SPACE (The SPACE of Developer Productivity)
  • 09 Aug 2021
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SPACE (The SPACE of Developer Productivity)

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SPACE is an emergent model for measuring developer productivity. The lead researcher who helped develop the framework is Dr. Nicole Forsgren, who previously led the work on creating the DORA Four Key Metrics (Accelerate book) for DevOps teams.

The work was originally communicated in ACM Queue in an article called The SPACE of Developer Productivity.

Strengths

Useful Mental Model for Engineering Managers

SPACE provides a useful mental model of some of the key metrics that Engineering Managers might want to think about when understanding how engineers are working.

Limitations

Focuses on People Rather Than Process

The SPACE metrics focus on people rather than process. These mean the metrics have limited utility for driving engineering productivity.

Furthermore the focus on people can lead to degraded psychological safety, which in turn leads to ineffective development teams.

Hard to Identify a Constraint

To drive process improvements, your metrics must allow you to focus in on the area of your Software Development Life Cycle that is the bottleneck.

The SPACE model uses a disparate set of metrics so it's hard to drill-in to the constraint using a focusing process like Theory of Constraints.

By using Cycle Time (and its sub-metrics) you can visualise your Software Development Lifecycle and identify where the constraints are.

Conclusions

SPACE is a useful model for engineering managers to understand how individuals are working.

For making process improvements, it's important to use metrics that are instead suited to measuring a Software Development Lifecycle, like Cycle Time.


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