How to Measure and Improve Productivity of Your Software Development Team

Software development is quite a volatile job that requires constant efforts from the entire team in order to succeed. There is tremendous competition in the industry and all development teams are working rigorously to outperform their competitors. In such a dynamic and competitive environment, how do you accurately measure and improve dev productivity?  We spoke to experts from the industry and have compiled a list of key metrics to measure developer productivity. Before we discuss the metrics, let’s first understand the term productivity in the context of software development.

Defining developer productivity

In general terms, productivity is defined as an individual’s ability to produce goods or services. But when it comes to software development, the word ‘productivity’ encompasses much more than that. Each part of the process of software development must be taken into account to reflect the effectiveness of the team.

Besides the developers, a modern-day software development team often involves personnel such as business analysts and front-end graphic designers. Thus, a team with a multi-disciplinary skillset requires a progressive guideline, must be flexible, and have an open mind. This dynamic complicates the decision of defining a universal metric or KPI that accurately represents productivity.  

Challenges in measuring developer productivity

The world is not a perfect place and the pieces don’t just fall into the right places, at the right time. Working on a software development project can be very challenging and sophisticated.

While some project management tools are of great benefit for the successful completion of projects, they don’t necessarily provide insights into the individual developer’s productivity. This raises some serious concerns while trying to estimate the working efficiency of developers. Some of the issues are as follows:

Vague documentation

Sometimes the developers are handed a substandard specification of the project in question. This raises a bunch of questions in the mind of the developers and they are often confused about the design and build phase. They’re left with no other option but to work things out on their own and refine the requirements.

In such a situation, the overall build phase takes a longer time than expected, forcing the developers to cause a delay in other projects.

Environmental configuration

There are some projects that require developers to create interfaces for trading information across multiple environments. For such assignments, it becomes essential to configure firewalls and supply credentials. Since the developers have to wait for several permissions, they are unable to start working immediately. This adversely affects overall productivity.

Many development teams are globally distributed

With the kind of advanced technology available, it has become very easy for businesses to outsource their work across different continents. However, this particular business model makes it harder to measure developer productivity. This is because of the developers operating in different time-zones and with distinct user stories.

How to improve the performance of a software development team

As we have mentioned earlier in this post, the insights you get from these metrics will serve as a cue as to what needs to be improved.

In addition to that, certain basic measures like providing developers with a noise-free, pleasant workstation and conducting regular training sessions go a long way in enhancing productivity.

Lastly, clarity in objectives, motivation, and boosting developer expertise are keys to improving your development team’s productivity.

The Bottom Line

In a nutshell, improving your development team’s productivity first requires you to define productivity and performance for your team. Even though metrics won’t necessarily give you the most accurate insights for individual developers, you need this data for a collective understanding of how things are going at your organization. When it comes to improving your team’s productivity, motivation, one on one meetings and relevant training sessions can do wonders for you.

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