How Zoopla use DORA to increase performance

Photo by amir shamsipur on Unsplash

Focusing on DORA metrics increases developer performance. This is what the Google State of Devops report tells us, but does this claim stack up in the real world? We’ve taken a look at how Zoopla applies the DORA framework, and the results are compelling.

What is DORA?

DORA (DevOps Research and Assessment) is a research program famed for their ‘State of DevOps’ annual report which covers over 7 years of research and data from over 32,000 professionals. They have created a framework for maximizing developer performance, which is the bedrock of good DevOps practice in 2022.

Want a quick summary of their latest (45 page!) report? We do the hard work for you in our recent blog post.

So, this is all great in theory, but how can DORA be applied in the real world?

Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

Metrics that matter

Zoopla have taken the 45 pages of information and data and boiled it down to its core, the metrics that matter. They started their transformation through understanding, baselining and tracking four DORA ‘delivery’ metrics:

  1. Deployment frequency

Zoopla were looking to limit the amount of code going to production and therefore increase the frequency of deployments so value was realized sooner by their users.

Baseline: 1 deployment a week

  1. Lead time for changes

Here they were looking to optimize work in progress through reducing the amount of blockers faced by their developers.

Baseline: 10 days

  1. Time to restore services

Here they were looking to improve the speed of incident recovery by investing in SRE best practice and automation, with the aim of shortening the time required to remove any customer impact.

Baseline: not measured historically

  1. Change failure rate

Finally Zoopla were looking to reduce the percentage of changes to production that resulted in problems for their services, and subsequently required a rollback, hot fix, fix forward or patch. The aim here was to increase the quality of their releases.

Baseline: 60%

Photo by JASUR JIYANBAEV on Unsplash

How to collect DORA metrics

Zoopla had to follow a quite manual and disparate process to collate the data needed for the 4 metrics, sometimes using multiple systems for a single metric. They collected this information from Gitlab, Jenkins and Blameless using APIs and a standardized data schema they had to create. They then surfaced the data in a Google spreadsheet.

Sounds cumbersome? We think so! This use case is a prime example of why Adadot is the perfect tool for collating, tracking and leveraging both yours and your team’s DORA metrics. We do the hard work for you by integrating with a series of tools, before displaying the data in real time on our interactive dashboard. It’s then over to you to positively influence the easy to access data and trends.

Is tracking DORA metrics useful?

Yes, and the uplift in performance Zoopla experienced speaks for itself. So, we will let the data do the talking here:

MetricBaseline scoreNew score
Deployment frequency7 daysDaily (circa 40 times a day)
Lead time for changes10 days< 2 days
Time to restore servicesNo data1 – 3 hours for sev0 and sev-1 issues
Change failure rate60%< 5%

What do these metric shifts ultimately mean?

  1. They are shipping value to their users over 285 times more often
  2. Their lead time for changes is over 5 times quicker, meaning their developers are facing far less blockers
  3. They are now focussing on how quickly they restore services in an empirical way
  4. Their code quality is significantly better (over 12 times, based on change failure rates) 

Part of the key to Zoopla’s success with this initiative was ensuring this data was front and center. Their dashboard is a central information radiator for their senior engineering management team, but is also included in monthly town hall meetings and operations meetings. It is also used actively on the ground by individual developers and teams who are encouraged to retro their metrics to find ways to leverage them and improve.

Photo by Mitchell Luo on Unsplash

Can we go beyond DORA’s delivery metrics?

DORA as a framework is actually a whole lot more than just productivity metrics. It also notably focuses on reducing burnout amongst developers. With a recent study showing that 83% of developers feel a degree of burnout, it is a significant business and societal issue. We also know that productivity and wellbeing are intrinsically linked, so the importance of reducing burnout both personally and in our teams is integral.

Adadot not only makes tracking DORA’s productivity metrics easy, but it also ingests data around collaboration and wellbeing, giving a rounded and sustainable view on how you and your team are performing. It is the ultimate fitness tracker for work.

It’s free to try, so why not dive in and see how you measure up today?


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