A global logistics company experienced record growth on all fronts during Covid-19: demand sharply increased, operations expanded, and team headcount grew.
After its initial wave of growth, the company recognized a need to invest in developer experience. An engineering leader at the company recalls, “We noticed that there was a huge opportunity for us to create a better environment for developers. The question was, how?”
The leadership group had ideas about what areas needed attention, but wanted to understand how widespread these problems were and whether there were others they’d not yet considered that might have a greater impact on the organization.
Leadership began evaluating measurement approaches to inform their planning. They reviewed DORA reports, read the book Accelerate, and demoed several Git and Jira-based metrics tools, but none of these approaches provided the visibility they were looking for. “I wasn’t keen on measuring the specific metrics I saw,” says one engineering leader. “They didn’t feel like they were the most effective or reliable way to get a holistic overview of what was going on in engineering. They also wouldn’t help engineering teams drive improvements forward.”
Things clicked when the leadership group found DX. “DX solves the same fundamental problem, just in a completely different way."
Embedding a culture of continuous improvement
Prior to rolling out DX, some members of the leadership group were worried about whether developers would participate. They also worried about whether teams would actually use the data to take action, especially considering the company has product owners owning the responsibility of prioritizing developer experience work instead of engineering managers.
Before the first snapshot, an engineering leader sent out messages to help developers and product owners understand the reasons for using DX. After the snapshot, they also met with a few product owners to walk them through their team’s data. This engineering leader says that, for the product owners, seeing their team’s data for the first time helped them realize the value of DX.
“In consecutive snapshots, it‘s becoming simpler and simpler for teams to participate, select focus areas, and take action. I no longer need to do marketing around making sure people are aware of why they should participate and what teams should do with the data. Teams are just doing it themselves.”
Informing enterprise-wide initiatives
Every quarter, the company’s internal-facing developer productivity team reviews DX data with management to discuss opportunities to solve problems spanning multiple teams. Several initiatives have emerged from these conversations, including one focused on how teams collaborate with each other.
The company experimented with a few strategies that led to immediate improvements in cross-team collaboration, including:
- Introducing Architectural Decision Records (ADRs) to improve the way teams make architectural choices, transforming this into a more collaborative process focused on finding the best possible solution.
- Implementing a developer portal with the goal of reducing the cognitive load required to find available documentation and access tooling.
- Hosting knowledge sharing sessions where teams present their current or past projects, both from a product and technical perspective.
- Organizing a hackathon to help team members get acquainted (the company grew quickly and remains a hybrid team).
“Every quarter, we look at DX data to discuss investments we can make to improve problems that affect multiple teams,” says an engineering leader of the internal-facing team. Their team shares results in the company’s all-hands, explains current focus areas, and then provides progress updates.
“Our company is in a regulated industry, but that doesn’t mean developers should be constantly weighed down by processes or rules,” the leader says. “We can still meet those regulations while creating a highly effective and enjoyable work environment for developers. That’s our mission, and DX helps us do that.”