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The 21st century executive

Software Development Tips: Help teams embrace Productivity Tracking

Productivity in the software development process has a direct impact on business success. Better-performing teams support business operations and ensure sustainable growth, competitiveness, flexibility, and ROI. This is true for every industry but particularly so in tech and software. As with most elements of business management, improving performance depends on informed decision-making and iterative progress. These are near impossible to achieve without the right metrics and insights.  

We’ve talked about the numerous advantages of tracking productivity and performance metrics before. However, we’ve seen time and again how challenging it can be for executives in tech and software to implement solutions to track those metrics. So, what´s holding CTOs and CIOs back? 


Why aren’t more executives tracking productivity? 

Investing in services or tools isn’t always easy. Numerous challenges can stand in the way of enterprising execs aiming to optimize their team outputs. Sometimes, it’s a matter of budgetary restrictions or a matter of scaling–and sometimes, it simply boils down to not wanting to rock the boat. Keeping talented software teams happy can be a delicate balancing act. Upsetting that balance by adding productivity metrics and tools to the mix may not be a comfortable or easy decision to make. While it’s an understandable concern, the alternative could wind up costing you even more in the long term. 

 One popular means of assessing and optimizing productivity is hiring external consultants. External service providers assess, review and provide detailed suggestions for improving productivity. They also offer experienced advice on strategies for rolling out necessary changes. However, consultants can be costly, and their analyses take time to generate, act on, and bear fruit. Another challenge with using consultants is they often need to be embedded in teams. This involves seeing how they work, reviewing team meetings, and sometimes, monitoring their involvement directly. Unfortunately, for software engineers, this can also create an unpleasant feeling of being under surveillance. 

While productivity and software intelligence tools can provide KPIs and automatic recommendations much faster than professional consultancy services, they can also run into the same challenges in terms of acceptance


Getting software teams on board with tracking development 

Securing buy-in from your MVPs can be a daunting task for any software leader. The simple fact is devs drive software production and keeping them happy, comfortable, and content has a direct impact on your bottom line. Understandably, adding a tool that can make them more accountable for performance might not go over well with everyone. The key to getting your devs on board with software intelligence initiatives is to identify the source of their discomfort or anxiety surrounding tracking performance. 

3 common reasons that devs might be resistant to implementing software analysis and monitoring tools are: 

1. Lack of faith in software metrics and KPIs 

While there have been many proposed development KPIs alongside different development methodologies, they haven’t all been perfect. One of the most common objections software professionals have is that metrics and KPIs can often be gamed. Gaming metrics can wind up creating worse practical performance at the expense of better metrics. With the right KPIs and metrics, however, the effort required to game them actually leads to healthier development practices and better outcomes long term. 


2. Fear of monitoring 

It’s should come as little surprise that developers may feel uncomfortable having their work under scrutiny. Few professionals enjoy the feeling of being monitored. In fact, one of the major obstacles that CRM pioneer, Salesforce faced in the early 2000s, was the reticence of Sales professionals to implement metrics in their work. Fast-forward to today and Salesforce is the largest source of customer relationship services on the market and have generated billions of dollars in profit for their clients. Software professionals are now facing a similar challenge–overcoming the reticence to have their work tracked to achieve greater results. 


3. Concerns over job security 

 Software intelligence tools are quite popular in many large enterprises and software departments. However, they are typically used and controlled by developers or technical leads. In short, technical teams can often end up monitoring themselves–and for many, that’s good enough. However, a lot of that data is not passed up the chain to higher leadership simply because it may be too complex to mine, extract, and create accessible reports. There could also be concerns that data on performance or productivity could be used to justify layoffs or reassignments 

Getting your devs on board requires strong communication, collaboration, and trust between management and teams. Making them feel more comfortable with software analytics means sharing why and how their work will be measured and what that data will be used for 


Establishing trust in your teams 

To get your teams on the same page, it pays to work towards establishing trust and a feeling of security. Adding a monitoring tool and creating new layers of oversight can seem threatening to devs. Much of this fear comes from the sense of uncertainty about the future that changes can provoke. Open communication and transparency are, therefore, invaluable for gaining support. One of the best ways to do this is to make the company’s goals for implementing software analytics clear. Then, address how those goals relate to the team’s operation in more detail. 

Your teams need to know that the tools implemented to monitor or track trends in the software development process aren’t meant to make their lives harder. If anything, they are there to make it easier by streamlining tasks and identifying areas for remediation. For example, some of our clients are finding that Foreworth’s platform helps their teams manage technical debt remediation and security vulnerabilities with greater accuracy and efficiency. Other customers have also noted that the easy-to-access scoring metrics we provide have created a spirit of friendly competition in their software teams, pushing their devs to surpass themselves sprint by sprint and month by month.  

At the end of the day, whatever tools, and KPIs you plan to implement should be there to help your team achieve more and support their development as software professionals. When your devs understand this, there’s a good chance they will be more welcoming of the changes that these implementations may bring. 


Building a culture of support 

We recently discussed the importance of Developer Velocity, or the capacity to drive transformative business performance through faster, more efficient software development and higher-quality outcomes. One of the pillars of Developer Velocity is company culture. Strong, supportive, and collaborative cultures are one of the hallmarks of truly progressive organizations. It should come as no surprise that when software teams feel supported, listened to, and secure, they do their best work. Learn more about the DVI and how you can leverage it for better developer productivity and team performance here. 


About the author
Alvaro Marinetto

Working as Foreworth’s, Development Director, Alvaro manages the day-to-day activities of the development team. He helps steer the direction of the company’s new feature development as well as their maintenance efforts.

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