Debug Across Tools

“What good is a fast car if I have no idea which direction it’s headed?”

March 2023

The title of this post was a statement made to me by an engineering leader this past week. He'd recently adopted a new tool for tracking engineering metrics. And while pleased with the increased insight into things like cycle times, review times, and rework rates, he was still lacking any sense of whether all this work, regardless of how efficiently they did it, was being channeled in the right direction for the business.

Also missing were the critical details about the work being done that get buried in the cracks of various tools, threads, and docs. Here he was referring to the qualitative "checkpoints" that naturally occur in any project, like decisions, demos, discussions, status updates, and blockers. While difficult to quantify, these nuggets of context are absolute gold for anyone trying to understand how the work on a project is really going or for those needing to efficiently "catch up quick" in an async environment.

Every team we speak with struggles to capture and preserve this context centrally because doing so pulls everyone out of their preferred tools or requires the soul-crushing task of double-entry status bookkeeping (i.e., copying and pasting the same information in multiple different places). Absent this central hub of progress, engineering teams implement tactics to surface these details that often cause more harm than good. 

Finally, regardless of the metrics dashboard's usefulness to engineering, they aren't in a format easily consumable by the rest of the business. Still absent is the goal-project-work alignment that remains so elusive for most engineering organizations. This is the missing link to ensure that every layer of the org is running at maximum speed toward the intended business target. Critically, it also helps strengthen the partnership and trust between engineering and the rest of the business by providing visibility into what is often viewed from the outside as a black box.

In our frequent discussions with engineering leaders, we consistently hear slightly different versions of the same story. If you're struggling with these issues, we want to hear from you too. These are the types of challenges we're trying to address with KATA. Now's your chance to get into our Early Access Program and get those feature requests to the top of the pile!

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