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    Developer Velocity Index - one-sided nonsense or useful?

    Jimi Wikman

    Developer Velocity Index, or DVI for short, is pushed hard by Microsoft right now as a way to sell Azure DevOps as I see it. So what is it and is it just another pointless measurement tool that does not address the big elephant in the room, or can it actually be useful? Let us dig into it and find out.

    So Developer Velocity Index is a tool for measuring, well, quite a lot actually. At first glance we see a lot of focus on tools, which of course is the main goal for Microsoft as they need to get more clients for Azure Devops that is trying to challenge prominent actors such as Atlassian.

    If you look a bit deeper however you will see that the DVI is pretty extensive. While focus is on tools it seems to look at these from a perspective that is not just focused on the development discipline. DVI claim to involve 46 different drivers across 13 dimensions and that is pretty good. I say claim because I have not tried this yet, so I do not know to what extent this is actually true.


    Developer Velocity:  How software excellence fuels business performance - by McKinsey & Company


    The DVI is based on self-assessment through questionnaires, which is not a bad way to do this honestly. It will ensure that the introverts also get a say, which is not always the case in verbal situations where the extroverts are always loudest.

    I see the tool angle a lot when reading about DVI, but when you dig down you see that what that almost always mean is that the tools in question bridge the gap between business and IT. Tools that help manage inflow, portfolio management and of course tools to help with clarifying need, especially in Agile teams. I think Tibi Covaci from Microsoft express this best:


    - Organizations where developers have access to better tools are also organizations where developers enjoy greater trust and can choose their tools themselves. It is not the tools themselves but the organization that gives success, concludes Tibi Covaci.


    I think this is profoundly true. Like my former colleague Eva Nordstrom would say "A fool with a tool is still a fool".  Good tools with a good and well-educated organization however, that will truly generate magic. It is my hope that DVI can help illustrate the need for organizational change to help facilitate that. This is often the biggest issue in my experience and one that is very hard to overcome.

    It is also no big revelation that most organizations find the funnel between business and IT to be lacking or that this is where most organizations fail. The introduction of Agile often make this worse, which is not the fault of Agile, but the way it is implemented in organizations. Hopefully DVI can illustrate the need to have a proper portfolio management on the operative level and that even in Agile work teams you need to ensure that demands are evolved.

    Ad-Hoc and shooting things from the hip are sure ways to make any developer sad after all, and we all want some form of structure to our chaos to ensure we know what to do, yet remain flexible...

    Developer Velocity Index is interesting, but it is still a stick that should not be needed in mature organizations. Sadly there are very few mature organizations out there, so I think this is very interesting for many reasons. I will dig into it some more and see what I can learn.

    What do you think?

    Is it just a selling tool for more tools you don't need, or something that can drive actual change?

    Discuss the Guide

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      About the Author

      Jimi Wikman is an experienced and much appreciated consultant that have worked as team lead, scrum master and project manager for many years. He is also a popular work process designer and educator with a specialty in the Atlassian products. With more than 25 years practical experience as a frontend developer, graphic designer, tester and requirement analyst he knows the pain and pleasures of what the teams face on a daily basis.

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