High Developer Effectiveness: key factors

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In this article I would like to analyze how to achieve high developer effectiveness based on our experience as well as recommendations of well-known software development companies and experts like Martin Fowler. 

First of all, what is High Developer Effectiveness? We really liked how Tim Cochran answered this question: “As a developer, it is delivering the maximum value to your customers. It is being able to apply your energy and innovation in the best ways towards the company’s goals. An effective environment makes it easy to put useful, high-quality software into production and to operate it so that the developers do not have to deal with unnecessary complexities, frivolous churn or long delays freeing them to concentrate on value-adding tasks.”

Slowly, productivity is destroyed by small inefficiencies, which have compounding effects. And the feeling of inefficiency spreads throughout the organization beyond just engineering. So, how to actually create an effective environment and High Developer Effectiveness in a software development team?

25 factors of a high developer effectiveness 

It is very important to create a healthy environment in a company as well as in a software development team. Let’s analyze some of the most critical High Developer Effectiveness factors:

1. Collaborative tools play an important role here, for example, using agile project management tools helps developers to focus and to be transparent with other team members about the progress and current result. Also, these tools can be used for standup updates, being more clear about what he or she will work on today.

2. Another critical factor is to create notes about automatically updated development environments with libraries matching development and production, and the CI/CD pipelines are green.

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3. Also, a good recommendation could be to pull down the latest code, make an incremental code change that is quickly validated by deploying to a local environment and run unit tests. 

4. One more factor to take into account is how easy it is to find documentation and get support through a developer portal. 

5. Focus is something that every developer mentions! Focusing on the task for a few hours without any interruptions is what every developer dreams about. 

6. Small breaks make a difference! Getting a coffee, taking a walk, playing some ping pong, chatting may disconnect developers from a bottleneck and can refresh their mind. However, it is important to highlight that it should be done in a specific place in the office or in a specific Slack channel in order not to disturb other developers who are trying to focus. 

7. As for the commiting the code change, which then passes through a number of automated checks before being deployed to production, is a good practice to implement. 

8. Important not to forget about releasing the changes gradually to users in production, while monitoring business and operational metrics.

9. The feeling of happiness helps! And to achieve it, focus on incremental progress in a day. Seeing the results makes developers feel productive and satisfied. And as we know, satisfaction leads to motivation and effectiveness. 

10. Hint: bad idea is to start the day having to deal immediately with a number of alerts for problems in production. 

11. Another recommendation is to pay attention to aggregated logs across systems.

12. As for the meetings, if they are critical, better group them together, rather than have one in the morning, one during the day and one in the afternoon. Having a day broken up with many meetings, many of which are status meetings may cause distraction and lack of focus. 

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13. Don’t ignore the issue of endless blockers and bureaucracy.

14. The common anti-pattern is to look at lines of code, feature output or to put too much focus on trying to spot the underperforming developers. It is better to turn the conversation around to focus on how the organization is providing an effective software development environment. Embraced a DevOps culture, continuous delivery and product thinking. 

15. Focus on key developer feedback loops, making them fast and simple. Measure the length of the feedback loop, the constraints, and the resulting outcome. When new tools and techniques are introduced, these metrics can clearly show the degree to which developer effectiveness is improved. For example these are the feedback loops with high effectiveness ( based on a Spotify case ): 15 seconds for validating a local code change works, 1 day for finding a root cause for defect, 2 hours for validating that component integrates with other components, 4 weeks to become productive in a new team, 30 min to get answer to an internal technical query, 3 days to launch a new service in production, 4 weeks to validate a change was useful to the customer. 

16. Developers should have the ability to improve their day to day lives. Dedication to training and professional growth helps! 

17. Encourage healthy discussions between developers and product managers

18. Provide the ability for developers to innovate; when their teams have clear goals and a clear idea of bottlenecks, developers can be creative in solving problems. 

19. Create efficiency through economies of scale. Apply platform thinking, creating an internal platform specifically focused on improving effectiveness. Invest in engineering teams that build technical capabilities to improve developer effectiveness. 

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20. Set clear engineering goals

21. Encouraging useful peer review

22. Automate control via architecture fitness functions

23. Standardize environments with infrastructure-as-code (IaC) and containers to minimize manual configurations and reduce defects tied to system differences.

24. Automate regression tests so that developers fix bugs during the development process and spend less time investigating and fixing defects found in production.

25. Quantitative metrics should be used in conjunction with qualitative feedback from developers using the internal environments and tools.

I hope you found this article about High Developer Effectiveness useful! If you need help with software development or on increasing your team’s effectiveness, let us know! We are experts in this field


  • Ekaterina Novoseltseva

    Ekaterina Novoseltseva is an experienced CMO and Board Director. Professor in prestigious Business Schools in Barcelona. Teaching about digital business design. Right now Ekaterina is a CMO at Apiumhub - software development hub based in Barcelona and organiser of Global Software Architecture Summit. Ekaterina is proud of having done software projects for companies like Tous, Inditex, Mango, Etnia, Adidas and many others. Ekaterina was taking active part in the Apiumhub office opening in Paseo de Gracia and in helping companies like Bitpanda open their tech hubs in Barcelona.

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  1. Testing Software Company

    As digitization continuous to Progress, our mission will always be the same: making digitization beautiful.

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