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Is Swarmia the right tool for you?

Engineering teams are getting results with Swarmia. But every team is different. Will it work for you? Here are some real objections we've heard.


I don't understand who Swarmia is for

We believe that long-term engineering productivity improvements start from the needs of engineering teams. If you don't get the teams' buy-in when measuring productivity and engagement, it's unlikely that you would be able to trust the data for further insights.

We built Swarmia by focusing on teams, giving them visibility into how they work and how they can improve. Here's how it works:

  • Teams get actionable insights to improve every day.
  • They own their data, ensuring the best possible data quality.
  • Engineering leaders get high-level visibility.
  • Individual developers get context to their daily work and handy tools that save them time.

A holistic view of engineering productivity, combined with our focus on teams leads to long-term productivity improvements for the whole organization.


Our teams are not ready for this kind of transparency

The software industry has a long history of focusing on harmful metrics like lines of code to measure developer productivity. But there is a pragmatic way to increase transparency in a way that actually helps teams ship better software faster. Rather than spying on developers, we help you find the real bottlenecks in your organization. These bottlenecks are almost invariably processes, not people.

We know that the best teams focus on optimizing for the whole, not the individual. In Swarmia, you won't see leaderboards ranking developers or teams from best to worst. We focus on healthy, well-researched team metrics around focus, delivery, collaboration, and quality — areas that are already in the teams' domain. With added visibility to teams’ focus, delivery, collaboration, and quality, we can focus on gradually improving the teams' ways of working.

If someone in the team is blocked or ends up working alone on a complex problem, it's a team matter too. Swarmia enables meaningful conversations in 1-1's and team meetings based on real data.


I don't need yet another dashboard to look at

We believe in the power of metrics, but metrics alone don't drive change. Our goal is to help teams improve in a way that sticks. It means not only identifying blockers and anti-patterns but helping teams to take action to improve every day.

In Swarmia, teams create working agreements around how they want to work. Here are some examples:

  • Merge all pull requests in under 7 days
  • Review pull requests in under 24 hours
  • Don't push code to master without review
  • Don't work on more than two user stories at once (work in progress limits)
  • Resolve critical bugs in under 24 hours

But building new habits doesn't happen automatically. People often need to be reminded of new ways of working, and doing this constantly as a leader is an thankless job. Our Slack bot carefully nudges teams to respect their agreements and take action to stay on track. It may mean closing those stale pull requests, prioritizing a project lagging behind schedule due to unplanned work, or unblocking a person working alone on a complex problem.

This approach has enabled several of our customers to start shipping code 30–50% faster in under 3 months.


I don't have time for this. We have more pressing issues to solve.

Sure, when your organization is already dealing with a lot of complexity, starting with a new tool doesn't sound like a brilliant idea. Your focus is on delivering on those business objectives, scaling the team, and keeping the organization running.

Imagine you could remove blockers slowing teams down, and deliver on your top priorities 10x faster. For an engineering leader, is there anything more important?

There are no silver bullets to 10x improvement, and driving systematic change requires time, commitment, and outstanding leadership. Engineering productivity has to be on top of a leader's agenda. The good news? You can start improving today.

Swarmia creates and fosters a culture of continuous improvement within your teams and boosts focus and delivery without steering their attention away from things that matter. We've seen teams achieving a sharp productivity increase with Swarmia within 4–6 weeks.

If you're still thinking now is not the right time to start improving productivity, check out this blog post.


I don't think this tool can accurately reflect the way we work

If there's one thing we know about modern engineering organizations, it's that every team is different. We don't push you into a One Right Way of Working™️, but adapt to your process and learn from how you work.

If your teams use Jira in a unique way, that's not a problem. We have never seen two teams using Jira the same way, really. If teams have different routines or interpretations of kanban, scrum, sprints, retrospectives, etc. we adapt to that.

We support a vast array of team structures and hierarchies, squads, groups, tribes etc. In the unlikely case we don't already support the way you working, we're happy to learn more and adapt.


I don't think I'm going to learn anything new from this tool

Many blockers that slow teams down are quite tricky to diagnose with your existing tools. In reality, the most common blockers take no longer than a week to remove, but if you're oblivious to their existence, they will keep haunting teams for years.

Most of our customers are surprised to see just how much unplanned work is not reflected on their roadmap, but is now visible in Swarmia.

Will this be the case with you? We don't know. After your issue tracker data has synced, Swarmia takes 10 minutes to set up. If you don't find value in the tool within your 14–day trial, you can simply disconnect your source code hosting and issue tracker.


I can write scripts to get the same data myself

We've been there too: writing scripts for Jira and GitHub and building Slack bots as a band-aid to the lack of visibility and insights. Many of our customers have tried writing scripts, too, before realizing how difficult it is to maintain and get data you can actually trust.

Our team focus enables the industry's best data quality because teams in Swarmia own their own data. Here are some things we've considered around data quality:

  • Flexible team-specific Jira and GitHub configuration
  • Automated assignment of contributions to the right people and projects
  • Contributor management, and handling comparisons vs. historical data
  • Filtering out noise and outliers in the data

When it comes to data quality, cycle time has a special place in our hearts. There are myriad corner cases to consider. We spent long hours discussing it, we've even named a room in our office the "Cycle Time Lounge" (we also have a bike club with the same name 🚴‍♂️ ). Here are just some points we've covered:

  • If a pull request was merged without approval, what should the review time be?
  • What if an issue was completed, but then moved back to the board?
  • If one person works for multiple teams, how should contributions be assigned?

We've been successful at replacing all of our customers' scripts with one tool. Contact us to see if the workflow you have in mind is covered.


Onboarding to this new tool sounds like a lot of work

We know the pain of bringing new tools in, and we value your time. So we thought of things like access control, contributor management, and activity mapping early on, to make sure it's easy to set up Swarmia, and it takes no time to maintain.

  • We use GitHub for access control, so you don't need to manage access to yet another tool.
  • It takes less than 10 minutes to set up Swarmia. All you have to do is connect your GitHub, Jira, and Slack, and you'll see the first insights immediately.
  • Other team members can be onboarded to Swarmia at any time, and we provide you with materials to share with the team. Our customer success team is here to support you during the process. We're also happy to help introduce Swarmia to your teams.


I don't want to introduce yet another UI to my developers

It's difficult to get teams to adopt new tools, so we want to meet them where they are: in GitHub and Slack. Some teams already use GitHub's own Slack integration, but it's too noisy to be valuable – teams often send those notifications to a separate channel. We have a minimum-noise integration that simply shows when you need to act on something. We aim to reduce context switching and not just add another tool to your workflow.

Most of the developers using Swarmia also use our Slack integration, and only visit our UI occasionally.


All metrics are flawed anyway, why should I care?

Engineering metrics are a complex topic, and it's easy to do more harm than good. Swarmia will not summarize your product development in one number and give recommendations based on magic.

Instead, you're in control of your data. We use the industry's best-researched metrics that include DORA metrics, metrics informed by the SPACE framework, and years of research on engineering productivity. We clarify what's behind each number you see in the tool and show the actual data used in all calculations up until every commit and issue status change. It also makes it easier for us to debug our own data and build the best product for you.

Ready to see Swarmia in action? Join the 1,000+ teams using Swarmia today.