Why is developer productivity so important?

Why is developer productivity so important?

What is Developer Productivity?

For today’s development teams, boosting developer productivity represents a vital endeavor. Simply put, developer productivity is about the scale of output an individual or team delivers. The more new features and capabilities a team can ultimately deliver to end users, the better. To maximize developer productivity, teams need to strike the right balance of speed and quality. 

Why Maximizing Developer Productivity is More Critical Than Ever

These days, an organization’s business prospects are increasingly contingent upon its software development prowess. This is true for pretty much any organization in any industry. 

As business environments continue to be disrupted, the ability to adapt quickly is essential, whether to respond to evolving customer demands, new business opportunities, competitive threats, or to rapidly iterate on prototypes. In today’s digital age, software plays a vital role in that adaptation. 

Whether teams are developing customer facing apps or apps used by internal users, the productivity of development teams is critical. These teams need to quickly and efficiently deliver new apps, services, and capabilities, and ensure code will run smoothly and reliably in production. 

Increasingly, business success will be dictated by how long it takes developers to go from concept to getting a product into customers’ hands. However, while speed to market is critical, quality remains vital. If production issues should arise, the hit to consumer trust and user productivity can be increasingly catastrophic for businesses. 

Productivity is also key to development teams’ morale. If teams are mired in complexity, constantly stuck waiting for dependencies or in debugging loops, spending inordinate amounts of their day on issues like environment maintenance and fixes, rather than coding, work becomes a grind and developer happiness takes a hit. This poor morale can further erode productivity, not to mention making employee recruitment, onboarding, and retention more difficult.

For all these reasons, maximizing the productivity of development teams is of critical importance for today’s businesses. 

Why Maximizing Developer Productivity is More Challenging Than Ever

In recent years, the makeup of apps has changed fundamentally. The monolithic, static apps of the past have been replaced by modern app architectures, which are distributed, complex, and dynamic. Increasingly, these apps rely on a mix of cloud services, microservices, containerization, serverless approaches, and more. While these modern approaches offer a broad range of benefits, they present development teams with a number of challenges. 

Fundamentally, the reliance on local development approaches is becoming a key obstacle, and it represents a model that’s increasingly at odds with the realities of modern app architectures. As a result, teams continue to encounter obstacles in their development workflows, which are placing an increasing strain on team productivity. Following are just a few of the obstacles these local approaches present:

High Costs

Each time a new engineer joins the organization, teams need to invest a significant amount of money and resources to procure a high-powered computer, and to configure it effectively. Further, teams need to continue to invest significant time and effort in keeping these systems current and operational.  

Inconsistency and Inefficiency

Given the inherent characteristics of modern app architectures, it is getting increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to meaningfully replicate modern production environments locally. This is critical because discrepancies between environments breed issues. The more that’s missing from the local system, the more the team is exposed to potential errors. Exacerbating matters is that each developers’ workstation has a distinct set of variables and dependencies.  These variable workstation environments make it increasingly difficult for teams to collaborate, and lead to the common, dreaded refrain: “but it works on my machine.” These limitations leave organizations exposed to increasing risks of bugs and other issues.

For all these reasons, teams incur a significant operational burden, and ultimately struggle to speed delivery. As Mike Seavers, VP of Development at Epic Games, revealed, "It currently takes days to onboard new engineers to the team, and the order of days/weeks to get prototypes deployed to production."

Delays and Barriers to Innovation

Complexity creates administrative overhead, which slows developer output. It is growing increasingly labor intensive for new hires to get their local workstations ready, extending the time it takes for developers to start being productive. As production environments grow more complex, local machine set up and maintenance, for example setting up sandbox environments, continues to grow more time consuming. 

On an ongoing basis, teams must allocate a significant amount of effort to keep local environments current, reducing the time they have for productive development work. Because local workstations are unable to replicate external managed services; these local machine-based approaches can stifle teams’ abilities to most fully capitalize on the advantages of these evolving services. 

Security Risks 

Having code and data residing on local machines can present a range of security risks. For example, developers may have a number of tools and libraries installed, which can introduce significant risk. While on-device security analysis tools can be added, these tools can be very resource intensive, and introduce a significant performance hit.

As teams move to adopt DevSecOps and zero-trust approaches, secrets, sensitive environmental variables and decentralized workflows present inherent obstacles. The increased reliance of remote and hybrid work arrangements can further expose workstations, sensitive assets, and the business. 

Conclusion

Boosting developer productivity continues to get more critical to the business. However, the traditional, local workstation-based development approaches of the past are increasingly ill-suited for developing apps that run on modern architectures. 

To escape this trap, teams need to start employing development approaches that are fully aligned with modern architectures. The good news is that DevZero can help. DevZero equips teams with cloud development environments that are fast, customizable, and ready to code.  Get started today!

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