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What is developer productivity

Developer productivity, in general, refers to how productive a developer is during a specific time or based on any criteria. An organization would design objectives or metrics to track and set goals to attain or set a baseline of what is acceptable to be able to gauge developer productivity.

But evaluating developer productivity upon only specific metrics is hazardous. According to Nicole Forsgren in an interview for InfoQ, one of the researchers that created the SPACE framework (we’ll talk about it more later on):

Measuring developer outputs can be detrimental because there are not enough data points to understand if the unproductiveness was caused by the developer himself, or by his surroundings/company. So what are the best methods to measure developer productivity?

How to measure developer productivity?

Out there, there are two widespread methods to measure developer productivity: the SPACE and OKR frameworks.

What is the SPACE framework?

For most developers, being in a state of hyper-productivity feels like being in a “flow”. The SPACE framework tries to define several data points to quickly gauge developer productivity but also the surroundings of the developer. Is the organization structured in a way that enables productivity among the engineers? According to the SPACE research paper,

They propose several distinct measures for each of them that apply at several levels, including individual, team or group, and system. SPACE, interestingly, does not recommend employing all of the measurements at once, but rather a smaller collection of metrics that cover all three levels and represent different production dimensions.

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Statisfaction and well-being among developers

Developer satisfaction refers to how satisfied they are with their work, team, tools, or culture; well-being refers to how happy and healthy they are, as well as how their work affects their health and happiness. Understanding and possibly even predicting productivity benefits from measuring satisfaction and well-being. 15 For example, because productivity and contentment are linked, it’s feasible that satisfaction can operate as a leading indicator of productivity; a drop in satisfaction and engagement could foreshadow impending burnout and lower output.

Three main topics for satisfaction and well-being:

  • Employee satisfaction. Are employees satisfied? Would they recommend their companies to others?
  • Developer efficacy. Do employees have the resources and tools their need to complete any tasks?
  • Burnout. Are they feeling exhausted by excessive workplace stress?

(Software developer) Performance

It’s difficult to measure software developer performance since linking individual contributions to product outcomes isn’t natural.

  • It’s possible that a developer who writes a lot of code isn’t writing high-quality code.
  • Customer value may not be delivered by high-quality code.
  • Customers may not always respond positively to features that delight them.

Activity

If measured appropriately, developer activity can provide useful but restricted information about developer productivity, engineering systems, and team efficiency. Developers’ activity is difficult to assess or quantify due to the varied and different activities they do. In truth, measuring and quantifying all aspects of developer activity across engineering systems and environments is nearly impossible.

Communication and collaboration

High transparency and awareness of team member activities and task priorities are essential for effective teams that successfully contribute to and integrate each other’s work. Furthermore, the availability and discoverability of documentation required for efficient alignment and integration of work are influenced by how information flows within and among teams. Teams with a diverse and inclusive membership perform better. More productive teams focus on the relevant challenges, are more likely to succeed in generating new ideas, and will select the best solution from a variety of options.

Efficiency and flow

Finally, efficiency and flow refer to the ability to finish or progress work with minimal interruptions or delays, whether individually or as part of a system. This can include how well operations are coordinated inside and across teams, as well as if progress is being accomplished consistently.

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