We Need Some SPACE: What Is Missing From DORA? by@alexharris
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We Need Some SPACE: What Is Missing From DORA?

by Alex HarrisAugust 25th, 2022
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The SPACE framework offers a more holistic approach to measuring developer productivity. It takes into account wellbeing, collaboration and satisfaction alongside the usual performance metrics. The DORA framework outlines four essential metrics to measure in order to work out your team’s position on a scale which runs from 'Low' to ‘Elite’ It takes a more nuanced, three pronged approach which includes collaboration and wellbeing data, to identify patterns and causes that might degrade performance, and start to make fundamental changes that can ensure the success you see.

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  • There’s a time and place for the DORA framework of measuring developer productivity, but we think it misses too much to be a complete picture of performance.

  • The SPACE framework offers a more holistic approach which takes into account wellbeing, collaboration and satisfaction alongside the usual performance metrics.

The DevOps Research and Assessment team (DORA) have become a household name (well, in a house of developers maybe) when it comes to measuring the performance of development teams. Not only do they meticulously research and publish the much anticipated annual State Of DevOps report, but they also outline a framework of four essential metrics to measure in order to work out your team’s position on a scale which runs from Low all the way up to Elite.

Photo by Andy Hermawan on Unsplash

What are the DORA metrics?

  1. Deployment frequency: How often your team is successfully deploying code to production?

  2. Lead time for changes: How much time does it take for committed code to reach production?

  3. Change failure rate: What percentage of changes to code result in deployment failures or bugs requiring patches, rollbacks or other hands-on fixes?

  4. Time to restore service: How long does it take to restore normal services in the event of incidents that impair users?

Measuring yourself and your team against these metrics can certainly be a useful tool to understand your performance and flag areas that you might need to push in. If this is all you are measuring against, however, this isolated data doesn’t show you how to improve, or give you a holistic view of the people behind the numbers. Oversimplifying productivity measurements puts you at risk of neglecting the person behind the developer, which won’t help you take steps to avoid them burning out.

Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

We’ve already talked about how we believe measuring developer productivity should take you off the beaten track of simply focusing on code quantity and speed. By taking a more nuanced, three-pronged approach which includes collaboration and wellbeing data alongside the DORA productivity metrics, you can go beyond surface measurements, identify patterns and causes that might degrade performance, and start to make fundamental changes that can ensure the success you see is sustainable.

Well, hello SPACE!

What is the SPACE framework?

Outlined by a team including Nicole Forsgren of GitHub and a selection of Microsoft research experts, the SPACE framework takes a big picture approach to developer productivity. It focuses on six metrics which organizations and teams are encouraged to approach with a DIY mindset – what works for one team might not be so easily applied to another.

So what puts the s.p.a.c.e in SPACE?

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

  1. Satisfaction and wellbeing

As a developer, fulfillment at work can have a direct correlation to output; studies have shown an increase in performance when workers are positively engaged and happy, versus the risk of burnout and low productivity that comes with ignoring wellbeing and satisfaction. This metric encompasses anything from mental health and the effect of work on it, to the usability of a developer’s system which allows them to comfortably produce superior work.

  1. Performance

This metric is concerned with outcomes of the work put out by developers, including measures of speed, quality and impact on the organizational needs. Understanding the outcome of what you have delivered – rather than focusing solely on delivery itself –  gives a big-picture view of the impact your work has, and indicates whether it is having the desired effect.

  1. Activity

A standard measure focusing on the number of tasks completed. The DORA framework centers around this SPACE metric by measuring things like deployment frequency. These are all useful measurements, but as isolated data does little to give you the full picture of true productivity.

  1. Communication and collaboration

How well and how frequently does your team work together? This metric centers around the way teams communicate and work collaboratively, an often overlooked field when it comes to productivity. Understanding team working patterns can help you identify the impact collaboration and communication practices might be having on your team’s overall performance.

  1. Efficiency and flow

The final metric dips its toes into all the above, measuring the time and speed at which teams move through the workflow. By taking things like interruptions and meetings into account, whilst assessing a developers ability to ‘stay in the zone’, you can build a picture of how a workflow might be optimized to have a positive effect on productivity. The focus here should be on balancing individual and team flows; minimizing interruptions by declining or delaying meetings might improve individual performance, but the flip side might be creating blockers for the team as a whole who are waiting on a review.

For the record – and we don’t mean to brag – this is what Adadot is all about.

Adadot and SPACE

Our fitness tracker for work is based around the belief that there is more to developer productivity metrics than DORA allows, and our three-pronged approach goes hand in hand with SPACE’s, handing you the data you need to get a big-picture view and make informed decisions about your work patterns. Check out how we deliver you unique insights into each of SPACE’s metrics below.

  1. Satisfaction and wellbeing

With its own dedicated dashboard, we take wellbeing seriously at Adadot. Use our integrated measuring tools to track your work-life balance and out-of-hours tasks, as well as keeping tabs on long hours to help you achieve a more balanced approach to work.

  1. Performance

Our Process and Speed trackers in the Work dashboard track your performance velocity, with measures of completion speed zooming in on code quality and merge speed to help detect blockers around merging to main. We also shine an analytical light on deployment frequency and plenty of other performance metrics so you can understand the speed at which you are achieving your team’s goals.

  1. Activity

With integrations from the tools you use the most, you can easily use Adadot to track activity including time spent coding, commits volume, code reworking and lead times.

  1. Communication and collaboration

Our unique collaboration dashboard helps you understand exactly how you work together: track your time spent in meetings or on Slack, identify your close network, highlight collaborative coding and even track your email activity to dig deep into your teamwork metrics.

  1. Efficiency and flow

Too much time spent in meetings and not enough coding? Seeing frequent long hours but without the activity to reflect that time? Using all of our metrics and tools, you can pull together a unique picture of your efficiency and workflow, one which updates in real time as you continue to integrate and work with Adadot.

If DORA was the first step, we’re ready to take off into SPACE – we’ll even take you with us, we’re nice like that. And we don’t just talk the talk; see how we fared when we embraced our own tools here!

This story was first published here.