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Power Is Nothing Without Control

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Power Is Nothing Without Control

You can have all the data in the world, but it you don't have the proper tools to help you quickly and effectively analyze it, all that data is for naught.

· Big Data Zone ·
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"You can't control (leave alone improve) what you can't see." - Me

"Power is nothing without control." - Pirelli

Why a Dashboard?

When we drive our car we have everything under control: speed, revs, oil, and water temperatures and fuel level. We need a dashboard in our car because we have to know our current speed to respect speed limits, to know how much petrol we have in our fuel-tank to decide if we can go to work without a trip to the gas station, etc. All this data to do the simple job of driving! This is necessary because we need to make informed decisions.

What does it mean for our daily activities in a software department? We need our dashboard, too! How can we do our job of deliveing (not only writing!) working software with the lowest bug count possibile, quickly, on a budget, and coordinating with other people? It's a huge task compared to driving a car alone and yet many of us rely on instinct and guts to make decisions for an entire software team.

A Dashboard for the Software Engineer

Which indicators and gauges do we need as software engineers? I think there are a few things we always need to know about our team.

  1. Team Cycle time: how much time/days does a unit of work takes to go from started to completed? And with completed we mean delivered to the customer.
  2. Team Lead time: how much time/days dows a unit of work take to go from a created to completed?
  3. How fast are we going? How many story points we deliver every fixed amount of time? (Sprint, week... name your favorite).
  4. Bug count. How many known defects (bugs) do we have? Is the count increasing or decreasing?

Here we can see a dashboard created with Microsoft VSTS where the team can get an immediate report of the situation.

Create a Dashboard

Every team is different and needs a specific/custom dashboard. To create a dashboard with Microsoft VSTS we can go to:

https://THE_DOMAIN/THE_PROJECT/_dashboards/

and then we expand the dashboard list with the arrow button (1) and click New Dashboard (2).

We give our dashboard a name and hit Create.

We can add widgets picking from the right-side list, search or browse the Marketplace to add something extra to our VSTS.

When we've finished creating our dashboard we click "Done editing."

TL; DR

A dashboard is a must have to control or improve our team and our process. It enables us to understand our current indicators and shows if a new way to work improves or worsens the situation. With a dashboard, we can make informed decisions about many arugments: current velocity of the team, quality of the software, lead time, and so on. We've seen how to create and configure a dashboard with Microsoft VSTS.

Reference

Microsoft VSTS Docs: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/vsts/report/dashboards/?view=vsts

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Topics:
big data ,data dashboards ,data analysis ,tutorial

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