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Dispelling common misconceptions about engineering insights

Published: March 30, 2022

In some circles, “engineering insights” is a dirty word. There are technologists who think the term means constant oversight, needless data-gathering, and general micro-management. Productive, confident engineers might glance at Pluralsight Flow and question the value it ultimately provides. 

These concerns stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of what Flow was designed to accomplish. Far from being a tool for individual constraint or oversight, Flow models the many throughlines running from individual contributions to company goals, allowing leaders to catch bottlenecks as they arise and proactively find ways to increase team efficiency.

But Flow isn’t just about increasing performance and productivity. It’s also a powerful tool for improving developer experience. Flow fosters mental health best practices and makes it easy for team members to build deeper relationships. The data provided in Flow reports such as Check-In, Review Collaboration, and PR Resolution makes it much easier for all team members to collaborate, make the most out of one-on-one meetings, and see the bigger picture of how their contributions impact the team. 


Misconceptions of engineering insights

Flow goes beyond quantitative metrics, and instead looks at wider team processes. It is an all-in-one software delivery intelligence platform designed to promote team health, collaboration and a renewed sense of purpose for tech teams. Before delving further into its value, it’s worth providing some context on what Flow is not designed to do

  • Micromanage– Let’s face it, no one likes being told how to do their work. There are as many working styles as there are people — and in our new remote working world, it’s more vital than ever that companies accommodate these differences. While Flow provides data on team member performance, it is not intended as a tool for micromanagement. On the contrary, the data that Flow provides empowers team members to work in the way that suits them best, and to see directly how their individual working style promotes better outcomes for the entire team.

  • Isolate employees into a single task- With the breadth of performance and activity data that Flow generates, engineers may worry about leaders using those insights to “box them in” — that is, to constrain their contributions to a single role at which the data indicates they excel. But in practice, this is exactly the sort of siloed approach to team operations that Flow discourages. 

    Every engineer brings a multi-faceted set of skills to their team. Some of these skills may be unrealized, simply because the engineer hasn’t had an opportunity to practice them in a team context. While it’s crucial that all team members are aligned on a common goal, it’s equally important that everyone has some latitude to explore new ideas and skills. After all, this kind of freedom is what drives innovation in the first place. 

  • Call out people’s shortcomings– While every engineer brings a rich and unique skill set, the fact remains that no one excels at everything. When faced with the prospect of an engineering insights platform, team members may worry that the data will throw their individual shortcomings in stark relief for all to see. But Flow is a tool for empowerment, not for making team members feel inferior. Rather than highlighting weaknesses, leaders can use Flow to pick out areas of opportunity for team members. Flow presents these opportunities in the context of wider team goals, and never in a way that singles out any one team member.


Developer team health and collaboration

These days, with so many companies embracing remote work, fostering genuine connections among team members is a huge challenge — one that Flow is more than equipped to meet. 

Flow was designed with connectivity in mind. A key part of any successful team dynamic is psychological safety, when every team member feels secure in speaking up. Flow’s data transparency lays fertile ground for this kind of working environment. With access to both comprehensive and wide-ranging dashboards and reports, every team member gains a powerful understanding of how their contributions impact their broader organization. 

Flow also helps employees connect both meaningfully and more frequently with their leaders. The platform comes with a built-in Check-in Report feature that greatly improves the one-on-one experience for both participants. The Check-in report addresses a common issue on engineering teams: it’s very difficult for a manager to quantify how “well” an engineer is doing. As a result, one-on-one meetings tend to focus more on seeking out ways to measure progress, and less about forming genuine connections. 

The Check-in report takes care of the legwork up front. It provides easily-digestible performance metrics across multiple dimensions, including a code commit breakdown and a customized widget that identifies strengths and areas of improvement. The report offers views into performance over any time range up to 90 days in length, making it well-suited to streamline a variety of performance-related conversations. All of this frees up time for managers and employees to focus on what matters most: connecting on a meaningful level. 

Flow’s Review Collaboration Report also makes it easy for employees to identify cross-team collaboration opportunities by providing data-driven details on existing patterns in team collaboration. The report safeguards against knowledge silos and helps junior engineers learn from senior engineers. Statistics show that team members form stronger bonds when they work on projects together — and a team with strong bonds is far more likely to reliably deliver high-quality products than a team in which everyone operates in a vacuum. Moreover, new collaborative projects present team members with new opportunities for learning and upskilling. With Flow, an engineer might discover untapped potential in a skill they never would have considered using otherwise. 


Identify blockers and improve workflow efficiency

It’s all too common for tech teams (especially larger ones) to encounter bottlenecks in their macro-level workflow. Often, these small delays are imperceptible in isolation; their effects reveal themselves only after small inefficiencies accumulate over long periods of time. Flow offers a look in technicolor at the patterns in a team’s daily operations. Even the smallest bottlenecks become visible as they arise, allowing leaders to allocate resources more effectively, and proactively make adjustments they would not have considered otherwise. 

By offering a comprehensive picture of merged PR activity, the PR Resolution Report reveals the root causes of outliers in productivity. This makes it easy for teams to course-correct as needed, facilitating healthy work patterns for all.  


A software delivery intelligence platform for our modern world

In the context of our new remote world, accelerating demand for new products and the ongoing Great Resignation, it’s more essential than ever that teams predictably ship reliable, scalable and secure deliverables. Flow was designed to achieve exactly that. Empower your team with objective data to improve practices, make workflow improvements and overcome roadblocks to predictably deliver customer value.