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How To Use DORA Metrics to Measure DevOps Performance

 Improve DevOps performance through DORA metrics.

Improve your organization’s DevOps strategies with DORA’s simple, standardized metrics. Visibility is the first step toward DevOps success — and the foundation that all subsequent steps must build upon. Without true visibility, organizations will struggle to improve their quality, speed, innovation and resilience.

Digital transformation is data-driven; more data means more consistent results. But which metrics should your organization be tracking? Google’s DORA metrics are a good candidate because they’re built on comprehensive industry analysis.

An Introduction to DORA Metrics

DORA stands for the DevOps Research and Assessment team, a Google-headed project tasked with analyzing DevOps practices. The DORA team’s analysis identified four key metrics that positively correlate with DevOps performance:

  1. Deployment frequency.
  2. Lead time for changes.
  3. Time to restore service.
  4. Change failure rate.

These metrics can describe an organization’s current DevOps capabilities and identify important areas of improvement. Ideally, an organization should strive to achieve high marks in all four areas.

Key metrics should always be accurate, trackable, and simple. Complex metrics are not only difficult to track but difficult to keep accurate. DORA metrics provide organizations with a simplified baseline to audit throughout their digital transformation.

Deployment Frequency

Deployment frequency directly relates to organizational agility. More frequent deployments tend to be lower risk and get valuable innovations to users sooner. A good DevOps team may provide daily or weekly deployments. A great DevOps team should provide on-demand deployments.

DevOps teams that fall in “Poor” or “Moderate” categories should revisit their automated processes and look for areas of improvement. Poor deployment frequency can also indicate a breakdown in communication or collaboration. 

Lead Time for Changes

Foster digital transformation by accelerating your organization’s pipeline. The “Lead Time for Changes” metric measures the amount of time it takes the organization to move code from its initial commit to production. Failures in this metric indicate that the organization has bottlenecks preventing commits from being swiftly deployed.

An organization with a solid DevOps practice should be able to move commits to production within 24 hours. Organizations that cannot achieve a lead time of at least a week may need to pursue greater levels of automation or better quality gates. Automated testing is critical when seeking to move deployments from staging to production environments without delay.

Change Failure Rate

Elite organizations don’t keep going back to the drawing board. An organization’s “Change Failure Rate” indicates how frequently changes are made that need to be rolled back, fixed or otherwise managed. Low change failure rates separate elite DevOps performers from the rest of the pack. The standards are broad, but the DORA team has found that elite DevOps enterprises tend to achieve a change failure rate of less than 15%.

Change failure rates indicate the quality of the code being pushed through the pipeline, as well as the quality of communication. A high change failure rate implies that the organization isn’t producing the changes that are necessary — and that it isn’t controlling for quality

A successful DevOps practice aims to create software that aligns with customer expectations. If you have a clear way to incorporate customer feedback, you can minimize the need for changes. When a change is needed, successful teams use automated testing to ensure a higher quality product and alleviate bottlenecks. Change failures disrupt the flow of development and waste resources on rework. Understanding why your change failure rate is high can expose opportunities for improvement that result in faster software delivery, better quality, and less work for the development team. Improve change failure rates through better communication profiles and information flow.

Time to Restore Service

The time to restore service describes the total amount of time it takes for a system to recover from an outage or incident.  Any system, regardless of how well-secured and well-fortified, will eventually experience a system failure. Long downtimes could cost an organization millions of dollars. Companies need to be prepared for system disruption or attack—and they need to be able to redeploy their systems as quickly as possible afterward.

A great DevOps team should recover an organization’s systems in less than an hour. Improve system monitoring and management processes, disaster preparedness plans and escalation protocols to reduce the time it takes to get back up and running. The more well-prepared an organization is, the more likely it is to recover quickly.

DORA and DevOps Improvement

DORA metrics can be used to analyze an organization’s current DevOps performance and identify key areas for improvement. Through DORA metrics tracking, organizations can:

  • Make better decisions regarding their current DevOps strategies.
  • Identify core weaknesses and strengths within their DevOps processes.
  • Continuously improve their DevOps processes and their product quality.

By including DORA metrics in organizational audits, DevOps teams keep their goals in sight, assessing and reassessing them consistently. 

Use DORA Metrics in Your Organization

Visibility lays the foundation for successful DevOps. Organizations must be able to consistently measure their DevOps performance to assess DORA metrics, across all teams and all departments. Data must be compiled, normalized and analyzed. The more involved a team is, the better. Once team members feel individually responsible for DORA metrics, they are more likely to push toward improvements.

The right technology makes it easier to measure and improve on DORA metrics. However, trying to fit a solution to a problem it wasn’t designed for is like hammering in a screw. Instead, look for technology that was built with DORA metrics in mind. Copado drew on DORA metrics to build the #1 DevOps tool for Salesforce development teams. We knew teams would need a way to see and measure improvements across Salesforce deployments — and that DORA metrics could provide an excellent baseline.