Conf42: Site Reliability Engineering 2021

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One Metric to Rule them All: Cycle Time

Yishai Beeri
CTO @ LinearB

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If you only measure one metric this is it: Cycle Time. It is probably the most underrated and least understood metric in engineering. Yet this is the metric that comprises the most important aspects to measure in your engineering process. Here’s why.

High performing teams know it’s a marathon and not a sprint, that a steady and swift flow of value wins out in the end, and shipping many small improvements quickly in aggregate translates to great gains for your organization (in the spirit of kaizen). The way to do this is by ruthlessly removing productivity killers like context switches, work in progress culture, and dead value that isn’t shipped. By measuring the process, and not the individuals you are putting your emphasis on the team effort, which is great for culture - in contrast to highly toxic individual performance metrics.

This talk will focus on how to fine-tune and get Cycle Time right. It’s a mix of improving your planning, interfaces between product and engineering, communication, review and quality gates and release mechanisms, essentially everything your engineering process encompasses. If you can game this metric, then you will realize huge gains for your entire dev process and engineering organization.

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