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Tech Lead Responsibilities & Essential Metrics to Measure Performance

February 8th, 2022
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People often mix Tech leads and Engineering Managers because of the brief overlap of the two positions. Even though both roles involve organizational skills, they focus on two distinct areas of responsibility.

Meanwhile, the Engineering Manager is responsible for the organization’s human side: career planning, hiring, team strengths and weaknesses, and productivity. The tech lead’s responsibilities focus on development and system improvements like tech excellence and innovation, development process, code reviews, and feedback.

The tech lead is essential in bridging the gap between the development team and other stakeholders, driving technical excellence while enabling seamless communication and execution in software development projects.

At Waydev, we understand that the two positions share some responsibilities like measuring and reporting the effectiveness of the development process, analyzing team member performance, or even shuffling your sleeves and getting some coding done from time to time. That’s why our platform enables both to accelerate velocity and align with business priorities specific to each role while encouraging a collaborative work environment.

Assessing performance is crucial for project management in computer engineering, and that’s why the platform we created focuses on helping managers see in real-time what their team is working on, what roadblocks they are experiencing, and where they are making progress. Moreover, our solutions give Techleads a comprehensive overview of commit, PR,ticket, and CI/CD activities to analyze projects and see what can be done better and more efficiently. 

In this article, we will clearly define what a tech lead role does nowadays, what the position’s responsibilities are, and what they can do to improve their strategies and bring added value to the bottom line. Taking our suggestions into account will show you how to become a better technical lead. You can also check out our list of the 10 best engineering management books for more insight into this subject.

What is a Tech Lead, and how do they fit in development team structures nowadays? 

Many agree that Technical Leaders coordinate the tech departments fostering the collaboration of members to benefit organizations. 

tech lead responsibilities
tech lead responsibilities

On the basis, Tech leads are senior software engineers who watch over the quality of the software development team’s work and ensure the success of the delivered solutions. The tech lead senior software engineer job description requires professionals who understand software development process and collaborate closely with the DevOps and the Project Manager.

The technical lead responsibilities imply managing the development team, setting the technical approach, deciding on the programming languages, creating frameworks, optimizing software delivery performance, and adopting the right tools to increase team productivity. On top of the technical skills layer, a Tech lead focused on development must also demonstrate exemplary leadership and collaboration skills to create a better work environment. If required, the good tech lead can step up and act as an Engineering Manager and vice versa.

The position could be the first step from software developer to Engineering Manager for those interested in management. The role is a bit of a hybrid, as you can still do the computer engineering work: coding, debugging, and other fun stuff while getting the chance to do some team management for a small team of engineers (usually 2 or 3 people). As a Tech lead, your role would define the technical vision and deploy it together with the rest of the engineering team. 

The tech leader’s responsibilities and job description might sound different from one company to another, but some things remain constant. The Tech lead role includes responsibilities such as business development, planning, designing, leading, and implementing technical solutions and improvements. 

Here are the main aspects that are part of any tech lead role job description:

Setting up frameworks of standards and procedures. 

When it comes to tech lead responsibilities, it all starts with understanding the project’s time frame, team, resources, level of complexity, and risk. Considering all these and previous project experiences and results, the good tech lead roles and responsibilities define and explain best practices and set up frameworks of standards and procedures that are presented to the project teams and implemented.

Waydev’s Project Timeline gives leads a clear view of how the volume of work and the team’s focus evolve, helping them define the technical vision and roles and responsibilities of a tech lead. This view is achieved by visualizing trends during sprints or over the week, month, and other custom time frames. 

With a clear plan and structure, technical leaders can allocate time to the tasks where their expertise makes a difference.

Project Timeline provides a view of how work focus and volume modify over time.

Setting the project’s technical direction.

Tech leads have a significant role in determining technical success. Another tech leader responsibility includes setting technical aspects for each project, like the programming languages used and the tools required for project completion. 

A good tech lead participates in building solutions for performance optimization. They collaborate with infrastructure professionals to understand network and hardware changes and, thus, adapt their strategies. They also work with other tech leaders to ensure that the systems they build fit in the company’s ecosystem and be supported in the future. 

Conducting detailed assessments to make the right decisions 

During development processes, situations often arise, creating blockages. Tech Leads need to facilitate the quick, efficient resolution of such cases by guiding the team and bringing developers back on track. With Waydev’s data-driven engineering management solution, Technical lead responsibilities can correctly assess what is happening without manual input from engineers.

Since they know precisely what the team is doing, team leads play an essential part in prioritizing activities. They are the ones who decide what engineering metrics matter, like the technical debts developers focus on, what requires refactoring, and whether the team may implement new features. 

Historical breakdown of issues resolved vs issues defined on Waydev's Dashboard
  Waydev’s Dashboard showing  historical breakdown of issues resolved vs issues defined.

Team building

Tech leaders build teams both literally and figuratively by understanding their strengths and weaknesses. They are in charge of identifying the technical professionals that match the company ecosystem in terms of personalities and expertise, attributing roles and training them. 

Once team members know what to do, it is time for tech leads to focus on delivering value. Each team needs a technical vision to which all members aspire. Moreover, fostering good relationships between members and communications are also key pillars of good team building. 

Successful team leads dedicate time to their team, organize virtual and physical relaxed and solution-oriented meetings, and appreciate members’ inputs and involvement, encouraging a collaborative work environment.

​Motivating the team

Empowered teams are motivated teams. A good Techlead acknowledges hard work, discipline, and talent and fosters freedom and creative thinking culture and has clear technical leadership skills. These professionals welcome ideas and treat each proposal respectfully, explaining the PROs and CONs of making a particular choice. 

Team leads not only make decisions but also communicate them to those involved. 

Tracking progress

Tech leaders should continuously track the progress of their team’s projects and all tasks related to them. This way, it may identify and mitigate risks, increase members’ productivity levels and ensure that they may, at all times, keep business structures and Project Managers updated on the work status. 

Cycle time historical breakdown dashboard.
The historical breakdown is designed to highlight potential bottlenecks during coding, pickup for review, implementing changes, or deployment.

Compiling reports and working with other Tech Lead and Engineering Managers

Tech leads are responsible for analyzing data and generating detailed reports which focus on relevant development metrics and KPIs, focusing on the accomplished, planned, and blocked tasks. 

Roles and Responsibilities of Tech Lead: Software Delivery, Code Reviews and Technical Capacity Planning

For software development, tech leaders have a clear objective: to optimize software delivery performance by defining and measuring KPIs to identify improvement opportunities. 

While all tech leads agree that monitoring metrics is crucial, many have difficulty deciding what to keep track of and how to receive relevant results. 

Waydev connects to your engineering toolstack and aggregates data in real-time. Then we create more than 60 metrics that look into PR Activity, Code Activity, CI/CD Activity, and Calendar Activity.

Valuable insights into these activities enable you to move from a feeling-driven to a data-driven leadership approach and analyze metrics that matter.

CI/CD Activity Metrics Monitoring

DORA, which stands for DevOps Research and Assessment, has grown into an industry standard for efficient software delivery and monitoring improvement.

Waydev’s DORA metrics dashboard - aggregated from your CI/CD tools.
              Waydev’s DORA metrics dashboard – aggregated from your CI/CD tools.  

The methodology helps Techleads assess software delivery throughput (velocity) and code stability (quality) by measuring four key metrics:

Velocity and quality are not the only KPIs that a Tech Lead must track. Providing a clear architectural and design direction, controlling technical debt, and ensuring code review effectiveness are also essential points. 

PR Activity Metrics Monitoring

Lead Time: The time between the developer’s first PR and when it’s merged or closed. Lead Time can be tracked for each repository or all of them together.

Waydev’s PR Stats dashboard
With Waydev’s PR Stats, you have access to all the metrics that enable you to identify bottlenecks, long-running or unreviewed pull-requests.

As a Techlead, it is your responsibility to assess PR Lead Time over time, so that you may identify trends and behaviors, start investigations and act before things escalate. 

Review Collaboration: These metrics show collaboration statistics between PR submitters and reviewers. Tech lead responsibilities will get a clear view of responsiveness, comments addressed, receptiveness and unreviewed PRs.

Code Activity Metrics Monitoring

New work. Analyzing this performance metric, Tech Leaders get to know exactly how much new code was written by each software development team member.

Waydev’s Daily Update report showing New Work, Churn and Refactoring
Waydev’s Daily Update report showing New Work, Churn and Refactoring

Churn is also a performance metric Techleads need to track to see how efficient their team’s work is. Code churn happens when a developer re-writes their code within three weeks of being committed.

Legacy Refactoring. By analyzing this metric, a Techlead can picture how well their team members collaborate. The metric measures the amount of code that has been re-written without changing or adding to the software’s external behavior and functionality.

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A Tech Lead’s data-driven Agile engineering management approach

In Agile environments, Tech leaders’ responsibilities focus on delegating authority and fostering self-organization among team members to create added value for the project. They also solve roadblocks and issues when the team can’t see a way out. 

Moreover, a good Tech Leader will act as a buffer zone between stakeholders and team members, enabling the former to focus on their actual deliverables. 

Technical lead jobs are not easy, but with Waydev on your tool belt, you can implement data-driven Agile methodology seamlessly. Get real-time insights on how teams work together and how individual members perform, what they are doing, where they are stuck. Best of all: This is all done automatically, giving team members the freedom to focus on their work.

How Do You Become a Tech Leader in Software Engineering?

The roles and responsibilities of a tech lead provide software engineers who desire greater tech lead responsibilities a chance to shape the direction of projects by offering tips, mentorship, and management to a team of engineers through driving technical decisions, establishing coding, reviewing code, and securing software quality. The following steps can be your path to becoming a tech lead:

Develop Strong Technical Skills

To become a tech leader, focus on developing in-depth technical expertise by constantly learning, staying current on the latest technologies, and learning core programming languages and frameworks. Also, widen your technical knowledge by working on diverse projects using different technologies across various domains.

Build Leadership & Communication Skills

Tech leaders must share complex technical concepts with both technical and non-technical stakeholders. Develop your communication skills, and learn to mentor and lead team members effectively. Actively seek options to present your work, conduct knowledge-sharing sessions, and instruct junior developers.

Learn Architectural and Design Principles

Understanding software architecture, design patterns, and best techniques for building scalable, maintainable, and secure procedures will enable you, as a tech lead, to make sound technical decisions that drive the direction of projects.

Collaborate and Share Knowledge

Contribute to your team’s success by cooperating with other developers, sharing knowledge, and being open to learning from others. Take on additional responsibilities when relevant, such as leading small projects, mentoring interns, or driving improvements to processes or codebases.

Understand Business Priorities

Gain an overall perspective by learning about the business goals and priorities driving software development. This will help you make technical decisions that align with the company’s objectives.

Build Relationships

Develop strong working relationships with product managers, designers, and business leaders through consistently delivering high-quality work that earns their trust in your ability to influence others positively.

The core ideas cover developing deep technical expertise, widening knowledge, understanding software architecture, contributing to your team, building relationships with stakeholders, and strengthening leadership abilities to evolve a tech lead.

If you want to test how Waydev’s solutions help Tech Leaders fulfill their responsibilities, get in touch with us for a demo.


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