Uplevel Blog

How directors can use Uplevel to run engineering teams

With many moving pieces in their domain, directors need to process a lot of information while making swift decisions. Uplevel brings the right information to the surface and prompts effective action.
Author: uplevel
Tags: Blog

Directors have their eyes on many teams in their organization. The role is typically invested in individual progress as well as broad patterns. The problem is, there’s so much to track, and not many reliable ways to get consolidated answers.

That’s where an engineering effectiveness platform like Uplevel can support directors. This isn’t a tracker to stack-rank engineers. It’s not a watchdog to target low productivity. Instead, we draw data-based insights to highlight which teams are excelling, where your process needs attention, and where to prioritize when you have limited bandwidth.

Within Uplevel, directors see a Teams Dashboard with a tile for each direct report and their corresponding teams. They see immediate signs of productivity, including work allocation for each person. Additionally, directors see signs of personal well-being, like high context switching or overtime activity.

As a director, you likely start the day with routine questions. These Uplevel features give you accessible answers to better understand organizational health.

Is anyone nearing burnout?

You know which teams are balancing a lot of work. Some might be thriving with that workload, while others might be approaching their edge. Getting a daily update on their condition helps directors quickly identify where their attention can make the biggest impact.

  • What are they working on? From each Team Tile on the Teams Dashboard, you can explore active work (like open PRs and Jira tickets). You’ll see the names of these tickets to get an idea of the type of work, like a business-critical project that’s stressing out the company, or a tiresome round of bug work.
  • Are they working long hours? We call this “Always On”—which teams are working longer than eight-hour days? This might indicate early mornings, late nights, or work on weekends. Our smart metric identifies active working hours and adjusts for flexible schedules, so the Always On measurement truly tracks long hours, not just work beyond 9-to-5.
  • Who is being pulled in too many directions? You might get a sense of this from scanning the list of open PRs and Jira issues. For a related proxy, look at context switching. This measures how often your team members have to change focus. Too many changes of focus in a day can lead to dwindling outcomes, so it’s recommended to narrow workload to fewer, deeper tasks.

Are we making progress on our highest priorities?

When you’re managing an engineering organization, you’re less involved in the daily progress of work, and more in tune with larger business priorities. Look to your teams’ work allocation to understand where their energy is going—and if it’s aligned with the company’s goals.

  • What is being worked on? Dive into work allocation to see which projects are getting top attention right now. You can organize by work type (X, Y, and Z) to understand different categories, or filter by person to see individual workload.
  • Was any work added mid-sprint? To identify work that’s taking place of business priorities, you may want to narrow in on work that was added during a sprint. No matter how small, any unexpected work can throw off the plan.

Are teams working efficiently?

Efficiency can be unwieldy to measure. The concept is a worthy goal, yet it’s typically answered by a straight look at throughput. Directors are in the position to enhance their teams’ efficiency at the high-level.

  • Is anyone overcommitted? Scan team by team: who has the most open lines of work? Who has more yellow than green? Those teams might be struggling with maxed-out bandwidth. Take the opportunity to browse Project Explorer for deeper insights and load-balance across your teams. If this pattern continues, you may want to consider increasing headcount.
  • Do I need to increase headcount? Consistently high levels of “Always On” or context switching can show the need for more developers. Beyond that, you’ll want to consider the balance of legacy features and new features in a team’s work queue. Teams that own a higher proportion of legacy features will likely have the responsibility of that maintenance. Managing that effort, plus building new features, might take a larger team.
  • Is anyone being randomized? When engineers are given the chance to develop areas of expertise, they can become more efficient at those tasks. Conversely, when devs are randomized with incoming work and breaking news, they’re constantly shifting focus and may run less efficiently. This is a sign to better protect your teams during the process of work allocation.

Directors have access to surface-level and deep-dive information about their teams in the many features of Uplevel. You can also uplift your managers with these insights so they can better support their developers. Ready to experience it yourself? Request a demo.