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Today, the business world is more technology-driven than ever before. Organizations in every commercial industry, from manufacturing and retail to finance, are investing heavily in digital capabilities, especially software development. The US software market is currently valued at $303 billion and is expected to grow at a 4.87% CAGR between 2022 and 2027.
Digital or software prowess in the tech-driven world directly correlates with overall business performance. And a company’s software capabilities come down to empowering developers. McKinsey & Company recently coined the term “developer velocity,” which means an organization’s ability to get the most out of its developers with the best possible results.
In their assessment of senior executives from 440 large enterprises, McKinsey assigned each of the surveyed companies a Developer Velocity Index (DVI) score based on three factors: technology, working practices, and organizational enablement. Results showed that companies with high DVI scores outperformed others in the market by up to five times. Higher DVI scores were also closely linked to key business performance indicators: innovation, customer satisfaction, brand perception, and talent management.
This proves that taking care of developers puts your company in a winning position. But what exactly does it take to boost your team’s productivity? Let’s look at four effective ways of inspiring creativity, innovation, and resourcefulness in your team of developers.
Measuring team productivity
What does software/web productivity mean anyway, and how would you even go about measuring it? Software productivity is generally defined as the ratio of the functional value of a software product to the cost of producing it. This definition leaves the question of measuring software productivity open to your own interpretation of “cost” and “functional value.”
It’s difficult to pin down a software productivity measurement system that quantifies outputs from both the team and individual levels. It can also be challenging to measure essential developer traits such as creativity and innovativeness. That said, here are some common metrics that many organizations use to track software/web development productivity:
- Lines of code written
- Hours worked
- Test cases passed
- Average commit size
- Total number of commits
- Function points
- Task-completion predictability
- Number of bugs fixed
- Code review scores
- Velocity points
Team productivity is multi-dimensional. Generally, you can choose to focus on delivery speed (velocity), quality, or cost-efficiency. You can also narrow down on individual developers or rate the team as a whole. It all comes down to your key priorities or what makes sense to your organization or the development project in question.
Reasons for low productivity in developer teams
Before we talk about boosting your team’s output, it’s only fitting to understand why team productivity may plummet in the first place. Learning the reasons behind poor team productivity should point you to the most suitable and effective solutions. A lapse in productivity can stem from any number of reasons affecting individual developers or the team in general.
Here is a list of common causes for low team productivity in technical development roles:
- Monotonous work
- High task complexity
- Time pressure
- Poor communication
- Limited tools and resources
- Work-life imbalance
- Poor team cohesion
- Ineffective talent or project management
- Workplace toxicity
- Inadequate skills
- Conflicting team dynamics
With that in mind, here are four proven ways to boost productivity in your development team.:
1. Define your expectations from the start
Any healthy and fruitful relationship is based on mutual expectations and understanding. Expectations are a powerful yardstick for measuring development progress and success. Your expectations as an employer or client will determine the perceived success or failure of the team. So, ensuring that you both have common expectations puts you on the same path toward success. It also makes it easier to track productivity.
You can group development expectations into three categories: system, project, and team expectations. The first category is all about what you require from the system in development (features, functions, performance, platform, dependencies, etc.). Second, define your expectations for the development project. When do you want it completed, and how much do you expect to pay for it?
Employers usually have very high expectations, and that’s not wrong, provided they’re reasonably realistic. The important thing is to run those expectations by the team to determine their feasibility before any work starts. Meet somewhere in the middle, but don’t compromise your vision for the business or project. After discussing your requirements, objectives, and goals with the team, you can then determine what to expect of the developers.
The point is, never define your team’s expectations by yourself. Otherwise, you’ll be biased toward your own interests, which the team may be unable to deliver. Have a mutual agreement on the expected outcomes, from the deliverables and timeframes to productivity benchmarks and success metrics.
2. Create an optimal working environment
Software/web development is a creative process that requires developers to be in the right state of mind. And this largely comes down to the working environment. But the ideal work environment varies from developer to developer. For instance, some thrive in isolation while others do their best work in collaborative groups.
Since you can’t possibly set up a unique work environment for each developer, try to create a wholesome workspace that at least caters to most of the developers’ needs. In a survey, Stack Overflow asked 65,000 developers what they majorly prioritized in their job. Many of the respondents said they mostly considered the following factors:
- The technologies involved in the job
- The office environment and the company’s culture
- Schedule and work flexibility
- Remote work options
- Opportunities for professional development
- The value or impact of their work output
From this, you can get a rough idea of what a productive work environment for developers should look like. Create the ideal development workspace by focusing on these five areas:
Equip your team with the necessary tools for the job. Get powerful modern hardware and software for designing, coding, and testing new web/software applications. And don’t forget collaboration tools for work synchronization and consolidation, especially in hybrid workplaces.
Keep an open line of communication between yourself and the team. Encourage the developers to share suggestions, ask questions, and spread useful information through the appropriate means. Close communications build strong team cohesion and help keep everyone on the same page.
Allow your developers to choose their work schedules and where to work from, at least to some degree. Such flexibility allows for better work-life balance, which minimizes work-related stress, boredom, and the risk of burnout. Ultimately, work flexibility leads to higher productivity in many different ways.
Minimize workplace distractions to keep the developers focused on their work. Studies show that work interruptions not only steal valuable HR time but also demoralize workers. So, avoid unnecessarily interrupting your on-site or remote developers. You can do this by simply refraining from random emails, calls, and meetings. Instead, schedule brief check-ins without keeping the developers away from their keyboards.
A consolidated work environment allows developers to work as individuals while pooling their outputs as a unit. This ensures that everyone plays a measurable part in the team by delegating roles and responsibilities.
3. Encourage self-accountability
You cannot except to oversee or control what each member on the team does, especially when dealing with remote developers or a hybrid work environment. Besides, micromanaging a team of developers can be tedious, not to mention counterproductive.
Rather than focusing on close supervision, encourage your team to be more self-driven and self-accountable. How can you do this? Here are some key pointers to achieving self-accountability among developers:
- Lead by example and demonstrate accountability on your end. Show the developers that responsibility and accountability are part of your company’s work culture.
- Set clear individual and team commitments.
- Request work progress reports regularly. Use proven accountability frameworks and performance review tools to help with this.
- Give and encourage feedback after every milestone.
- Recognize and celebrate achievements and progress.
- Make it impossible for team members to play the blame game.
4. Populate your team with rich talent
No matter how you measure productivity, you won’t get encouraging results from an under-staffed or under-skilled team. Here’s the big question: is your team capable of meeting your expectation in the first place?
Developers come in all shapes and sizes. Some specialize in front-end design (look and feel, usability, responsiveness, etc.), while others work exclusively on the back-end mechanics (runtimes, dataflow, system architecture, performance, etc.). There’re also full-stack developers who can work cross-functionally on both ends. On top of that, developers have varying qualifications, language preferences and specializations, and expertise.
The trick to assembling a capable team is matching the right talents to their respective roles. In other words, put together a diverse team with all the strengths necessary to tackle the task at hand.
Skill diversity is a crucial factor in any team’s dynamics. A well-balanced team means that responsibilities are shared equally, and each developer can comfortably deliver their quota. It also builds inter-dependencies among team members, binding them closer, fostering collaboration, and instilling the much-needed self-accountability we mentioned earlier.
How can we develop help?
To guarantee development productivity, you must have a strong team right from the get-go. Every other effort to boost productivity will be futile if the team doesn’t match your development needs. But assembling a group of developers with specific and diverse skillsets is often easier said than done.
First, you have to determine the kind of developers needed for the particular project or role. Second, find potential candidates and vet them one at a time. Finally, bring the qualified candidates together and hope that they can work cohesively as a team.
WeDevelop does all this for you, from sourcing and vetting talent to assembling powerful teams of developers. You just have to tell us the positions you want to fill or the software or web application you need to be developed. We’ll then hand-pick developers with skill profiles matching your role or project requirements from our vast pool of over 200 pre-screened engineers, programmers, and designers near-sourced from the LATAM region.
Whether you need to augment your IT team with extra hands and skills, assemble a dedicated team to tackle short-term or long-term projects, or straight out outsource a development project, WeDevelop has got you covered. Contact us via email or call to learn more about how we can help you realize your IT staffing and development goals.