April 29, 2024

Last Updated on April 29, 2024

Orgs that develop software are always seeking ways to improve agility and reduce risk. Based on over seven years of ongoing surveys, the DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA) team (part of Google Cloud since 2018) has identified five metrics that most effectively measure DevOps performance. Tracking these metrics helps teams streamline software delivery and communicate DevOps impacts and benefits to business leaders.

This blog post introduces the 5 DORA metrics and explains how they can help you measure DevOps effectiveness and accelerate performance.


What is DORA for DevOps?

Software development teams face unrelenting competitive pressure to improve reliability, user experience, and delivery cadence. The DORA metrics for DevOps offer a proven, structured, approach to assess and improve your DevOps practices.

Leveraging DORA guidance, teams can move beyond anecdotal observations and instead apply quantifiable data that meaningfully measures their DevOps performance in pursuit of specific objectives. Embracing DORA metrics puts DevOps teams on a path of continuous improvement, improved agility, and enhanced competitiveness to keep pace with accelerating digital change.


What are the 5 DORA metrics?

DORA focuses on 5 (originally 4) key performance metrics that together provide a meaningful picture of an organization’s DevOps performance.

The 5 DORA metrics are:

  1. Deployment frequency. How frequently is code being deployed to production? High deployment frequency is a hallmark of continuous delivery and rapid iteration capabilities, reflecting agility and responsiveness to business needs.
  2. Mean lead time for changes (MLT). MLT measures the time it takes for code to progress from being committed by developers to successfully running in production. Short lead times connote efficient processes and the ability to deliver features and fixes rapidly. This indicates responsiveness to business and market demands.
  3. Mean time to recover (MTTR). MTTR measures the average time needed to recover from a production failure. Shorter MTTRs demonstrate a stronger ability to identify and address issues. This minimizes downtime and customer impacts.
  4. Change failure rate. Change failure rate is the percentage of deployments to production that result in failure or require remediation. Lower change failure rates show a stable and reliable deployment process, which is essential to maintain customer trust and operational efficiency.
  5. A measure of overall software development performance, reliability targets software product health and stability. It encompasses indicators like availability, latency, error rates, and mean time between failures (MTBF).


What are the top benefits from using DORA metrics?

Organizations across industries can use DORA metrics to improve their DevOps performance, minimize customer impacts, preserve revenue, and maximize business value and return on investment (ROI). DORA metrics also help translate DevOps performance into important business yardsticks like increased productivity, reduced downtime, or improved customer satisfaction.

Benefits for DevOps teams from using DORA metrics can include:

  • Streamlined software delivery. Teams can apply DORA principles to accelerate their software delivery processes, reduce time to market, and increase customer satisfaction.
  • Improved decision-making. Tracking DORA metrics helps teams understand the status of their software development process using data rather than guesswork. This helps them identify bottlenecks and drive decisions that result in measurable improvements.
  • Verifiable business value. DORA metrics give DevOps teams a tangible way to demonstrate business value and positive customer impacts.
  • Continuous improvement opportunities. Along with demonstrating value, DORA metrics can help DevOps teams baseline their performance, clarify where there are opportunities for continuous improvement, and set new goals to optimize performance based on identified technology, processes, and other factors.

Benefits for companies from applying DORA metrics can include:

  • Meaningful benchmarking and comparison. The DORA framework encourages organizations to benchmark their software development performance against industry peers and leaders. This helps measure success, identify areas for improvement, and set meaningful targets to establish a roadmap for growth.
  • Enhanced business agility. Agile DevOps practices and a culture of continuous improvement empower businesses to respond more quickly than competitors to opportunities and changing market conditions.
  • Reduced risk. DORA metrics like failure rates and MTTR help businesses minimize the risk associated with software deployments.
  • Better collaboration. DORA promotes collaboration between development and operations teams that break down silos of information and help build a culture of shared responsibility.


How can my business implement DORA?

Implementing DORA involves several key steps. Among the first is to setup a system for data collection, analysis, and reporting. Then you can better apply the insight gained from these data-driven measurements to make informed decisions and drive DevOps improvements.

To get the most from the DORA framework, many teams leverage automation, infrastructure as code, and the use of DevOps toolchains.

When adopting DORA metrics, teams often encounter hurdles around data collection, organizational resistance to change, and the cultural shift necessary to fully embrace DevOps principles.


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What’s next?

For DevOps practitioners and leaders, the DORA framework is a blueprint for excellence in software delivery and operational performance. By relying on data-driven metrics, benchmarking, and a path to continuous improvement, companies can use DORA to optimize their DevOps practices, leading to differentiating levels of competitive agility in a digital landscape epitomized by accelerating change.

To connect with an expert on how best to apply DORA metrics in your unique DevOps environment, contact CBIZ Pivot Point Security.