How to Improve Developer Productivity for Your Organization

Need to make some changes to improve developer productivity for your team? Here’s how to roll out a new productivity initiative.

Fostering a developer team that is empowered to consistently and quickly produce their best work is a necessary goal for every software team. But the demands on developer teams to produce more code faster than ever — combined with the challenges of remote work — can create an environment that isn’t conducive to developer productivity. 

Want to improve developer productivity at your organization? Check out our tips for identifying where your team gets stuck and a few solutions that can help your team unblock their workflows. 

Evaluate Where Your Team Is Getting Stuck

There’s a reason why developer productivity is such a poor metric on its own. It’s not really a problem to be solved, so much as it is an indicator that something isn’t quite right with your development team. Whether there’s one big problem or a few smaller ones, they’re probably adding up to the same core result: a frustrated team of developers who can’t be as productive and creative as they want to be.

Before you do anything else, start by identifying where your team is experiencing friction. Ask, observe, measure — whatever it takes to get a handle on where your team is getting stuck and could use some help. Your developers probably know what’s holding them back most, and after a few conversations, you’ll probably have enough insight to determine your next steps. Some of the most common developer productivity challenges include:

  • Inadequate process documentation
  • Tools that don’t fit developer workflows
  • Overly manual workflows
  • Not enough autonomy
  • An over-extended team
  • Technical debt overload  

Once you’ve identified your developers’ biggest friction points, you’ll be ready to make a plan to tackle them and improve productivity for the whole team.

Develop and Communicate an Improvement Plan

Ready to tackle tool fragmentation or introduce better workflow automation? While it might be tempting to shake things up with big, drastic changes, you’ll likely have better luck with the adoption of new tools, processes, and other initiatives if you start small.  The larger your team and the bigger changes, the more challenging it will be to roll them out. Your plan might look something like this:  

  • Start with buy-in from key stakeholders: If team leads aren’t fully on board with your idea, getting the rest of the developer team to buy into the changes will be an uphill battle. 
  • Break rollout into small steps with clear milestones: New tools and processes aren’t always as simple as “stop that, start this.” Figure out what the building blocks for success look like. Is it creating one new ticket in a new project management tool? Working down technical debt one bug at a time? The smaller and more actionable the steps, the more successful you’ll be.
  • Roll out changes to a core group before you scale: Introduce your initiative with a smaller, more focused cohort before you roll it out organization-wide. This will help you smooth out any potential challenges early on, and creates internal champions who will help increase adoption in the long term.
  • Create channels for ongoing feedback and support: Even the best-laid plans can fall flat if the team gets stuck (and can’t figure out how to get unstuck). Whether it’s weekly office hours, a messaging channel dedicated to the initiative, or a tutorial session that everyone can join, creating space for the team to ask questions and find answers is essential. 

Need some inspiration? Check out how one organization implemented Mattermost as their new collaboration platform for a team of 34,000 people

Listen to Your Developers 

Productivity initiatives are almost never a one-and-done project; they require ongoing feedback and refinement to really land with the team. Whether it’s tooling, workflow shifts, or something else, productivity initiatives live or die by the team’s adoption of those initiatives.

Just as you asked your developers for help understand what their blockers are, take the time to get their feedback on the solution as well. Has a well-intentioned tool actually introduced more work into their day? Has a change to their workflow created an unexpected problem downstream? The feedback you get from your developers will help you adjust and refine your processes, tools, and workflows to ensure that everything from the smallest app to the biggest cultural initiative serves your goal of helping the team be more productive.

Learn More About Improving Developer Productivity

In Unblocking Workflows: The Guide to Developer Productivity, we look at some of the biggest productivity blockers for developer teams, dive into how they impact business outcomes, and share tips on resolving them. Read the guide now to learn more about breaking through your team’s developer productivity challenges!

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Ashley Dotterweich is the Head of Content at Mattermost. Previously, she ran content marketing for Heavybit Industries and Rainforest QA.

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