With plans to rapidly scale their engineering organization, Recursion’s leadership sought to get a baseline understanding of their developer experience. The leadership team recognized that engineering teams often seem to move slower than expected after a period of rapid growth. Their hypothesis was that if they proactively identified areas of friction in developers’ day-to-day, Recursion would be able to take action and maximize developer effectiveness as they grew.
Recursion chose DX to measure areas of friction across their developer experience and help inform their Infrastructure and Tooling organization’s roadmap. Maureen Makes, who leads the Infrastructure and Tooling organization, says, “Our team is focused on understanding the problems that developers are facing and figuring out how to get ahead of them. DX gives us insight into what those problems are.”
Recursion‘s Infrastructure and Tooling organization has three primary purposes for using DX: advocating for company-level initiatives, informing their team’s roadmap, and reporting on progress.
On a quarterly basis, Makes’ team reports on DX data to the senior technology leadership group. They also present recommended organization-level initiatives that the company can invest in.
“These presentations have landed really well,” Makes says. “They have led to company-level initiatives like creating a documentation guild and establishing The Year of Tech Debt.”
The idea for the Year of Tech Debt originated in one of these leadership presentations. The group discussed different possible developer experience investments. In the end, technical debt was chosen, and Recursion’s engineering organization decided to name 2022 “The Year of Technical Debt.”
In practice, that meant that every quarter, each engineering team would select a technical debt project to focus on. (At one point in the year, this included a tech debt hack week that was considered an enormous success for the company.) At the end of the quarter, teams would share what they accomplished in Recursion’s Tech All Hands meeting. Makes says the company has decided to focus on ownership in 2023.
DX helps inform the Infrastructure and Tooling organization’s roadmap. “Multiple times, our team has assumed we should focus on a specific problem — only to learn through DX that something else was a bigger problem for developers." says Makes. “Being able to see both qualitative and quantitative data about different tools and processes gives us a much richer perspective on where we should focus as an internal-facing team.”
When deciding which metrics to report on at the executive level, Makes’ organization wanted to make sure their metrics supported their mission of accelerating Recursion’s stream-aligned teams. They decided on two of the KPIs measured in DX, Weekly Time Lost and Ease of Release.
These metrics are reported quarterly to the tech leadership team, who then report on the metrics with senior leadership to frame conversations around investments in Recursion’s engineering organization as a whole.