.

SEI platforms do this by integrating with tools like Version Control Systems, Project Management platforms, and communication tools like Slack.

Code Climate Velocity users can push actual incident data from the incident tools they already use to gain an accurate picture of their team's incident response health.

Through data integrations and automations, an SEI platform:

  • Cleans and analyzes data. An SEI platform allows users to automatically ingest, clean, and link data. With an SEI platform like Code Climate Velocity, you can exclude data either manually or by rule so that insights aren’t skewed by outliers or irrelevant information

  • Understand and improve quality of work. Specific metrics found in an SEI platform like Velocity allow users to understand the quality of their team's work. By examining aspects of the software delivery lifecycle (SDLC) like how much code is refactored versus how much is new, as how many PRs are unreviewed or inactive, leaders can evaluate whether code review best practices are being followed and if stability and efficiency of delivery are balanced. 

  • Creates visualizations of trends, patterns, and correlations. SEI platforms allow engineering leaders to surface data all in one place. Some SEI platforms, like Code Climate Velocity, show users up to one year of historical data so you can identify past and current trends. With modules like Velocity Analytics, you can compare key engineering metrics alongside one another, including DORA metrics, to identify where adjustments will be most impactful.

  • Offers opportunities to add necessary context to your data. Platforms like Velocity allow users to note when an organizational change has been made, so you can observe how those changes impact software delivery.

Additional support

More than just a repository tool, the benefits of using an SEI platform like Velocity include customer support and documentation to help with introducing metrics to the team, and how to support a culture of psychological safety and continuous delivery.

Additionally, Velocity offers the expertise of customer success teams who have worked with thousands of engineering leaders to turn actionable insights into business impact.

Data that engineering leaders can get from an SEI platform can be tailored specifically to the organization, including insights at scale, and reports that address your top concerns as an organization.

Are SEI platforms secure?

The security of your team’s data is critical — the best SEI platforms will not store sensitive data, and will allow you to determine who within your organization can access what information.

Enterprise-ready SEI platforms, like Velocity, are SOC 2 Type 2 compliant, as verified by a third party, meaning they’ve ensured the security, availability, and processing integrity of users’ data.

Why do you need a Software Engineering Intelligence platform now?

In the past, engineering measurements have been largely subjective and nebulous, but the pressures of the software industry require an analytical solution to measure engineering outcomes.

Nearly every department in an organization utilizes some form of measurement and documentation to track the efficacy of their processes. In finance, spending and revenue are closely examined; in marketing, web traffic and conversions are assessed regularly.

Engineering leaders have never before had comprehensive tools to measure objective engineering metrics all in one place, giving them necessary data to improve practices. Concrete data from an SEI platform makes it easier to identify bottlenecks, demonstrate ROI to stakeholders, and establish and reach goals within an engineering team.

This is especially important as many software organizations are up against delivery, budget, and personnel challenges.

The challenges, in numbers:

  • According to the Standish Group’s 2020 CHAOS report, which reports on outcomes for their database of 50,000 projects, only 35% of those software projects were fully successful (delivered on time and within the allocated budget).

  • In the US, firms spend more than $260 billion on unsuccessful software projects, according to a report by the Consortium for Information & Software Quality (CISQ).

  • An extensive study by Korn Ferry estimates that a global skills shortage will result in $8.5 trillion in unrealized annual revenues in 2030.

How do you address engineering challenges?

To remain competitive in the fast-paced software industry, organizations will want to optimize their engineering practices. Demonstrating the impact of an engineering team on the business is critical in a time when resources are scarce.

The only way to fully understand your engineering processes, team health, and the stability and innovation of your product is by investing in a Software Engineering Intelligence platform.

Interested in learning what an Software Engineering Intelligence platform can and should offer? Speak with a Velocity product specialist.

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