Productivity in software development has profound and far-reaching effects on organizational performance. For businesses in tech and software, improving productivity depends on having the right insights to make key decisions where they can have the greatest impact. From the development team to the executive level, it’s hard to make confident choices to improve organizational efficiency without supporting data. This is especially true when it comes to securing budget approval to improve critical areas of software development, or for expanding the capacity to support existing software products, and pursue new projects.
While DORA metrics are currently popular for measuring productivity in DevOps based development teams, they can fall short in terms of diagnostic power. With more detailed metrics for developer and team productivity, pinpointing areas for improvement or remediation becomes easier leading to more efficient development efforts, reduced waste, and healthier ROI.
What are the benefits of tracking productivity in software development?
As more businesses recognize the importance of deep knowledge in their development processes, interest in measuring productivity has also grown. Key areas where development efforts are seeing increased value from software intelligence tools include:
1. Benchmarking performance for better forecasting
Better insights into the development process help managers and team leaders to understand and more accurately estimate the effort necessary for teams to produce their best work. Forecasting and estimating the effort of tasks is an essential step in any development project, however, up to 66% of software projects suffer from cost and effort overruns.
This often stems from a mismatch between the scope of project tasks and development teams’ actual capacity for work. By measuring your productivity over time, it’s possible to make more informed estimates and thus set more realistic deadlines and budgets. In the long term, this supports developer satisfaction, improves the work environment, helps to mitigate technical debt build-up, and reduces the need for “crunch time”.
2. Improved Talent Retention
Talent attraction and retention are two of the biggest challenges facing CIOs and CTOs at the moment. Combatting talent churn is a top priority in every industry, especially in software and tech where the spikes in employee resignations have left many companies scrambling to find new talent. According to Forbes’ technology experts, major reasons developers churn include:
- Finding roadblocks hindering productivity
- Feeling stuck doing minor upgrades and maintenance work
- Not feeling recognized or appreciated
While it’s true that most people don’t like being monitored at work, we’ve found that tracking productivity in development can actually help teams overcome these challenges.
For example, with the right metrics, you can identify negative trends in your development, and work towards removing those blockers to improve productivity and developer satisfaction. New feature development being supplanted by maintenance work is a key symptom of technical debt, which is both a cause and effect of low productivity. To recognize your developers’ efforts and their contributions, you need to track their performance over time. This transparency leads to better management, a more open environment, improved employee engagement, and greater job satisfaction.
3. Strategic planning for development
Tracking software intelligence metrics helps software development managers to identify, prioritize, and communicate issues that could hamstring productivity. This empowers decision-makers to plan and prioritize software development efforts to remediate weaknesses or inefficiencies. This, in turn, allows for more informed and conscious management of software investments.
Start tracking productivity ASAP
Taking on new projects is always a challenge, especially when managing software investments. Investing in a long-term strategy like tracking productivity in your development is no exception. With that said, no matter what stage of growth your organization is at, measuring productivity is a must. It might seem like a complex task, but with the wide range of software intelligence tools on the market today, it doesn’t have to be. The only challenge is finding the one that works best for your needs.
The benefits of tracking productivity generally outweigh the risks for most forward-thinking software leaders. With the right metrics on hand, you gain greater transparency, explainability, and communicability. This supports better organizational planning and healthier decision-making which both lead to clearer strategies and better returns on software investments. You can learn more about how to start tracking software KPIs here.