In this deep-dive episode, Brian Scanlan, Principal Systems Engineer at Intercom, describes how the company’s on-call process works. He explains how the process started and key changes they’ve made over the years, including a new volunteer model, changes to compensation, and more. Discussion points: (1:28) How on-call started at Intercom (10:11) Brian’s background and interest in being on-call (14:06) Getting engineers motivated to be on-call (16:37) Challenges Intercom saw with on-call as it grew (19:53) Having too many people on-call (23:20) Having alarms that aren’t useful (26:03) Recognizing uneven workload with compensation (27:22) Initiating changes to the on-call process (30:08) Creating a volunteer model (33:02) Addressing concerns that volunteers wouldn’t take action on alarms (34:40) Equitability in a volunteer model (36:36) Expectations of expertise for being on-call (40:56) How volunteers sign up (44:15) The Incident Commander role (46:19) Using code review for changes to alarms (50:02) On-call compensation (52:50) Other approaches to compensating on-call (55:08) Whether other companies should compensate on-call (57:32) How Intercom’s on-call process compares to other companies (1:00:46) Recent changes to the on-call process (1:04:13) Balancing responsiveness and burnout (1:07:12) Signals for evaluating the on-call process Mentions and links: Follow Brian on LinkedIn or Twitter Brian’s article: How we fixed our on call process to avoid engineer burnout Gergely Orosz’s On-Call Compensation
8 March 2023 • 1h, 10m and 24s
Jack Li explains how his production engineering team rolled out a new incident review process, how they’ve made the case for investing in reliability, and specific tools his team has built to improve reliability. — Discussion points: (1:25) How Jack became interested in reliability (3:24) Where the Instagram Reels team fits into the broader organization (4:05) What Jack’s team focuses on (4:55) The role of production engineering at Instagram versus Shopify (8:32) The essence of DevOps (10:44) Pros and cons of having product-focused teams (13:35) How Jack’s team defines and tracks quality (15:46) Signals the team monitors outside of systems (18:10) Revamping Instagram Reel’s incident management process (19:46) Making the case for improving the incident review process (28:10) How their incident review process works (31:55) The roles involved in an incident review (33:40) The value of having incident reviews (35:55) Why leaders should be part of incident reviews (38:34) Why Jack’s team builds tools for driving reliability goals (40:06) The types of tools Jack’s team focuses on (43:09) What a merge queue is and why it was built at Shopify (51:20) Using a Slack bot for ‘failed build’ alerts (52:32) When a company should consider implementing a merge queue — Mentions and links: Follow Jack on LinkedIn Jack’s article from his time on Shopify about their Merge Queue Jack’s talk on Shopify’s Merge Queue at GitHub Universe 2019
16 February 2023 • 56m and 28s
Nathen Harvey, who leads DORA at Google, explains what DORA is, how it has evolved in recent years, the common challenges companies face as they adopt DORA metrics, and where the program may be heading in the future. — Discussion points: (1:48) What DORA is today and how it exists within Google (3:37) The vision for Google and DORA coming together (5:20) How the DORA research program works (7:53) Who participates in the DORA survey (9:28) How the industry benchmarks are identified (11:05) How the reports have evolved over recent years (13:55) How reliability is measured (15:19) Why the 2022 report didn’t have an Elite category (17:11) The new Slowing, Flowing, and Retiring clusters (19:25) How to think about applying the benchmarks (20:45) Challenges with how DORA metrics are used (24:02) Why comparing teams’ DORA metrics is an antipattern (26:18) Why ‘industry’ doesn’t matter when comparing organizations to benchmarks (29:32) Moving beyond DORA metrics to optimize organizational performance (30:56) Defining different DORA metrics (36:27) Measuring deployment frequency at the team level, not the organizational level (38:29) The capabilities: there’s more to DORA than the four metrics (43:09) How DORA and SPACE are related (47:58) DORA’s capabilities assessment tool (49:26) Where DORA is heading — Mentions and links: Follow Nathen on LinkedIn or Twitter Engineering Enablement episode with Dr. Nicole Forsgren 2022 State of DevOps report Bryan Finster’s How to Use & Abuse DORA Metrics (and Abi’s summary of the paper) Engineering Enablement episode with Dr. Margaret-Anne Storey Join the DORA community for discussion and events: dora.community
25 January 2023 • 54m and 45s
This week's guest is Dr. Margaret-Anne Storey, who goes by the name Peggy. Peggy is a professor of Computer Science at the University of Victoria, the Chief Scientist at DX, and co-author of the SPACE Framework, which is the topic of focus in this episode. Today’s conversation discusses what the SPACE framework is and what went into developing the metrics and categories. Peggy also shares where she sees this line of research heading next. — Discussion points: (1:29) Peggy’s background (4:01) What the SPACE framework is (5:55) Why the researchers came together for this paper (7:27) The process of writing this paper (9:52) How the SPACE categories and acronym emerged (11:50) The authors’ intention for how this framework would be received (13:26) Finding a definition for what developer productivity is (17:08) The metrics included in the SPACE framework (24:48) How SPACE is different from DORA (26:17) Why lines of code and number of pull requests were included as example metrics (27:14) What Peggy is thinking about next — Mentions and links: Where to find Peggy: Twitter, Website The SPACE of Developer Productivity: There’s more to it than you think by Nicole Forsgren, Margaret-Anne Storey, Chandra Madilla, Thomas Zimmerman, Brian Houck, and Jenna Butler Abi’s summary of the SPACE paper Peggy’s talk, What Does Productivity Actually Mean for Developers?
18 January 2023 • 37m and 48s
This week’s guest is Jeremiah Lee, who was previously a manager at Stripe and product manager at Spotify. This conversation focuses on org structure, and specifically Jeremiah’s experience with the popular squad model from Spotify. Jeremiah provides the backstory on where the model came from, what parts of the model were a challenge, and advice for leaders either already adopting the model or considering doing so. Discussion points: (1:40) What the Spotify model is (4:39) Jeremiah’s impression of the Spotify model as he joined the company (7:29) Spotify’s progress in adopting the model as Jeremiah joined (9:55) Challenges with matrix management (12:02) The role of engineering managers (14:40) What the model was designed to solve (15:54) Good autonomy versus toxic autonomy (18:51) How Agile coaches were used at Spotify (21:39) Advice for teams who are struggling to implement the Spotify model (24:50) Advice for leaders who are starting to think about org design (27:30) How Stripe approached org structure (30:26) How org structure affects a platform team’s work (33:32) Tracking engineering org structures (36:02) Why the squad model became so popular (39:37) What the original authors may have felt about the popularity of the model Mentions and links: Follow Jeremiah on LinkedIn Jeremiah’s Spotify’s Failed #SquadGoals The original whitepaper on the Spotify model: Scaling Agile at Spotify Team Topologies by Matthew Skelton and Manuel Pais Essential Scrum by Kenneth S. Rubin
11 January 2023 • 43m and 33s
Jean-Michel Lemieux, former CTO of Shopify and VP of Engineering at Atlassian, explains how to advocate for investing in platform work, which projects to fund, and what distinguishes a great platform leader. — Discussion points: (1:38) Jean-Michel’s definition of platform work (6:44) Why reliability, performance, and stability do fall within platform work (7:24) The consequences of lacking a product mindset in platform (9:20) Why and how to advocate for investing 50% of R&D spend in platform work (12:31) How Jean-Michel arrived at 50% as the percentage of R&D spend that should be allocated to platform (16:09) Jean-Michel’s experiences with different levels of investment in platform work (21:59) What percentage of platform investment should go towards keep the lights on work (24:01) Whether the allocation changes at different company stages (27:05) Why platform work is consistently underinvested in (29:00) Why having a platform team could be an anti-pattern (32:32) How to advocate for this work to leaders (35:35) What it looks like to over-invest in platform work (40:03) How to decide which initiatives to invest in (47:41) Making build vs buy decisions in platform work (49:58) What distinguishes a great platform leader — Mentions and links: Follow Jean-Michel Lemieux on LinkedIn and Twitter Abi’s post that sourced many of the questions discussed in this conversation Jean-Michel’s book chapter on platform investments Jean-Michel’s definition of what platform work is The podcast episode on what Shopify expects of managers
4 January 2023 • 52m and 45s
Jonathan Biddle, Director of Engineering Effectiveness at Wayfair, shares the story of how his team found repeat success and subsequently grew in size and scope. He shares lessons they’ve borrowed from startups, including understanding the adoption curve and knowing your core users, and offers advice for other platform teams looking to move to the next stage. — Discussion points: (01:15) How Jonathan moved into his role (05:30) Why Platforms teams are in a position of leverage, but also ambiguity (07:18) The initial work Jonathan’s team focused on (10:07) Creating transactional versus recurring value (11:36) The difference between startups and platform teams (14:12) Expanding the team’s scope and rebranding to Developer Acceleration (18:20) What drove the platform team’s success (21:05) Three adoption concepts to understand (24:41) Knowing your core customers (27:36) Adoption metrics and feedback gathering mechanisms (33:37) When to mandate adoption or rely on organic adoption (38:38) A story of when adoption fell short (45:35) Advice for how other teams can go from zero to one — Mentions and links: Follow Jonathan on LinkedIn Diffusion of Innovations by Everett M. Rogers (and the Wikipedia page for the book) Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia
20 December 2022 • 50m and 5s
Ian White, Director of Platform Engineering at DAT, joined the company to scale their Kubernetes-based cloud infrastructure, which has come under stress as their business has grown over the past couple years. Here he shares how he partnered with developers to learn about their challenges, how we conveyed a vision for how the company needed to evolve, and how he’s been working with development teams and business stakeholders to successfully drive change. — (01:00) - The challenges DAT was facing as Ian joined (05:13) - How Ian used customer interviews to understand problems (10:48) - The typical journey companies take as they scale their infrastructure as they grow (16:20) - How early changes were positioned and received (20:00) - The four personas Ian identified (25:14) - How Ian evangelized the vision (28:48) - Areas of pushback Ian foresees as they introduce new changes (33:00) - Handling teams that want to stay on self-managed infrastructure instead of moving to a managed infrastructure (41:55) - Managing business stakeholders (45:00) - Partnering with finance — Where to find Ian: Follow Ian on LinkedIn
13 December 2022 • 50m and 12s
Brian Guthrie, co-founder and CTO at Orgspace and former VP of Engineering at Meetup, has the unique experience of having previously decommissioned his Platform team. In this episode, Brian talks about that story openly, and shares advice for Platform teams to make sure they’re well positioned within their organizations. Discussion points: Brian’s background and story at Meetup - [00:02:20] Brian’s perspective on Platform work, generally - [00:06:40] The conversation around dissolving the Platform group - [00:12:05] Advice for Platform groups positioning their teams - [00:16:55] Making sure Platform groups are focused on the right problems [00:21:21] How Platform groups can think about communicating with the business [00:23:50] Bringing engineering teams into the planning process - [00:25:43] Deciding to build vs buy in a down market - [00:28:40] How developer happiness is part of positioning platform work [00:32:30] Follow Brian: Brian's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bguthrie/ Mentions and links: Brian's talk, Is the optimal size of a platform team... zero? The Future of Ops is Platform Engineering by Charity Majors Former Shopify CTO's take on the optimal spend on platform work Research on how developer happiness impacts productivity
7 December 2022 • 34m and 22s
Max Kanat-Alexander and Or Michael Berlowitz (Berlo), share how they gather both periodic and real-time feedback from developers. Discussion points: Overview of the listening channels used by Max and Berlo’s team - [00:00:58] Origin story of the Developer Engagement and Insights team - [00:02:49] Perspectives on volume metrics - [00:05:00] How the periodic surveys work - [00:08:51] Investment required to build the periodic surveys and real-time feedback - [00:14:20] How results are handled - [00:15:28] How the real-time feedback tool works - [00:21:40] Where the idea for the real-time feedback tool came from - [00:25:15] Building an MVP for the real-time feedback tool - [00:028:58] Other stakeholders involved in triaging feedback - [00:35:40] The experience developers have when encountering the real-time feedback tool - [00:37:34] How feedback collected via surveys differs from that of the real-time feedback tool - [00:40:44] Advice for other teams considering implementing this approach - [00:41:46]
30 November 2022 • 46m and 40s
Mark Côté, Director of Engineering of Developer Infrastructure at Shopify, explains an exercise the Infrastructure group went through to define their boundaries of work. He shares their areas of focus, the team’s guiding principles, how they use their developer happiness survey to decide what to prioritize, and more. — Discussion points: (0:48) Mark's background (1:43) How the Developer Acceleration org is structured (4:43) The Infrastructure team's chart (5:35) Three opportunities for impact (7:49) Identifying the opportunities for impact (10:51) Why they created a charter (17:34) Infrastructure's guiding principles (19:32) How they decide what to focus on (21:44) Why they don't have product managers (24:17) Ideas for reducing cognitive load (29:05) Balancing customer requests with strategic roadmap items (32:08) How Shopify's Developer Happiness survey works (35:32) Who is involved in the Dev Happiness survey (36:51) The survey's sampling strategy (37:30) How the survey's results are used (38:32) The survey's participation rate (39:31) Steps they take after the survey (42:52) Advice for others starting a developer acceleration team — Mentions and links: Follow Mark on LinkedIn Read blog posts written by members of Shopify's Developer Acceleration team
26 October 2022 • 45m and 41s
Utsav Shah, who leads Platform at Vanta and previously led Developer Effectiveness at Dropbox, shares the story of Dropbox’s journey with measuring developer productivity. Utsav discusses what he learned about both system and survey-based measures, his opinion on the usefulness of common Git metrics, and more.
12 October 2022 • 44m and 37s
Michael Galloway (Doma and ex-Netflix) describes his process for interviewing developers to understand where his team should focus. He also explains how he thinks about the strategic value of a Platform team. Resources mentioned: Customer Interview Guide Customer Interview Questions
5 October 2022 • 43m and 14s
In this episode, Willie Yao, Head of Infrastructure at Notion and former Head of Developer Infrastructure at Airbnb, provides a unique perspective on how Developer Experience teams work in hypergrowth companies. He shares how Airbnb developed a customer-first mindset internally, what it took to get Airbnb’s leadership invested in that effort, and how he’s approaching DevEx at Notion today.
28 September 2022 • 46m and 46s
Twitter’s Developer Experience team is more mature than most. Here, Jasmine James, a Senior Engineering Manager - Developer Experience, explains how her team manages support requests, why they consider personas as part of their prioritization, and how they present the ROI of the team’s work.
13 September 2022 • 28m and 28s
In this special episode, Dr. Nicole Forsgren, author of award-winning book Accelerate and co-author of "The SPACE of Developer Productivity", talks about her work with DORA, the inspiration behind the SPACE framework, and how she's thinking about developer experience. Watch the on-demand fireside chat or read the announcement of Nicole joining DX as a strategic advisor.
1 September 2022 • 31m and 21s
Brent Strange, Director of Engineering Excellence at GoDaddy, has a unique perspective on the role of an internal enablement team because he focuses more on the people and processes instead of tooling. Here he shares his perspective on org structure, as well as the role of agile coaches and his response to some of the negative views that exist towards Agile.
24 August 2022 • 32m and 20s
Sylvestor George (Staff Software Engineer on Slack’s Internal Tools Team) led a project to move the entire development experience to remote environments, which was widely regarded as a “dramatically better experience”. Here he shares the full story of that project, including how they identified the problem, the solution they created, and how they convinced engineers to adopt the new workflow.
10 August 2022 • 37m and 21s
In this episode Abi Noda is joined by Crystal Hirschorn, who leads Platform Infrastructure, SRE, and Developer Experience at Snyk. In their conversation, Crystal shares the story behind the recently founded Developer experience group, including why they named the team Developer Experience, how she calculates the cost of the problems they solve, and how they partner with engineering teams.
4 August 2022 • 33m and 13s
Max Pugliese, formerly the Director of Developer Experience at IBM, offers a look at what it’s like to support tens of thousands of engineers. He explains why it’s important to think about the culture and processes surrounding the tooling changes a team tries to implement, how to stay close to developers, and more.
28 July 2022 • 31m and 1s
In this episode Abi speaks with Jelmer Borst, Product Manager for Picnic Technologies’ Platform group. Jelmer explains what the value is of having a PM in an internal-facing team, and shares his process for gathering feedback from developers to understand where they’re experiencing friction.
13 July 2022 • 34m and
In this interview, Mojtaba Hosseini (Director of Engineering at Zapier) talks about how to approach using metrics, pitfalls teams run into, and the common evolution teams go through as they adopt metrics.
6 July 2022 • 46m and 3s
Julio Santana from Workday shares how he thinks about the ideal scope of a Developer Experience team, getting buy-in for DX initiatives, how his team gathers feedback from developers, and more.
29 June 2022 • 39m and 26s
In this episode we’re joined by Minh Pham and Titus Stone from Ibotta’s Developer Experience team. You’ll hear their story about how the DX team came into existence, why they view a DX team as a “startup within a startup”, and their vision for what DX at Ibotta will become.
23 June 2022 • 39m and 29s
In this episode Abi Noda speaks with Ryan Atkins, Asana’s Head of Engineering Operations. They talk about the role of EngOps and when it’s needed, founding an EngOps team, how these teams work in large companies, and more.
17 June 2022 • 46m and 39s
Will Larson, the CTO at Calm, covers a wide range of topics including whether Infrastructure Engineering is chronically understaffed, the role of Eng Ops, how his opinion on the “build vs buy” question has changed, his thoughts on metrics, and more. Helpful resources: Will's Infraeng book Will's article, Infrastructure planning Will's article, How to invest in infrastructure
8 June 2022 • 40m and 33s
Joining us for this episode is Victoria Morgan-Smith, the Director of Delivery for Engineering Enablement at the Financial Times. Victoria shares some of the tradeoffs in having an autonomous, “you build it, you run it” culture. She also shares how her group equips engineering teams with metrics, best practices, and more. Follow Victoria on LinkedIn
26 May 2022 • 35m and 18s
In this episode Abi talks with Peter Seibel. Peter previously was the Director of Engineering for the Democratic National Committee, and before that led Twitter’s Engineering Effectiveness (EE) team. In this interview, Peter reflects on his experience at Twitter, sharing why it’s better to invest in EE early and his vision for how EE teams can fulfill their potential. Useful links: Follow Peter on Twitter and LinkedIn Read Peter's post about leading Engineering Effectiveness at Twitter: Let a 1,000 Flowers Bloom. Then Rip 999 of Them Out by the Roots
12 May 2022 • 38m and 20s
In this episode, Varun Achar (Director of Engineering at Razorpay) explains how the Platform org has grown from a 15-person team owning everything, to 3 separate subteams. He also shares how they think about creating a culture of productivity, and some of the tactics they’ve used for increasing service adoption. Helpful links: Connect with Varun on LinkedIn Read Varun's blog post, The Platform Engineer
4 May 2022 • 36m and 41s
In this episode, Marco Chirico shares the strategies DoorDash’s Developer Productivity group uses to prioritize their work. He also explains how the Developer Productivity group has evolved over time, and how they measure their success today. Useful links: Connect with Marco on LinkedIn Read DoorDash's Engineering blog
20 April 2022 • 22m and 29s
Liz Saling, Director of Engineering at GitHub, shares the story of how the Developer Experience group was founded and why GitHub paused features for a quarter to focus on making developer experience improvements. Helpful links: Watch Liz’s GitHub Universe talk, “Paying Down Technical Debt” Find Liz on LinkedIn or Twitter Read Liz’s blog at lizsaling.com Read GitHub’s engineering blog
13 April 2022 • 43m and 6s
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