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As an engineering manager, you’re responsible for communicating your team’s performance to more senior folks in your organization.

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These reporting sessions should tell your manager everything they need to know about how your team is getting on. They should deliver a clear and concise picture of your progress and flag the areas where you need support.

But building and creating an effective report is far from easy. That’s why we brought together a small group of engineering managers to discuss the common challenges and share their best practices for getting reporting right.

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The roundtable session also included a presentation from Roman Dupais, Director of Engineering at Code Climate, on the importance of reporting for engineering and the wider business.

In this article, we’ve captured the highlights so you can learn to level up your reporting too!

Using reporting to improve transparency and communication

Reporting isn’t just for your boss. Effective reporting can help you plan strategically, own your goals, and advocate for what your team needs. In this talk, Romain Dupais shares his recipe for a great report, helping you to create transparency for both engineering and the company at large. Check out the video below.

What are the biggest reporting challenges for managers?

A great report tells the story of a team and is backed up by meaningful metrics, but that can be easier said than done. Here are some of the biggest challenges for engineering managers, according to our participants:

  • Understanding what senior leaders are looking for in a report
  • Figuring out what to focus on e.g. people vs. technical vs. business updates
  • Getting the right balance between showcasing engineering wins and surfacing problems
  • Identifying the right metrics to measure engineering performance, and finding tools to track those metrics
  • Relating engineering metrics to wider business metrics if they aren’t obviously aligned

What information should managers include in their reports?

Because one of the biggest challenges is knowing what to share with senior stakeholders, we asked our engineering managers what information they’re currently reporting. Here are the things they’ve found helpful to include:

  • Metrics around team and project health, velocity (e.g. X number of Y shipped per week), capacity, and tech debt
  • Updates on projects including status, completion dates, and results
  • Current and upcoming risks facing your team, sharing initial investigations and providing evidence that issues are not related to a lack of effort
  • Updates on team goals for the current period and looking ahead
  • Any concerns that have an impact on the organization beyond your team
  • Celebrations of the positive work going on with your individual reports and their reports
  • Any sense of trends between individual pieces of engineering work
  • Your observations on the wider business
  • Updates on recruitment efforts

Key takeaways

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to reporting, but our discussion surfaced a few ways managers can set themselves up for success. Start by working with your own manager to set expectations on what should be reported. Remember that a great report includes a range of metrics – from progress and risks to organizational health and people – but those metrics should always be contextualized in terms of the human beings behind them; first and foremost, you’re telling a story. Finally, don’t forget to share what you’ve been working on personally; this is an opportunity to advocate for yourself, as well as your team. Good luck!

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