Business Transformation

Trading Productivity for Value: How IT Leaders are Modernizing DevEx

Amid shifting digital landscapes where high-performing and secure online experiences are in the driver’s seat of company growth, most (75%) of technology and business executives agree—their ability to compete is directly correlated to delivering quality code fast. With software as the new foundation of modern organizational growth, development, delivery, and the productivity experience of developers cannot be understated. And money alone is not enough to ascertain the talent needed to keep competition at bay.

To further complicate this paradigm, developers are in short supply and traditional application delivery pipelines are teeming with issues, including manual processes, clunky handoffs, cumbersome checkpoints, long wait times associated with infrastructure complexity, siloed teams, and fragmented toolsets. All of which are commonplace factors working against developer satisfaction, productivity, and code delivery.

We partnered with Forrester Consulting to research software development landscapes and the business value associated with building a strong developer experience (DevEx). Using those insights, we developed a six-point executive checklist to assist technology leaders in building a DevEx that both retains and attracts developer talent.  A synopsis of recommendations and access to the full report follow:

To Get Started, Here are Six Steps to Improving DevEX:

  • Collaborate Across the Discovery Process

Customer and employee experiences are inextricably linked. Leaders must understand the current state of their customers’ experience as well as that of their developers. This includes knowing what their biggest roadblocks and frustrations are, as well as their ideal state. You should know not only what delights and retains your customers, but also what delights and motivates your developers. After all they are the ones building one of your most important corporate assets – your software!   The first step is to speak directly with developers to gain feedback to indentify the gaps in their current experience.

  • Identify Productivity Busters

Identified by three out of five surveyed organizations, developers are most likely to list legacy tools, rising complexity, manual processes, and security-first mandates as productivity foes. Collaborating with developers to design a DevEx that mitigates these challenges based on a common understanding and purpose that aligns IT with business priorities is a must.

  • Collaborate to Create an Ideal DevEx Profile

Development transformations require a proactive, holistic strategy that unifies technology investments, serves the stated needs of teams, and has the support of senior leaders across all lines of business. Alongside development teams, leaders should define a strategy that includes investments needed to realize goals and the timeline for achieving them. Doing so brings teams together, garners buy-in from developers, and boosts the odds of success.

  • Baseline Developer Experience Strategies

Value stream thinking ties an objective with an outcome and uncovers how efficiently a team is able to deliver. Leaders can plot process steps on a value stream map with a focus on the intersection of people and teams within the process and document where platforms help or hinder workflows. This information can be used to assess operational efficiency and track impact of DevEx strategies on production.

  • Technology is a Main Resource for Enabling Productivity

The most important job components for developers tend to be the languages, frameworks, and the technologies they work with. Yet, the most significant roadblocks to reaching DevEx goals are tools. According to our research, the most impactful tools are those tied to automation, open source, and application templates1. Work to ensure developer tools enhance rather than detract from their experience.

  • Enable Continuous and Incremental Improvement

Historically, development organizations have measured software delivery teams on productivity metrics—such as lines of code or function points completed. But not all lines of code are equal. Plenty of code can be created within a software project that lends little business value. The modern approach to DevEx trades productivity for value and measures on impact to business outcomes in a continuous fashion that ensures the developer experience can reach a level of maturity that supports growth.

Build metrics into your strategy to baseline the current state and measure improvements or prioritize areas for optimization over time. Industry standard metrics frameworks like DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA) can provide a common understanding of areas productivity can impact business outcomes. Lastly, transformation is best managed incrementally – start your DevX journey with an initial team and application use case for DevEx, demonstrate success, and then expand to additional development teams.

To gain more insights into the data behind these recommendations and suggestions for building a strategic, maturity focused DevEx plan, read the full report.

An Executive’s Checklist To Fostering A Strong Developer Experience For Business Growth:

1. Forrester Research, Inc. “Digital Transformation Requires Development Transformation. December 2020.