Case studies

DX helps Curriculum associates get targeted developer insights

Curriculum Associates
27% improvement in deep work for developers
20% improvement in codebase experience
75% of engineering teams plan projects using DX data

Since its founding, Curriculum Associates has recognized the tangible business value in helping employees feel supported, engaged, and empowered. The company reinforces this belief through cultural values, including a focus on creating a best-in-class employee experience that empowers people to do their best work. 

The company has long used standard HR surveys to surface improvement opportunities across their employee experience. Sivan Lahav, Director of Engineering, says, “The company-wide surveys serve their own purpose, but they provide a higher-level set of data points that are not always specific enough to the issues that engineers navigate in their day-to-day.” Lahav recognizes that, given the nature of those surveys and the fact they are inclusive of every role in the company, it is inherently more difficult to make them targeted. As Curriculum Associates has grown significantly in recent years, the company started looking for developer insights that would provide clarity into where investments could be made.

DX is like having an x-ray into areas of friction that would otherwise be harder to see in developers’ day-to-day experience.”
- Sivan Lahav, Director of Engineering

Gaining insight into areas of friction across the developer experience

Curriculum Associates turned to DX to surface relevant data for understanding the engineering experience the company was providing. They immediately discovered areas where they were excelling—for example, the company does an exceptional job at welcoming different opinions and fostering a learning culture (scoring 8 points above the 90th percentile on the latter). They also discovered areas in which improvements could be made. Curriculum Associates identified an opportunity to improve the balance of technical debt by getting alignment from various stakeholders on the business value of prioritizing this work. 

Those insights emerged in the first snapshot, which saw an 85% developer participation rate. Lahav and other leaders have since dedicated time to responding to developers’ feedback, sharing out DX results, and updating all teams on current developer experience initiatives—increasing survey participation to over 90%.

“DX is like having an x-ray into areas of friction that would otherwise be harder to see in developers’ day-to-day work,” says Lahav. Matt Hodges, VP of Engineering, adds, “Versus me assuming and championing things that may not have any material impact on the team’s happiness or efficiency, DX allows us to crowdsource and prove, with analytics, that we are focused on the right things.”

Versus me assuming and championing things that may not have any material impact on the team’s happiness or efficiency, DX allows us to crowdsource and prove, with analytics, that we are focusing on the right things.”
- Matt Hodges, VP of Engineering

Empowering team-level improvements 

One of Curriculum Associates’ ongoing goals for their culture as it continues to evolve is to “create an overall joyful engineering experience.” To achieve this outcome, leaders focus on empowering local teams to identify and make their own improvements. Technical debt is a prime example of this. 

With DX, Curriculum Associates newly observed that some engineering teams lacked the necessary support to resolve technical debt. Lahav and his leadership team solved this problem by coming to an agreement with all teams (and their product owners) that a certain capacity of their time would be dedicated to resolving tech debt. 

In practice this has meant: 

  • Each team has dedicated a set capacity of their time to resolving tech debt. 
  • Team leads or developers decide which tech debt projects to focus on. 
  • Some teams even use templates to help define the business value for each ticket related to tech debt. Lahav says this practice both facilitates product owner buy-in and helps engineers connect with the business needs and what helps produce value for their customers.

DX’s focus areas feature has also been helpful in getting teams to prioritize additional improvements and track high-level progress across teams. “DX has helped us create a continuous improvement workflow. It has cycles, and with each cycle we see improvements,” says Lahav.

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