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How DealerSocket uses Flow to effectively advocate for engineering at the executive level.

The Challenge

DealerSocket is an integrated CRM platform that helps automotive dealers manage their day-to-day operations. Founded in 2001, the company has grown to over 1,000 people and serves more than 3,000 auto dealers in US, Canada, and Australia.

With four primary product lines that help automotive dealerships handle everything from sales and marketing to customer relationships, DealerSocket supports a high volume of information and activity. The Engineering team carries a major responsibility in ensuring the organization’s long-term growth and success by focusing on quality, consistency, and uptime for all of DealerSocket’s products.

“We have four tribes of 30 to 80 engineers working on each product line at any given time. We do Agile with two-week sprints, and a lot of our projects have tight timelines. We need to provide a workplace where engineers aren’t constantly dealing with distractions - and are able to do their best work,” says Rob Teegarden, DealerSocket’s VP of Engineering.

Rob and his team felt the need to measure the development process sprint over sprint, so that they could coach teams toward healthier work patterns and effectively advocate for Engineering at the executive level. But finding tooling to provide this level of visibility and insight proved difficult.

“Engineering in the past has been a black box. We can look at the software that was delivered, but it's hard to say whether we're doing as well as we could be. Pluralsight Flow pulls all that information into one centralized view.”

Rob Teegarden, VP of Engineering at DealerSocket


The Solution

When Rob discovered Pluralsight Flow, he was immediately intrigued.

“I can't tell you how many times I've worked with Directors and Engineering Managers to try and figure out the best way to measure the productivity of an engineering organization. Flow finally helps us understand and measure the development process.”

Prior to using Flow, DealerSocket’s Engineering organization was able to gather some data points, such as the number of defects in the code or story points, out of the agile ticketing system they were using. But this information only provided insight into a small and insignificant part of an engineer’s work. DealerSocket’s engineering leaders were left looking for a way to get information and actionable insights about the health and productivity of each team.

It wasn’t long after DealerSocket started their POC with Flow that Rob realized the platform was already providing an unprecedented level of visibility and insight into the Engineering organization.

“We’re now able to define and track a core set of metrics for Engineering. This is a very common practice with other departments in the organization - for Sales, Marketing, Customer Success, and Finance. With Flow, we now have the ability to show how hard Engineering is working at the executive level.”

The key benefits of Pluralsight Flow for Dealer Socket

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Increase in coding days per week

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Increase in commits per day

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Increase in impact to codebase

“Flow helps engineers and engineering managers have more productive conversations.”

Rob Teegarden, VP of Engineering at DealerSocket

Results and next steps

Since rolling out Flow to the entire engineering organization, DealerSocket’s Engineering organization has realized three major benefits.

01 DealerSocket has experienced healthier and more productive communication and collaboration between engineers in their teams - and between individual contributors and managers. Rob says Flow has provided a shared language in 1:1s when discussing work patterns, roadblocks, and training. It’s now much easier for managers to have insight into the progress of projects and unblock any issues before they cause delays. Having metrics also makes it easier for engineers to know how they are doing, and to make a convincing case for different processes, tooling, or prioritization.

02 The Engineering organization also now has visibility into the value that’s shipped to customers. Rob says that ultimately, the purpose of using Flow is to support DealerSocket’s goal of providing the highest level of quality to its customers - and to ship value as frequently as possible. Not long after DealerSocket started using Flow, Rob realized that some teams were in the habit of saving up their work until the day before the end of the sprint, where they would commit all of it at once. This flurry of activity made the code review process both stressful and less effective, where people would scramble at the last-minute to review all of the work and provide any feedback. DealerSocket’s engineering leaders have used Flow to coach teams on more sustainable work patterns, which has resulted in a more consistent and less stressful release cycle. “Without metrics, we can’t really know how we’re doing or whether we’re working at our optimal performance. Are we doing as well as we could be? Could we be improving? Flow makes all of that clear, and we’ve been able to share this with our executive leadership team in a way that everyone understands,” Rob says.

03 The executive team at DealerSocket now has metrics and performance data for the engineering team. In the past, Rob says, engineering has traditionally been thought of as a black box from an executive-level, which makes it difficult to understand the department’s performance - and even more difficult to advocate for additional resources. Rob says that having this level of visibility has improved understanding and communication about the Engineering organization. “We love the engineering metrics and visibility Flow has been able to provide us,” Rob says.

“Without Pluralsight Flow metrics it would be like going back to the stone age.”

Rob Teegarden, VP of Engineering at DealerSocket

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