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Leading Indicators of High-Performing Delivery Teams

Measuring team performance should remain a top priority in every company. After all, it’s a direct measure of business value and an important factor for leaders when it comes to making major business decisions down the line. How does your delivery team measure up?
Daniel Zacharias

Eugenio de Tomaso

December 26, 2022
delivery teams

Technology companies find themselves in constant need to develop and deliver new products and services to keep up with their competitors. Having high-performing delivery teams allows these companies to create high-quality products that meet customer demands, provide updates, run continuous experiments, and solve customer problems.

But what does a “high-performing” team actually look like?

A few examples of leading indicators of high-performing delivery teams include high deployment frequency, functional communication, and strong development culture. Measuring these types of indicators can help businesses understand if software delivery operations are running smoothly and if any areas need improvement.

The top six leading indicators of high-performing delivery teams

The leading indicators of high-performing delivery teams are the skills and practices that help to set them apart from other software teams and also what gives the company a competitive edge. Delivery teams in possession of these qualities then consistently produce high-quality products while maintaining elevated levels of productivity.

Higher deployment frequency and lead time for changes

Companies with high-performing delivery teams have the ability to produce and launch products more frequently than their low-performing competitors. According to the 2017 State of DevOps Report by Puppet, high-performing delivery teams deploy to production 46 times faster than regular software teams.

They also have faster lead times for changes. This is the period of time between first creating code and finally having it run successfully in production. High-performing delivery teams have lead times for changes 440 times faster than other teams.

Functional communication

Many leaders and executives believe that one of the leading causes of failure in the workplace is the lack of effective communication and collaboration. This is why high-performing delivery teams use functional communication methods.

These elite teams take advantage of agile frameworks to promote good communication and collaboration. They adopt methods like scrum, SAFe, LeSS, Kanban, and even extreme programming.

Communication is not only important between high-performing team members, but it’s also necessary between the team and stakeholders. These teams also help to ensure they always build a common product vision, thus keeping great levels of transparency throughout the process.

Business-focused team engagement

High-performing delivery teams understand what their companies’ strategies are and can commit to delivering results based on business goals. All of their efforts are completely aligned with the business product vision.

To do this, high-performing delivery teams rely on showcases and attractive visuals to display their work to product owners, investors, and stakeholders. They also know how to efficiently use business language throughout, creating a bridge between the technical and corporate departments.

They also participate in short but frequent meetings in which they discuss what’s working and what needs improvement, share their opinions, and compare the productivity levels of different sprints.

Fearless (yet guided) experimentation

High-performing software delivery teams commonly work using an iterative development approach. This means that they often break the process of developing a large application into smaller steps, called iterations.

Because delivery teams are so focused on problem-solving, they’re commonly encouraged to venture into experimentation paths. Since their frameworks are so flexible and each process separates into smaller stages, it’s easy to pivot to a different path if things go wrong.

These teams may then work on any unconventional ideas and get proof of concepts as they work on them. This is why companies with high-performing delivery teams are more likely to create revolutionary products and services.

Strong development culture

High-performing software delivery teams promote a strong development culture by being proactive and taking the initiative to improve the quality and responsiveness of their software according to customers’ changing needs.

To do so, these teams maintain the habit of undergoing short development cycles that result in frequent releases. A few examples of other practices used by high-performing teams include using code refactoring to conduct code reviews and automating infrastructure through CI/CD pipelines.

Automation of repetitive tasks

High-performing delivery teams use Lean and Agile methodologies as a way to minimize waste and optimize efficiency in their software development processes. They’re able to break their projects into smaller tasks and eliminate the ones that aren’t valuable to the process.

They also only keep documentation, meetings, and other records or items that add value to product development.

Why companies should measure team performance

Delivery team performance is also a direct measure of the value of a business. Collaborative teams increase the value of products, reduce inefficient work practices and greatly improve productivity.

Measuring a team’s productivity is also very important for leaders to make major future business decisions. However, doing so isn’t as easy as counting revenue or the number of produced products. There are many other factors to take into account.

A few helpful metrics to consider when monitoring software delivery teams include improvements per sprint, team culture and communication, contribution to business value, reliability, predictability, and the quality of production.

Companies that constantly evaluate these parameters must also easily understand if they’re working with high-performing delivery teams. They also try identifying some of their most common characteristics, such as:

  • Team goals align with the project’s goals.
  • Team members remain focused on independent tasks.
  • All members take part in planning and monitoring.
  • Team members reach decisions by consensus.
  • The project leader and the delivery team own the plan and execution of the project.
  • Everyone on the team feels empowered, encouraged, listened to, and supported.
  • Team members work collaboratively to solve problems.
  • The team and leaders celebrate individuality as well as the team as a whole.

Leading indicators of high-performing delivery teams – final considerations

High-performing delivery teams are extremely efficient and productive software development teams that constantly deploy new, high-quality products, providing a massive competitive edge to their companies.

The top six leading indicators of high-performing delivery teams include higher deployment frequency and lead time for changes, functional communication, business-oriented team engagement, experimentation, strong development culture, and automation of repetitive tasks.

Measuring team performance should remain a top priority in every company. After all, it’s a direct measure of business value and an important factor for leaders when it comes to making major business decisions down the line.

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