Parchment

Parchment – Rethinking Metrics: A Journey from Legacy Measures to Team Success

The Challenge

After undergoing digital transformation and modernizing their engineering capabilities, Parchment found themselves at a crossroads. Despite their remarkable progress, they were still continuing to measure engineering performance using outdated, legacy metrics that focused on activity and individual output rather than team outcomes.

To gain visibility into software delivery bottlenecks and areas for improvement, Parchment initially took the route of building an in-house solution. However, the internal costs and resource demand proved unsustainable after undergoing a two-year pilot. Learning from their previous experience, Parchment needed an enterprise solution that was both cost-effective and supported their long-term flow adoption strategy.

“While legacy metrics may make sense in a department where they have numbers that can predict success, a lot of this approach doesn't work well with knowledge work or creating and delivering software. These numbers aren't worth much if goals themselves don't lead to better outcomes.”

– Phil Clark, VP Head of Application Engineering

The Solution

Parchment selected Planview® Viz as the enterprise value stream management solution to support their modernized capabilities and teams and provide insight into the performance of their end-to-end software delivery lifecycle. Leveraging the advanced functionalities of Planview Viz, Parchment replaced legacy engineering metrics with Flow Metrics.

This shift not only provided engineering teams with visual insights into their software delivery progress and bottlenecks, but also fostered a culture of transparent communication and experimentation among teams, leading to improved outcomes.

“Planview Viz empowers software delivery teams by offering a systematic, flow-focused approach. It provides teams with visual insights into their progress and bottlenecks and fosters a shared understanding of the team's delivery process. When teams value and utilize metrics to enhance their delivery, focusing on bottlenecks and friction points, the numbers the business tracks will naturally follow suit because improvement becomes inherent."

– Phil Clark, VP Head of Application Engineering

About Parchment

Parchment was founded in 2003 with the mission of turning credentials into opportunities. Using Parchment, academic institutions, organizations, and individuals can connect on a single platform to securely send, receive, and engage with credentials with Parchment’s easy-to-use and efficient products.

Today, Parchment delivers the most comprehensive academic digital credential management and global networking solution on the market and has enabled the global exchange of more than 100 million transcripts, diplomas, certificates, and other credentials. Parchment is headquartered in Arizona, USA, and has a presence in Australia, Ireland, and Canada.

Challenge: Lack of visibility into software team delivery, legacy engineering metrics unable to measure business outcomes

Following a pivotal digital transformation and the introduction of value stream management to transition from project-centric to product-centric approaches, Parchment's senior business leaders encountered an unforeseen challenge. They still relied on outdated pre-agile metrics to evaluate engineering performance and software delivery. These legacy metrics focused on individual output metrics like lines of code and utilization targets rather than team delivery and outcomes, and inadvertently fostered a counterproductive culture centered around gamification.

Phil Clark, digital transformation leader at Parchment and VP Head of Application Engineering, recognized the need to shift the mindset of leaders and adopt team-focused Flow Metrics that provided visibility across the entire software delivery lifecycle into bottlenecks and areas for improvement while also promoting cross-functional communication and an outcome-focused culture.

“Gaining buy-in from leadership required distinguishing between traditional, output-centric measures of progress that incentivized individual efforts to team metrics focused on improving overall throughput,” said Clark. “While legacy metrics may make sense in a department where numbers can predict success, this approach doesn't work well with creating and delivering software.”

Parchment initially decided to build their own solution in-house, based on a prototype of Planview Viz, to stay within their allocated budget. Their in-house solution supported teams and leaders with the required capabilities and metrics, but with two dedicated internal resources required to maintain it, the investment proved unsustainable for the long term.

“We had the data engineering capabilities, visual tools, and expertise at our fingertips. What we didn't account for was the anti-pattern and the impact of splitting these team members’ time between their primary commitments, and the future costs [of maintaining a home-grown solution] If we continued down this road,” said Clark.

When comparing the total cost of ownership, ROI, and opportunity costs, it became evident that development and maintenance costs of the in-house platform surpassed the cost of acquiring a pre-packaged off-the-shelf solution.

Solution: Adopting Planview® Viz provides Flow Metrics and team insights into bottlenecks for improved delivery

After two years of running and maintaining their in-house solution, business and technology stakeholders agreed on the need to purchase a purpose-built value stream analytics platform.

Informed by learnings from their internal pilot, Parchment sought a value stream management solution with enterprise capabilities that could support their organization from ideation to operation, offering deep insights into delivery and cycle time to drive proactive bottleneck resolution and team improvements. The solution’s impact on team sentiment and its role in fostering a positive team culture and engagement was also a key factor in the purchase decision.

“Our experience was not a walk in the park. The market had many options, and the sales cycle dragged on for well over a year. We experimented with building in-house, dealt with misalignment on long-term versus short-term strategy, and had some really tough conversations,” said Clark.

Planview Viz emerged as the value stream management solution best suited to support Parchment's modernized teams, capabilities, and long-term strategy of increasing flow and efficiency across the organization.

“In the end, we were able to make a solid case for buying and choosing Planview Viz, thanks to our previous investments, and where we stand in our transformation journey,” said Clark.

Results: End-to-end visibility into team delivery eliminates waste and drives improvement

Following the implementation of Planview Viz, Parchment prioritized the key area for improvement that was identified during their solution testing phase. To reduce the almost completely manual work and waste associated with pull request review and policy, Parchment adopted pull request automation and continuous merge.

“Most organizations today have embraced pull requests as a crucial part of their delivery process. I'm happy to say that our continuous merge foundation and practice went live in 2023,” said Clark.

In addition to delivery improvements, Parchment has established a monthly cadence to review metrics, hold retrospectives, and drive conversations and engagement among teams. This supports their long-term strategy to adopt a positive culture of flow and efficiency across the organization.

“Using Planview Viz and Flow Metrics have been the most promising approach to measuring and improving delivery performance that I've encountered in my 24-year career.”

– Phil Clark, VP Head of Application Engineering

Future: Expanding metrics and scaling a culture of flow and efficiency across the organization

Parchment began their journey with a "think big, start small, and scale out" strategy and plans to adopt and expand phase by phase over the next couple of years.

“Next year is all about continuing to experiment with improvements, gain experience with the tool set, adapt and alter practices, and begin promoting efficiency conversations beyond delivery,” explained Clark.

Guided by the philosophy that visibility leads to improvement, and having embraced a culture of flow, Parchment is laying the foundation for two years down the road when they plan to implement the next phase of their transformation journey and expand flow across the organization.

“Given our team structures, culture, and ways of working, this approach has huge potential to be used for improving flow and efficiency at Parchment,” Clark said.

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