Haystack vs. LinearBA LinearB Alternative
Doing More Harm Than Good?
LinearB as a product is based around tracking and ranking individual developers performance. This includes reporting on individual number of Pull Requests completed, work carried over, work hours and work activity.
These practices seem contrary to the evidence on the effectiveness on such management practices. In Project Oxygen, Google evaluated manager performance ratings and manager feedback from Google’s annual employee survey - they found that great managers are excellent coaches, but they do not micromanage.
Google also studied team performance in Project Aristotle evaluating a total of 180 teams (including 115 project teams in engineering) using hundreds of double-blind interviews and quantitate data sources. Google's researchers found that individual performance of team members is not significantly connected with team effectiveness, but psychological safety was essential. We have covered both the Project Oxygen and Project Aristotle research in a recent episode of our Engineering Insights podcast.
At Haystack we firmly stand against the notion that individual level metrics can provide actionable insights and believe that they cause more damage to work culture as they are invasive, stress-inducing and misleading. As such, we only track delivery at a team level delivery. We also provide additional insights to aid managers in preventing risks like burnout.
What makes LinearB unique as a micromanagement tool is that it enables Project Managers to micromanage engineering teams using a combination of version control data (from Git) alongside project management tools (like JIRA).
When this micromanagement is conducted by project managers, instead of engineering managers, we also find it is usually is associated with greater levels of stress and distrust between different departments.
Essentially, these tools lead to Waterfall software development, purporting to be Agile software development, with additional stress and hostility within the workplace.
By delivering small sized user stories iteratively, software can be delivered faster and more reliably. Providing Project Managers a tool to micromanage the delivery of oversized product features does little to achieve this.
Without this; Product Managers cannot learn during the product development process, they struggle to ship Minimum Viable Solutions or be able to get early information from customers. Instead they attempt big-bang projects which are likely to fail due to both technical and market implications.
Bolting on micromanagement tools abreast a Waterfall software delivery process goes contrary to what the Agile and DevOps revolutions have taught us.
We instead encourage teams to focus on shipping small, not just because it will allow you to deliver more reliably and faster, but because of the lessons you learn from your users.
Learn more: Are Project Micromanagement Tools Harmful?
At Haystack Analytics, we only provide software engineering metrics that are proven to help teams - either through our own validation or empirical scientific evaluation.
For example; our North Star metrics include the Four Key Metrics. Rigorous appraisal of these Four Key Metrics (in research led by Dr Nicole Forsgren) has shown that higher performers are 2x more likely to meet their commercial goals (productivity, profitability, market share, number of customers) and their non-commercial goals (quantity of products or services, operating efficiency, customer satisfaction, quality of products or services and achieving organisational or mission goals). Indeed, companies which do well under these DevOps metrics have a 50% higher market cap growth over 3 years. The mechanics of how metrics drive organisational performance is also well understood and has been rationalised by industry leaders like Martin Fowler.
LinearB does not provide such scientific evidence to support the metrics they track.
We have a dedicated support team of experienced engineering leaders available on-demand from our Slack Community. Every Haystack user has a dedicated private slack channel with our team of experts to help you deep dive into your data and teach you how to improve delivery.
LinearB provides basic chat/email support and ”premium support” available only in their enterprise tier.
Haystack is the only tool that doesn’t read, store, or persist source code. We use the GitHub API to pull metadata such as timestamps and commit messages to produce all our insights. We also maintain industry best practices to ensure that all user information is safe.