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What Makes a Successful Engineering Team?

What makes an engineering team successful?

Put simply. Delivery.

The best teams deliver. The worst teams don't.

The best teams take calculated efforts to improve delivery while the worst are content maintaining the status quo.

The worst teams hide behind technical debt, execs that 'don't understand', or fairy tales like 'our product is unique' and 'our teams work differently'.

But the reality is these are just excuses (with very few exceptions).

Why does delivery matter?

1) Delivery affects the entire business.

Studies show engineering success is highly correlated company success across profitability, market share, and customer satisfaction. This is further backed by Marc Andreessen who states:

"Cycle Time (delivery speed) compression determines winners & losers in tech".

Which makes sense because better delivery brings more value to customers, which in turn brings more revenue. Faster delivery means faster experimentation, value to customers, and gets you faster feedback so you don't waste time building the wrong thing.

Of course there are things like quality, stability, etc but it all equates back to delivery.

Deploying quality code, quickly.

2) Developers like to deliver.

Developers who deploy more tend to be happier, more productive.

Which makes sense when you think about a team who struggles with tech debt, complex workloads, unplanned tickets, context switching.

They aren't able to deliver.

And that sucks.

Meanwhile, the team who focuses on delivery invests in removing bottlenecks. Getting their team back to doing what they love - deploying value to customers.

3) It's a fundamental outcome for success.

If you're not focused on delivering, then what are you focused on?

Now you may say 'I don't care about delivery', which fine. But that's like a company saying 'we don't care about revenue'. Sure, you can get away with it but you'll end up in a really bad spot if you don't know your fundamentals.

At the end of the day, if you focus on delivery then everything else (tech debt, process changes, resourcing) will fall right into place.

How well does your team deliver?

Sign up for Haystack and see how your delivery stacks up. Immediately see your deployment frequency, cycle time, and key bottlenecks holding your team back.

We've helped hundreds of teams improve delivery speed by 40% and would love to help you do the same.


Haystack helps engineering leaders identify burnout and team health patterns. Instead of guessing if you're improving, or constantly bothering your team for updates, simply use Haystack to get alerts in your inbox every morning. Plus a dashboard to track improvements over time.

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