10 ways to boost developer productivity

If you are leading a developer team, you can relate to this line – ‘No matter what the situation is, developers won’t ever stop being busy.’

There will always be important decisions to make, keeping up with customers’ demands, maintaining the software development process, and whatnot. Indeed, it is the nature of their work. But if this remains for the long run, it can hamper developer productivity. 

In simple terms, when developers are constantly busy with their work, it can lead to burnout and frustration. As a result, this lowers their productivity. The work couldn’t be compromised or reduced, but there are ways to unblock their workflows and enhance the developer experience. 

In this blog, let’s dive further into the ways to increase developer productivity.

What is developer productivity?

Productivity refers to the measure of the efficiency of people, teams, or organizations in converting inputs into valuable outputs. This is done to accomplish more and reach for bigger ambitious goals. 

Developer productivity refers to how productive a developer is in a given time frame. It is a measure of the team’s ability to ship high-quality products to end-users. When it is properly taken care of, it can improve developer experience and performance while fostering a positive work culture. 

Why is it important?

A few of the reasons why developer productivity is important are stated below:

Business outcomes

Efficient developers can ship high-quality code that delivers business value. Positive business outcomes accelerate the development process. This not only increases customer satisfaction but also results in faster product releases and new features.

Improves overall well-being

Developer productivity is not just important for business outcomes. It improves the physical and mental well-being of the developers as well. High productivity among developers leads to reduced stress and helps prevent burnout. Hence, it contributes to their positive mental and physical health. 

Developer satisfaction

Developer productivity allows them to be highly satisfied with their work. This is because they can see the impact of their work and can accomplish more in less time. Besides this, they can focus better, set better goals, and be more effective at their jobs. 

Improves quality of work

Productive developers are more efficient at work. They help them to strike the right balance between speed and quality of work. As a result, it reduces the need for rework and extensive bug fixes. 

Improves creativity and problem-solving ability

Productive developers have more time to focus on creative problem-solving and innovation. They have better analytical and decision-making abilities. Hence, they can introduce new and innovative features and technologies that enhance their products or services. 

What kills developer productivity?

Software developers face more productivity challenges compared to other professionals. If not taken care of, it can negatively affect their performance which further, hinders the business outcome. 

Below are some of the obstacles that kill the productivity of the developers: 

Ineffective meetings

Meetings are an important aspect of aligning developers on the same page. But, when many meetings are conducted per day without any agenda, it can hamper their productivity. These meetings can break the focus mode of developers and reduce the time for actual work. As a result, it can impede developers’ progress and performance. 

Too many manual processes

Lack of automation can hinder the productivity of developers. They spend a lot of time on manual and repetitive tasks which can overwhelm them and increase their stress. This wastes a lot of their time and hence, they aren’t able to focus on core tasks.

Slow code reviews

Code reviews are usually the hurdles in most software companies. This leaves the developers frustrated as PR is either unmerged for too long or they are juggling between new and old work. Hence, this negatively impacts their motivation level and productivity. 

No alignment between tech and business teams

Although tech and business teams have different expertise, they have the same core product vision. When they aren’t on the same page, developers may not be able to fully grasp business objectives and feel disconnected from the work. As a result, developers may feel frustrated and directionless. 

Lack of adequate sleep and free time

When developers don’t get adequate sleep, it prevents their brains from functioning at optimum levels. Lack of proper sleep could be due to overtime, heavy workload, or constant work stress. In these cases, burnout is expected which further decreases their performance and impacts their productivity. 

10 ways to increase developer productivity

Someone rightly said – ‘Where there is a will, there is a way!’ Undoubtedly, this is the case in improving developer productivity too. 

As team leaders, you must take care of your teams’ productivity. Below are the top 10 ways you can implement at your workplace to enhance developer productivity:   

Clearly define the project scope

Inform the development team clearly how to get started on their projects. You can create an outline of specific features, functions, and tasks so that developers are aware of what tools to use, what things to keep in mind, and what shouldn’t be done. 

Vague or ambiguous project requirements can create misunderstandings and confusion among team members. They may not be able to see the bigger picture and are expected to make changes continuously. 

When project requirements are clearly defined, developers can set the scope for better time management and reduce miscommunication and the need for additional meetings. They can create project plans accordingly, set realistic timelines, and allocate resources.

This also motivates the team since they can see the direct impact of their work on the project’s objectives.  

Set realistic deadlines

If you developers are continuously missing deadlines, understand that it is a productivity problem. The deadlines are unrealistic which developers are failing to meet. 

Unrealistic deadlines can cause burnout, poor code quality work, and negligence in PR review. This further leads to technical debt. If it remains for a long run, it can negatively impact business performance. 

Always involve your development team while setting deadlines. When set right, it can help them plan and prioritize their tasks. 

Including your developers gives you an idea of the timeline each task will take. Hence, it allows you to decide the deadline accordingly. Ensure that you give buffer time to them to manage roadblocks and unexpected bugs as well as other priorities. 

Be well aware of your development environment

Ensure that you and your team members are fully informed about the development environment. In other words, they should be familiar with the set of tools, resources, and configurations that they use. It includes IDE, Programming languages and frameworks, operating systems, version control systems, software applications, and so on. 

This allows them to complete tasks faster and more accurately. Further, it helps in faster problem-solving, thinking innovatively, and speeding up development. When developers are well-versed in their tools and resources, they can also collaborate with other developers and mentor their juniors better. 

Ensure that you inform them about your existing tools and resources on their day of joining. It is important to be transparent about these things to allow them to perform their tasks well without any confusion and frustration. 

This not only results in better resource utilization but also allows them to understand their environment in a much more efficient way.

Encourage frequent communication and two-way feedback

Regular communication among team leaders and developers lets them share important information on a priority basis. It allows them to effectively get their work done since they are communicating their progress and blockers while simultaneously moving on with their tasks. 

There are various ways to encourage frequent communication. A few of them are: 

Daily standups:

Daily standups could be inefficient when the agenda is not clear and if turns out to be hour-long meetings. However, when customized according to your team’s size and preference and agenda is well known, it can work wonders.

Slack (or any other communication platform)

Various unified communication platforms such as Slack channels and Microsoft Teams allow teams to communicate with each other. These have chat-first solutions with multiple integration options that make everyone’s work easier and simpler. 

Team lunch:

Another way to share important updates and progress is team lunch. These meetings can be conducted once or twice a month where team members can share the updates, blockers, and achievements they have while working on their project. 

However, don’t overdo it. Make the communication short and engaging. Otherwise, it will take a lot of time from the developers’ schedules which makes them distracted and frustrated. 

While frequent communication is important, nurturing a two-way feedback loop is another vital aspect as well to improving developer productivity. This allows developers to be accountable, improve their skills, and know where they are going wrong. 

Don’t forget to document everything or else they may spend a lot of time figuring it out. As ideas are shared and cooperation is encouraged, it makes developers satisfied with their work. As a result, it increases their productivity. 

Implement agile methodology

Most of the organizations are implementing agile methodology nowadays. The key reason is that it breaks down the project into several phases. This allows the development team to focus on achievable tasks that result in quicker, tangible progress. 

This increases their efficiency and speed and allows them to continuously release and test updates and features. As a result, it allows them to hit the market faster. 

The agile methodology also creates a culture of continuous improvement and learning. Regular feedback loops help identify and address issues early. Hence, reducing the time-consuming revisions. 

It also allows developers to take ownership of their work. This autonomy often leads to higher motivation. Hence, it increases productivity and performance. 

Automate your workflow

Developers usually become overwhelmed when they are continuously working on tedious and repetitive tasks. Such as generating API documentation, creating data or reports, and much more. This hampers team productivity and efficiency. As a result, they aren’t able to focus well on the core activities. 

This is the reason why organizations need to automate their workflow. This allows developers not to work on repetitive tasks, but rather focus on work that requires constant attention. Automated testing also minimizes human errors and accelerates the development cycle. 

Organizations can adopt the CI/CD approach. This helps in continuous monitoring, from integration to delivery and deployment of applications. 

Besides this, there are various tools available in the market such as Selenium, TestSigma, and Katalon. 

Use the right productivity tools

Choose high-quality tools that are best suited for the task and team’s preference. You must first start by choosing the right hardware. Assure that the laptop is right for the task and it supports various software and applications. 

Afterward, choose the developer productivity tools and applications that can be well suited for the projects and tasks. There are various tools in the market such as Typo, Github, and Codacy. This lets them automate the non-core activities, set timelines for the work, and clearly define their project requirements. Hence, it impacts the efficiency and quality of software development. 

Below are certain criteria for choosing the right productivity tools: 

  • Relevance
  • User-friendly interface
  • Customization
  • Cross-platform compatibility 
  • Cost-effective

Encourage frequent breaks

Here, breaks don’t mean 10-15-minute lunch breaks. It means taking short and frequent breaks to relax the mind and regain energy levels. One technique that is usually helpful is the Pomodoro Technique, a time management method. It breaks work into intervals, typically 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.

During these frequent breaks, developers can take a nap, exercise, or take a walk. This will help bring back their productivity level and further, improve their performance. 

Make sure you have a flexible schedule at your workplace. Not every developer can work from 9-5 and they may find it better to balance their work and personal lives with flexible schedules. Besides this, when developers work during their peak hours, it results in higher-quality work and better focus. 

Match developers’ strengths with projects

Developers tend to be more productive when they are doing something that interests them. Notice your team’s strengths and weaknesses. And then assign the work according to their strengths. Task allocation also becomes easier when strengths are matched. 

This lets them be satisfied with their work and contribute positively to their job. They can think creatively and find unique ways to solve problems. Hence, be more efficient about the work. 

It could also be a possibility that developers may be good at specific skills. However, they want to learn something else. In such cases, you can ask your developers directly what they want to do. 

Mentoring and pair programming

To increase developer productivity, knowledge sharing and collaboration are important. This can be through pair programming and collaborating with other developers. As it allows them to work on more complex problems and code together in parallel. 

Besides this, it also results in effective communication as well as accountability for each other’s work. 

Another way is mentoring and training junior and new developers. Through knowledge transfer, they can acquire new skills and learn best practices more efficiently. It also reduces the time spent on trial and error. 

Both mentoring and pair programming can result in developers’ satisfaction and happiness. As a result, increases retention rate. 

Conclusion

Productivity is not a one-day task. It is a journey and hence, needs to be prioritized always. 

There will be many productivity challenges faced by the developers, even when they are doing well in their careers. Team leaders must make it easier for them so that they can contribute positively to business success. 

The above-mentioned ideas may help you to increase their productivity. Feel free to follow or customize as per your needs and preferences.