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Engineering Management

How Visibility can be a Superpower

Written by 
Brenda Jin

How engineering teams leverage visibility to save time, coordinate more effectively, and develop strong teams

One of the hardest aspects of remote engineering management is consistently getting a pulse on the overall health of a team. 

This was already hard enough in person, but because of the high autonomy of engineers, and the different working styles of individuals and teams, this problem gets exacerbated when shifting to remote.

We set out to solve this at Bennu, and through conversations with hundreds of managers who have successfully navigated the shift to remote work, we’ve come to realize that visibility is a superpower for engineering teams. Here’s 3 reasons why:

  1. Knowing the pulse of your engineering team saves everyone time

Engineers love to monitor the health of the systems they build. 

Engineering managers are no different, especially when it comes to getting a pulse on the overall health of the engineering team. Getting insight into where projects stand and what blockers exist saves you and the whole team from finding out the hard way and missing delivery deadlines. 

Getting that info can often take a long time—managers report spending several hours per month collecting and reporting this very information. Managers even tell us that they spend hours in cross-team meetings every week, trying to pre-empt dependency issues. That’s why automating and improving your engineering team’s visibility can help reduce that time you and your team are spending both finding this data, and preventing delivery issues, and redistribute that time back to moving projects forward.

When projects are blocked or unhealthy, engineering leaders need enough visibility to know what’s actionable. Whether things have gone well or not, engineering leaders need to be able to look back on trends to analyze the effectiveness of their organizations, and key factors for various outcomes. 

  1. Better cross-functional coordination

Today, it is unreasonable to assume that teams operate in vacuums. Engineering teams are highly cross-functional and collaborative, sometimes working within complex dependency graphs to ship releases.This means that the speed and coordination of one team can affect other teams within your engineering organization. 

Unlocking visibility can help managers better coordinate cross-functional dependencies. Finding a visibility product that allows managers to set alerts and follow initiatives can help managers anticipate impact to their teams and better coordinate with other leaders. When one manager has a sense of how the team is doing and moving forward, they can better communicate their own timelines and needs to other teams, allowing them to coordinate appropriately. If other teams also put visibility as a focus, the entire organization can communicate more effectively and complete projects more efficiently.

  1. Accommodate diverse work styles

Many managers have talked to us about the importance of supporting diverse work styles during the shift to remote work. When visibility is instrumented correctly, it enables more autonomy where teams can pick the style that is most effective for their own delivery KPIs, while contributing to the company’s topline goals. 

When your engineering team has the level of visibility that covers the range of work styles in your organization, everybody has more flexibility to do their best work.

  1. Coach and develop software engineers 

Visibility can play a surprising role in coaching and developing software engineers. 

It’s hard to give someone feedback when there isn’t a standard to compare their work to. It’s the same thing here - leveraging visibility can help you as the leader see how different employees are performing, and use that information to help set an internal standard. This can be used to show junior engineers how a top performer in the organization operates, and you both can come up with a development plan that gets them to that standard.

Engineering managers are increasingly using data to coach and develop engineers.

For example, with Bennu, engineering managers can highlight data points for potential role models, like how quickly and thoroughly senior engineers provide code review feedback, how thoroughly they write tests, and how frequently they merge new code.

Having this data can help you guide reports on how to focus their skill development through tricky transitions like from junior to senior engineer, and from senior to staff engineer.

Bennu makes it easy for engineers to communicate about their growth and development.

Visibility, if leveraged correctly, can save you time, support cross-functional collaboration, and support feedback and coaching.

If Bennu can help you unlock visibility across your organization, we’d love to hear from you!

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