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Vital used Multitudes to identify bottlenecks and speed up delivery.

41%

decrease in <code-text>PR Wait Time<code-text> in 1 week

74%+

reduction in <code-text>Time to Merge<code-text> within 2 weeks

Vital — which provides software that empowers patients, families, and clinicians during and after a hospital visit — used Multitudes insights to identify and address bottlenecks that were slowing down the flow of work.


Will O’Neil is an Engineering Manager at Vital; he had only been in the role for a couple of months and wanted to get an understanding of the bottlenecks and pain points that could be slowing down their engineering teams. 

As a result, he was spending a lot of time on the factors that influence team effectiveness and how communication was going across engineering teams and with external stakeholders.

The Challenge

Vital was going through a period of rapid growth, which meant that they had lots of new team members and a growing number of teams. Given all the changes they were experiencing, Will wanted to understand if there was anything that was getting in the way of the teams’ ability to deliver work effectively.

“Multitudes data gives me insight into what causes spikes in PRs and allows me to ask: What might have led to that? If something's trending up in one team and not on another, is there something that's blocking those teams?”

Will O’Neil, Engineering Manager, Vital


Our unique insight

In the Multitudes app, Will saw that the <code-text>Time to Merge<code-text>, while usually within a day, had increased to 2-3 days. <code-text>Time to Merge<code-text> (how long it takes from starting work until it’s production-ready) is closely related to the <code-text>Lead Time<code-text> metric, one of the top four indicators of team and financial performance for software development teams, based on multi-year research by DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA).

When Will looked into the data, he saw that some teams had seen a larger increase than others. This led him to ask, “What might have led to that? If something's trending up in one team and not on another, is there something that's blocking those teams?”.

Graphs to illustrate Vital's engineering velocity in February


Actions taken

When Will dived into the data, he could see that the teams with the increase in <code-text>Time to Merge<code-text> also had much larger PRs. Studies from Google have found that as the size of PR increases, the number of useful comments decreases and the review latency increases – so the smaller PRs are correlated with better quality and faster delivery. 

When Will raised the topic with the team, they also realized that, because of all the recent hiring and different backgrounds of the team, people had different expectations around how to write and review PRs. To get everyone on the same page, they made two key changes:

(1) In their PR norms, they set a goal to write shorter PRs. 

(2) In their code review documentation, they set expectations around how to have notifications configured, how quickly responses were expected, and what kind of feedback should be given in order to improve that flow of collaboration.


“We were reviewing the apps we pay for and asking, “Are we getting value out of this?” to decide whether to keep using it. I said that we were definitely getting value out of Multitudes.”

Will O’Neil, Engineering Manager, Vital


Outcome

In the week following the team discussion, the engineering teams started to respond more quickly to review requests – <code-text>PR Wait Time<code-text> reduced by 41% during this period.

Moreover, <code-text>Time to Merge<code-text> dropped significantly across all of Vital’s teams – ranging from a 74% decrease all the way to a 97% one! This decrease held steady for the three weeks following.

Graphs to illustrate Vital's engineering velocity in February
What next? 

As Will said, “Multitudes data gives me insight into what causes spikes in PRs and allows me to ask: What might have led to that? If something's trending up in one team and not on another, is there something that's going on there that is causing the team an issue?”

Next time, Will might be curious to see if the <code-text>Time to Merge<code-text> varies depending on the type of work. Coming soon in the app, he’ll be able to examine trends for different repos or for different types of work (like bug versus feature work).

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