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5 Ways to Improve Developer Experience

Organizations that prioritize developer experience (DX) do it because they know it helps them to produce better software, faster. Happy developers work more effectively together and individually, and tend to stick with their employers, reducing turnover. Organizations that have a reputation for positive DevEx will also have an easier time recruiting new developers as needed.

“Improving business performance through software development comes down to empowering developers, creating the right environment for them to innovate, and removing points of friction,” according to research by McKinsey. But you didn’t need McKinsey to tell you that…right? :)

If you are looking to improve DX in your organization, here are five practical areas to focus on, along with ways Velocity can help.

1. Map developer experience

Before you can do anything to improve DX, you need a clear understanding of what it comprises. Development leaders need to map developer experience throughout the entire workflow, identify bottlenecks and trigger points, and then work to find specific ways to improve each one. This can include surveys and interviews with developers to discover where the friction lies.

It’s not a once-and-done task, either. You’ll need to keep assessing the development workflow on a regular basis so you can check that your changes have a lasting impact, that new issues don’t arise, and that improvements don’t have unexpected consequences.

2. Reduce the time spent on tedious tasks

Time-consuming, tedious tasks make developers resent their work, which lowers morale and drags down DevEx. Fortunately, introducing the right tools can cut the amount of time they have to spend on these activities, free up time for more significant tasks, and improve their overall work experience.

McKinsey reports that adopting the right tools is the factor that has the biggest impact on dev experience, and goes most overlooked by CEOs. “The ability to access relevant tools for each stage of the software life cycle contributes to developer satisfaction and retention rates that are 47% higher for top-quartile companies compared with bottom-quartile performers,” McKinsey analysts write.

Don’t underestimate the contribution played by tools like low code and no code platforms. These allow non-tech employees to resolve simpler problems themselves, thereby freeing up dev time for bigger challenges. They also empower developers to shortcut some tasks and avoid errors creeping in from manual workflows.

In the same vein, tools that automate the workflow are invaluable for DX. For example, Velocity allows developers to create a production-like environment on demand so they don’t have to invest time and effort in creating and maintaining an environment on their local machine. This saves them frustration while gifting them more time to work on the challenges that excite them.

3. Remove bottlenecks in workflows

It’s amazing how often developers have to waste time waiting for approval or assistance from other team members or someone from the operations side. Having dead time before getting started on a new task or project can be frustrating. “A positive developer experience is one in which programmers can easily access the tools or resources they need and apply their expertise without unnecessary constraints,” writes tech editor David Carty.

Many companies are adopting internal developer portals (IDPs), which bring together dashboards, infrastructure, applications, best practices, cloud costs, etc. into a shared knowledge base, enabling devs to self-serve any tool needed to complete their tasks. Likewise, Velocity allows developers to self-serve a development environment on demand, instead of waiting for their DevOps or infrastructure teams to build it.

Cutting the friction around testing and debugging is another hot topic for better DX. Tools like Velocity help devs to shift these processes left, testing and discovering errors before the code reaches staging and production. The earlier errors are identified, the easier it is to resolve them, plus it prevents them from having a negative effect on other aspects of the code.

4. Build a culture of psychological safety

Psychological safety is defined as providing support for employees to take risks and protection for those who do, and it’s a key ingredient for positive DX. In a culture of psychological safety, devs feel they can innovate without the fear of reprimand if or when something goes wrong.

While a culture of psychological safety begins with strong leadership, it also requires robust processes like disaster recovery plans, short feedback loops, and CI/CD pipeline efficiency to reduce the impact of human error. Here too, Velocity can contribute by enabling each developer to spin up and create their own production-like environment at will, so they can try, fail, and fix things before revealing them in production.

5. Enable smooth collaboration

It’s not surprising that developers who collaborate effectively are more productive and enjoy better developer experience than those who work in isolation. Good collaboration helps to reduce silos, improve knowledge-sharing, and foster better team spirit, all of which contribute to a more positive DX.

By using tools like Velocity, developers can work in harmony without treading on each other’s toes. Developers can bring their code together in a Velocity environment to see how it interacts earlier in the process. This allows them to learn from each other and make improvements, instead of writing and testing code in isolation and only uniting toward the end of the workflow.

Better DX is within your grasp

Improving developer experience is one of the most important steps an organization can take to encourage retention, ease recruitment, boost code quality, speed up time to market, and even improve revenue and customer satisfaction.

By taking steps to map DX, decrease bottlenecks and time-consuming tasks, and enhance collaboration and psychological safety within the enterprise, executives can look forward to improved developer velocity and more profitability.

Give Velocity a try in a free lab environment, or contact us to learn more about developer experience and how Velocity can help.