reducing toil with developer collaboration tools

Reducing Toil with Developer Collaboration Tools

Toil is holding your team back. The right collaboration tools can help them break through barriers to reduce toil and spend more time working on the projects that push your business forward.

Ask any engineer what they’d like to eliminate from their daily to-do list, and the answer will almost certainly be some version of reducing toil. 

Engineering organizations can burn hours and hours of work time on repetitive, manual tasks that reduce bandwidth for high-impact projects. That being the case, it’s no surprise that reducing toil helps your team work more productively and experience better job satisfaction in the long run.

Yet even mature, high-achieving organizations struggle to eliminate toil; for example, Google’s  SRE team aims to spend no more than 33% of their engineers’ time on toil. So what can developer teams do to chip away at the toil that’s keeping them from spending their time on the projects that really matter? Let’s take a look.

Collaboration tools can create friction — or they can minimize it

Start by taking a hard look at the tools your team is using. “If a tool can remove the toil from around coding — and from every role that involves coding, including planning, creating, and fixing — then it has a fair shot at supporting collaboration across all aspects of the software development process,” says analyst Jason Bloomberg. 

While there are many, many tools available to help developers manage, track, and automate every granular process, tool, and workflow in their stack, those tools can create more work for the team than the value they provide. Even collaboration tools that try to integrate tools together can create issues.

“Such platforms can certainly provide value — especially when compared to a mishmash of disconnected tools — but they constrain the way the development team wants to work,” Bloomberg says. “Instead of supporting collaboration, they dictate it, or worse: they offer superficial collaboration capabilities that don’t integrate well with existing tools.” 

For tooling to truly move the needle on reducing toil and facilitating collaboration, it must offer the capabilities needed to accelerate developer workflows and processes effectively. 

How collaboration tools designed for developers can reduce toil

Collaboration tools designed for developers, in particular, can help you minimize toil and improve workflows. Here are a few of the ways that a developer-centric collaboration tool can help teams knock out toil and work more productively.

Automating repetitive tasks

From bots that remind your team to share updates for daily standup meetings to slash commands that kick off environment builds, implementing workflow automation with your collaboration platform helps streamline the team’s day-to-day activities. 

Facilitating knowledge sharing 

Collaboration tools can make knowledge sharing and process documentation easier and more accessible to the whole team, and developer-focused collaboration tools include features that further reduce friction in common workflows. Functionality like developer-friendly message formatting that lets you share code snippets in channels and integrated process playbooks ensure your team can effectively collaborate synchronously and asynchronously while minimizing the time they spend searching for information.

Limiting context switching with robust tool integrations

Collaboration platforms can enable a robust ChatOps practice that brings together all the tools your team uses into one place, surfacing essential information from across every tool and allowing your team to take action. The ability to create a new Jira ticket or update process documentation from within your messaging platform can streamline workflows that span multiple tools and help your team reclaim time lost to context switching. 

Improving insights and retrospective cycles

The work of keeping stakeholders informed, performing retrospectives, and updating processes accordingly are important tasks, but they can eat into your team’s work time. Just as collaboration tools can facilitate knowledge sharing among peers, they can also increase visibility during and after incidents. Collaboration tools designed for developers with built-in retrospective and reporting functionality reduce the friction to getting these tasks done, enabling your team to complete them quickly and move on to the next thing.  

Learn more about reducing toil and improving developer collaboration workflows 

The right tools won’t magically eliminate toil from your developers’ workflow. But they can give your team a powerful resource that helps them stay focused on the projects they care about most. 

Want to learn more about how tools like Mattermost can help your team reduce toil and collaborate more effectively? Check out this post about how we use Mattermost to tackle the biggest developer productivity challenges for our own team.