You can't improve what you can't measure: 13 KPIs necessary for every DevOps leader
DevOps is not an event: it’s a culture. As such, it demands continual improvement in order to stay relevant and competitive. Improvement, however, requires measurement. KPIs are measurements that allow DevOps leaders to see where their teams are, and map out where they are going.
KPIs are metrics that help everyone in an organization from the engineer to the CTO, CIO or CISO. When people at all levels are on the same page, using the same data to build upon, progress happens more easily and quickly. The engineering team uses the information to improve, while the executive team uses it to make decisions that reshape the DevOps in the organization.
KPIs also align everyone with the few things that matter the most. They clarify and help align with company goals, increase collaboration and transparency.
Think DevSecOps metrics, not just DevOps
Recently, and due to the digital transformation and quicker time to market DevOps has produced, new needs have cropped up in DevOps. KPIs have always measured key components of DevOps success such as velocity, quality, and productivity as referenced in DORA metrics. Increasingly, the need to measure and improve security has become critical. Read on to learn more.
How often you deploy, time to market and change volume, etc. all play a role in your DevOps velocity. There’s a distinct advantage for organizations that can move quickly, and a few KPIs can help effectively measure speed:
- Deployment frequency
- Change volume
- Deployment by project, developer, etc.
- Mean Lead Time/Cycle Time
High deployment frequency and change volume keep one another in check: moving fast means nothing, after all, if no real change is happening. What is the deployment’s actual impact on customers, whether it’s a new software release or a response to a production outage? These KPIs provide a feedback loop that informs the production deployment process for future features.
Analyzing deployments by build, developer, and other factors also provides useful end-to-end insight to the process. This measures developer efficiency and productivity, revealing how many code commits, merge requests, builds were made to each environment before the code was moved to production.
These value-add KPIs allow everyone - Developers, DevOps engineers, Security and Quality teams, and Executives to understand deployment patterns and identify gaps around quality and security.
Testing is key to quality assurance. KPIs focused on quality offer a feedback loop that allows teams to move towards test-driven development. These KPIs include:
- Change failure rate
- Build failure rate
- Automated tests failure rate
A robust quality process paired with automation gives the whole team a clear picture of an application’s predictability, availability, and performance. They also provide information to teams on single points of failure and time to recovery as part of testing.
Quick detection, response, and recovery time in the case of an outage is critical to keeping availability high. Availability, of course, is a major factor in perceived software quality—it’s hard to be high-quality when an application is down, after all.
As technology advances, security has become increasingly important to organizations, businesses, and customers. Decreasing security risks is critical to providing a secure and competitive application. Measure your security with:
- Defect escape rate
- Code Smells
- Infra/container scans
Embedding security as a DevOps stage shifts the process to DevSecOps and allows every organizational team to identify risks and SLA compliance in pre-production. This helps to prevent outages and compliance or audit issues.
Having visibility into security KPIs also helps the team decrease security-related tickets, and allows the technology team to run a secure application in production. As businesses grow increasingly mindful of security risks in technology, these KPIs can demonstrate an organization’s competitive edge.
The Operations team is responsible for driving the operational efficiency of the entire process. They care about metrics across the entire life cycle. Below are two key KPIs that matter the most.
- Time to recovery (MTTR)
- Service Level Agreement (SLA) Compliance
True DevOps success means increasing the speed and agility of your teams. Operations usually carries the onus of sharing key performance metrics with all stakeholders to improve success at every stage.
Aggregated analytics from siloed tools
Calculating and analyzing KPIs manually is time-consuming and resource-draining. With more than 10-25 tools in your CI/CD environment, it is often difficult to piece together intelligence from individual tools. You need unified analytics with searchable logs to troubleshoot issues or identify redundancies or efficiencies. This is best accomplished with a platform that integrates data across tools to provide holistic reporting and dashboards, including everything from planning to production deployment and the embedded quality and security gates.
Predictive intelligence to stay ahead
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the saying goes. Using KPIs to track and measure DevSecOps trends helps to stop issues before they arise, conserving resources’ time and energy spend fixing issues.
When release risks are predictable, the need to be reactionary dissipates, easing the pressure on teams to constantly put out unexpected fires. It also allows leaders to identify which team, developer, or build present issues with security quality and where bottlenecks may happen. In a nutshell, KPIs allow you to plan ahead instead of reacting after it’s too late.
KPIs: Measuring DevOps DevSecOps progress and success
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