Customer Story

How Pleo’s platform engineering group empowers teams to ship customer value faster

Pleo, one of the fastest growing SaaS/fintech companies in Europe, partnered with Swarmia to empower their engineering teams with visibility, consistency, and healthy engineering insights.

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In six months, we learned that while developing these solutions in-house is possible, it’s also extremely time-consuming. Swarmia gives us a shortcut into the visibility our teams need to improve their workflows.
Martin Jagusch
Product Manager, Platform at Pleo

Martin Jagusch leads product management for the Developer Experience team at Pleo. The team is part of a platform domain that is responsible for building an internal developer platform that enables nearly 200 software engineers in the Pleo engineering organization to ship customer value quickly and reliably.

The platform domain’s main goal is to help all engineering teams at Pleo work more efficiently. One of the ways we do that is by providing visibility into the areas of the teams’ workflow that are running particularly well and the areas we can improve on.
Martin Jagusch
Product Manager

Improving engineering effectiveness on a global scale is never an easy feat. At Pleo, it was made even more challenging by the company’s fast growth. The engineering organization alone had doubled in size in just a year, making it more important than ever to not only maintain but also improve the productivity of each team.

While quickly growing our engineering headcount has been great, it has also created a few challenges.
Martin Jagusch
Product Manager

Chief among those challenges was a lack of consistency between how the teams approached measuring and improving their ways of working. Over time, it became clear that the engineering organization would benefit from some standardization. This is when Martin and his team started looking for solutions to streamline continuous improvement across the organization.

As the business matures and our engineering teams become more specialized, we’re looking into what we can standardize — and metrics is one of those examples.
Martin Jagusch
Product Manager

Clever shortcuts, consistent measurement practices, and higher-quality conversations

Before adopting Swarmia, Pleo’s platform group spent six months on building the foundations for an in-house solution that would give teams more visibility into key engineering metrics, including DORA.

Our first objective was to figure out how to collect this data, where to store it, and what the metrics actually mean.
Martin Jagusch
Product Manager

While the work was valuable in that it spurred some important conversations around metric definitions, standard practices, and tooling, Martin quickly realized that the group’s time was better spent elsewhere.

In six months, we learned that while developing these solutions in-house is possible, it’s also extremely time-consuming. Swarmia gives us a shortcut into the visibility our teams need to improve their workflows.
Martin Jagusch
Product Manager

With Swarmia, the Pleo platform domain was quickly able to agree on the definitions of different metrics and find a set of measures that they’d like to track across the organization. Swarmia has brought much-needed consistency to the way engineering work is visualized and measured. The platform domain uses the insights in Swarmia to spot outliers and validate the impact of the internal platform work.

At the platform level, we use Swarmia to spot two kinds of outliers: if a team’s cycle time is worse than we’d expect, we can start a conversation to understand why that is. On the other hand, if another team’s metrics are trending in a positive direction, we try to understand if there are some learnings we can apply to other teams.
Martin Jagusch
Product Manager

One of the main ways Pleo’s engineering managers and teams interact with Swarmia are the working agreements and two-way Slack notifications that allow teams and individuals to set team-wide targets and receive relevant, real-time nudges.

Our engineers use the Swarmia Slack integration quite a bit. I keep both hearing and seeing that it has really helped bring down our review times.
Martin Jagusch
Product Manager

The platform domain at Pleo has also been able to use the cross-team insights from Swarmia to dig into process bottlenecks that were slowing down the teams. Martin particularly appreciates the way Swarmia acts as a conversation starter in the organization.

Anecdotally, I knew that our teams were reasonably fast when it came to reviewing their own code, but reviews that required working across different domains took much longer. With Swarmia, we’ve been able to validate those hunches and address their root causes.
Martin Jagusch
Product Manager

96% Swarmia adoption in 3 months, impressive productivity improvements, and exciting new product areas

After a year of using Swarmia, Martin is positively surprised about the results they’ve seen across the Pleo engineering organization. In just three months, 96% of the engineering organization had started using Swarmia and were getting value out of the product.

Consequently, Pleo’s productivity metrics are also trending in the right direction. Most notably, in their first year of using Swarmia, the engineering organization was able to cut its average cycle time by 28% and time to first review by 63%.

Since then, the teams have further managed to reduce their average cycle time to 2.5 days. Yet, more than the absolute numbers, Martin and his colleagues in the platform domain are interested in seeing the long-term trend in key productivity metrics.

I’m less interested in targets and fixed numbers and more interested in trends. For example, seeing how a certain trend is developing is a great discussion point. Rather than basing conversations on a gut feeling, I can go up to the team say, ‘Your number of incidents is going up, why is that?’
Martin Jagusch
Product Manager

Recently, Pleo started using Swarmia’s integration with Okta Single Sign-On, allowing people from outside the engineering organization to also access the insights in Swarmia.

At a time when everyone has budget constraints, the Okta integration has been huge for us. It allows our domain leads and product managers to access Swarmia without us having to pay for individual GitHub licenses for all of them.
Martin Jagusch
Product Manager

This added visibility has already positively impacted the dynamic between teams and their domain leads. The domain leads can now independently look at the data in Swarmia and bring relevant questions to engineering managers.

Having metrics is a great starting point, but you also need to identify the people who can keep the teams accountable. For us, it’s been the domain leads who can now have much more open conversations with the engineering managers and support them in keeping the teams accountable.
Martin Jagusch
Product Manager

Looking forward, Martin is particularly excited about two product areas on Swarmia’s roadmap: the data cloud and developer surveys. The data cloud will give Pleo’s executive leadership access to relevant product development metrics in dashboards external to Swarmia, making it easier to communicate the business impact of engineering.

Swarmia’s developer surveys, on the other hand, will make it possible to automatically correlate developer sentiment with the more quantitative metrics in Swarmia. While Pleo has a long history of running engineering surveys with a separate tool, they’re looking forward to the ability to combine the two data sources to get a more holistic view of the double-sided coin that is developer experience and productivity.

In addition to auto-generated numbers, we’re also interested in self-reported data because it helps us measure how successful the changes we’ve made have been in the eyes of our engineers. While our current solution has been working okay, there’s always the question of how these metrics correlate, and Swarmia will give us an answer to that.
Martin Jagusch
Product Manager

Overall, Martin and the Pleo engineering organization have been happy with Swarmia and the responsiveness of both the customer success and the product teams. For them, Swarmia acts as a conversation starter that sparks valuable discussions in the organization.

Swarmia allows us to quickly identify who we should be talking to in order to improve developer productivity and developer experience. It’s the starting point to many of the important discussions we have in the engineering and product teams.
Martin Jagusch
Product Manager

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