developer productivity

When it comes to developer productivity, enablement matters over metrics

Development organizations are always looking to integrate strategy, design, and engineering, so they can enable global enterprises and tech disruptors to become modern digital businesses. But assisting companies in building organizational resilience to face the future and steer their journey to digital fluency doesn’t come easy. While a lot is being said and done about developer productivity, most organizations only focus on tracking and monitoring a handful of metrics, not realizing the role enablement plays.

Measuring Developer Performance Is Becoming a Hot Trend

Developer performance is a hot topic today and reflects how well teams are performing and how successful the development operations of the company are. Measuring developer productivity can help in many ways:

  • At the organizational level, it can aid in assessing competitiveness, evaluating business performance, and ensuring proper allocation of resources and costs.
  • At the team level, it can help gauge the efficiency of teams while giving managers good insight into the changes they need to make to enhance throughput.
  • At the individual level, it can help in reviewing individual performance and ascertaining the steps they need to take to add more value.

Commonly Used Developer Productivity Metrics

When it comes to tracking and monitoring developer productivity, most organizations commonly resort to measuring a bunch of metrics, such as:

  • Hours worked to determine how much time developers have devoted to software development and testing code 
  • Work in progress to assess how much work the team has finished and the amount of work left to do
  • Sprint velocity to determine the number of user stories or story points completed within a single sprint
  • Sprint success rate to calculate the percentage of items completed in the sprint backlog
  • MTTR and MTTD to ascertain the amount of time developers take to detect and respond to a bug/threat/issue 

Enablement vs Metrics

Seeking to measure developer performance or productivity via a handful of (seemingly) reliable metrics is not enough. In today’s complex world of software development, these metrics have little or no relevance to developer motivation or morale. 

For example, the number of lines of code written by a developer does not reflect anything on the value of the project or determine the success rate of the product. Similarly, the number of code commits doesn’t tell anything about the quality of those commits.

A project completed in time can turn out to be a total failure in the market, offering no potential for revenue generation. Judging from this perspective, it doesn’t matter if all the deadlines were met. So, instead of measuring the number of hours worked, the number of lines written, or the number of bugs fixed, organizations must look at factors that contribute not just to developer morale but also to business growth.

This is where enablement comes into the picture, as it considers developer experience and business output. Here are some factors that drive enablement:

1. Conduct Code Reviews

Code reviews are a great way to enhance the level of developer productivity. Although most teams already have several automated checks to verify code reliability, frequent and collaborative code reviews help foster a learning culture and strengthen relationships between members. Because all bugs and issues are identified well in time, teams spend more time developing critical features and less time fixing bugs – thus improving productivity and performance.

2. Have Hands-On Developers at All Seniority Levels

Having hands-on developers at all seniority levels is also important to enhance developer productivity. From entry-level developers to managers, everyone should know how to code. These individuals can bring different skill sets to the table, clearing project bottlenecks, enabling continuous deliverables, and ensuring the highest quality software at every stage of the development lifecycle. By continuously focusing on code quality, they can bring in much-needed oversight and decision-making capability to identify bugs, code coverage, and duplications, and quickly resolve issues – before they transform into unsolvable problems.

3. Tie Metrics to Business Outcomes

When it comes to measuring developer productivity, not all metrics are ineffective. For instance, deployment frequencycan help teams in tracking how regularly they have been able to release new software or features to production, which eventually leads to increased customer value. Similarly, lead time can help in measuring the time elapsed between development and delivery, allowing teams to measure project planning accuracy.

4. Focus on Building a Scalable Architecture

Focusing on building a scalable architecture from the beginning can act as the cornerstone of effective development. Distributed open platforms and cloud solutions can enable highly skilled architects and engineers to define and design scalable systems. This allows teams to easily scale the product and the business to meet new needs – while lowering costs, ensuring better performance, and delivering better user experiences.

5. Enable Security by Design

Security is an essential aspect of any product architecture. Building products that are secure by design enables teams to comply with the necessary security and governance requirements – and not implement security later in the lifecycle as an afterthought. This empowers them to focus their energy on critical, value-adding aspects of development and ensure user experience and business performance are free from risks.

Conclusion

Implementing an enterprise-wide digital strategy to gain a competitive advantage is on every CXO’s mind today. This has led to the sudden and widespread need to embrace and implement the latest platforms and solutions. But building ‘best-in-class’ platforms that promise maximum returns on minimum IT spending demands a high level of developer productivity.

Measuring lines of code written or bugs fixed doesn’t say anything about the efficiency of the team or the quality of the software developed. If you want to ensure your developers are working at the highest level of productivity, you need to monitor metrics that tie to business outcomes. At the same time, it is important to bring about a paradigm shift in how products are developed, ensuring security, governance, and scalability from the outset. 

The article has been written by Anurag Sinha, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Wissen Technology (Wissen.com)

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