Real World Stories | Customer Stories

Photograph of Katie Weddle Langer

Katie Weddle Langer

February 9th, 2023

Real-time insights into at-risk work create gains at Article

Sleuth helps Article win with real-time insights to at-risk work

Quick facts:

  • The engineering teams at Article were early adopters of Sleuth’s Work in Progress feature.
  • Providing real-time data during sprints vs. after keeps changes top of mind for developers, easing their mental load and improving efficiency.
  • With developers more involved in their own changes, engineering managers can focus on removing the causes of bottlenecks.

If you're an engineering manager and you want to improve your team's efficiency, you might use DORA metrics to see how well you deliver software quickly and with high quality. But you also want to know when things are about to go wrong — not just after.

Sleuth’s Work-in-Progress dashboards show work that hasn’t yet deployed, so you can identify work that’s veering off track and correct it before it ships (and preserve your DORA metrics performance in the long run).

Torsten Sinnemann, engineering manager at Article, has been finding value in Work In Progress metrics.

"It covers so many things of what I do every day,” Torsten says. “It gives me a quick overview of how the sprint is going and what things I need to be concerned about."

"I don't try to get into the weeds — I let the engineers worry about the weeds. But [Work in Progress] lets me know which weeds I might need to ask questions about. What more can you ask for?"

Here’s how he and his teams have gained three main benefits with Sleuth’s Work in Progress feature.

1. Efficiency gains

Like many teams, working in two-week sprint cycles means Article developers don’t see the impact of their changes until the sprint retrospective.

DORA metrics are great in helping us come up with things we could do to improve,” Torsten explains, “But we weren’t able to see if we were actually improving until the sprint ended. And by then, developers couldn’t remember why they made the change.”

The team asked Torsten for more data during the sprint to ease the mental burden. Work in Progress metrics became available in Sleuth at the right time.

“That's where this tool jumped in and we went, ‘Yes! This is what we wanted. This is what will help the teams be able to see this.’”

The dashboards show developers in real time where their own changes are starting to veer off track. They can then be proactive, correct those issues, and see the impact of their changes immediately.

And with developers able to own their changes more, Torsten can focus on what’s causing bottlenecks in the first place.

“Now the team is more efficient, and the whole point is to make the team more efficient,” he says.

2. Empower devs, boost morale

More information for developers has translated into improved morale, too.

“The team is enjoying the benefits of being able to see if a change that they discovered from the last sprint is actually showing validity or not, while it's still current in their minds,” Torsten says. “If we can give the developers information that they can use to positively change their efficiency, they love that because it means they get more time to do other things.”

And when that information is provided in Article’s blameless culture, it sends a message centered around improvement, not tracking.

“We try to give them information, and they use it how they want,” Torsten says. “This is not the way that we see if the team is successful; this is a way that we try to help them be more efficient.”

3. Deliver more value to customers

The teams’ efficiency gains and enhanced morale among developers ultimately create more value for their customers.

Giving developers information daily versus bi-weekly about their own work means they have more opportunities to fix and improve their work more often — and continuously deliver better value to customers.

Coupled with tracking DORA metrics, Work in Progress allows teams to see if their longer-term, strategic work is panning out in the immediate term — and adjust course if it’s not.

“The numbers aren't the important part,” Torsten explains. “Are we actually delivering value on every sprint to the customer? If we are, then we're doing our job. If we're not, then we look at how we can put enough into a sprint to show value. And [Work in Progress] continues us down the path of being more efficient so that we can put better value in front of the customer.”

Check out our live demo or try Sleuth for yourself. It's free for 30 days.

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