Boosting Developer Productivity: Metrics, Tips, and Tools.

The SeaLights Software Metrics Guide
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Developer productivity is difficult to measure, but is a key factor to the success of any development organization. Much of the promise of the agile methodology was to empower developers and make them more effective at doing their jobs. Has it succeeded?

Learn a few ways to measure developer productivity, and learn how to use best practices and tools to remove distractions and help developers concentrate on doing what they love: create new code that delivers value for your organization’s customers.

In this article you will learn:

How to Measure Developer Productivity

Developer productivity was traditionally based on how many lines of code, features, or projects a developer could create. It didn’t necessarily take into account the quality of what was delivered or how well it met specifications. While this is a measure of productivity, it’s not especially meaningful. To improve upon this measure, organizations have begun to focus more on the following developer productivity metrics.

Technical debt

Technical debt is the amount of extra work that must be done when code is implemented, adapted, or patched. For example, hot fixes of issues are effective but often create technical debt for the next version release. Complexity, standards violations, and lack of documentation all increase technical debt. To measure developer productivity, you need to take into account how much technical debt is accrued and weigh productivity against it.

Finished tasks

There are multiple ways to break down and track work in development projects, including tickets and kanban cards. Whichever method you use, keeping track of the number of tasks completed can help you gauge productivity. Many development tools include tools to help you quickly assess this amount by team, project, or member.

To ensure that this count is more meaningful than a simple in-out measure, make sure to consider the following aspects:

  • Complexity of tasks
  • Estimated completion time
  • Priority of task

Documentation

Writing documentation is the bane of many developers. It is often easier to produce code than to clearly define why it was implemented in a certain way or to explain its structure to someone who hasn’t worked on it. Despite this, documentation is key to ensuring that code is easily maintainable. 

For maintainability’s sake, you should include documentation in your developer productivity metrics. If you do not, you are discouraging developers from properly documenting and reducing the quality of your project as a whole. You can measure this aspect by page count or attributions. However, make sure to account for poorly written or inefficient documentation. 

Deployments

Deployments refer to when releases are made available to users. A deployment represents the greatest value of your project since it is the product your users are actually paying for. You can track this measure via your pipeline. Keep in mind, to get the greatest value from this measure, you need to consider the size, complexity, and value of the deployed changes. You should also take into account that deployments often condense the work of multiple developers.

How Can You Improve Productivity?

When striving to improve developer productivity there are several strategies you and your team can adopt. Below are a few to start with. 

Minimize distractions and multitasking

Although obvious, this can be difficult to achieve. Constant alerts, open workspaces, and limited attention spans all contribute to reduced productivity. Likewise, avoid attempts at multitasking. When you try to do multiple tasks at once it ends up taking longer to complete all tasks and you are more likely to make mistakes.

Optimize your Integrated Development Environment (IDE)

Configure your tooling to improve developer productivity, not harm it. Many IDEs come with features for autocompletion, highlighting, and real-time code analysis. Use these features to help organize and produce high-quality code more quickly, and to learn from mistakes in real time. 

You should also consider using snippets of common functions or code blocks. Snippets enable you to quickly add code, eliminating the need to reinvent the wheel. 

Clearly define project specs

Clearly defined specs reduce misunderstandings between team members and enable you to get started on work immediately. Clear specs can also help ensure that tests are effective and that functional.

Eliminate unneeded tests

In today’s agile teams, developers are responsible for testing and often spend 50% or more of their time on maintenance-related activity. An important way to improve developer productivity is to review and optimize this maintenance activity. Are developers spending their time on the tests that matter the most? Is anyone creating a test that is redundant or overlaps with existing tests? Are teams maintaining tests that are not really needed anymore? Answering these questions can shave precious hours off developer schedules. 

Productivity Tools for Developers

When looking for ways to improve developer productivity, you’ll find a wide variety of available tools. A few you might consider are introduced below.

Sublime Text

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Sublime Text is a text editor you can use for code, markup, and documentation. It includes features for multiple selections, definition indexing, split editing, and customization. You can extend Sublime Text through custom plugins via the Python API. 

Sublime Text supports a variety of languages, including JS, Python, Ruby, Perl, and PHP. You can use it with Mac, Windows, and Linux systems. 

Habitica

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Habitica is a productivity tool you can use to gamify habit creation. It is set up like an old school role-playing game and includes characters that you can level up and outfit with experience earned through finishing tasks or goals. Habitica supports daily, weekly, and long-term habits, goals, and project lists. You can use it via web browser or mobile app.

ProofHub

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ProofHub is a tool you can use to manage to-do lists and collaborate on projects. It includes features for kanban boards, custom workflows, reporting, project management, tasks, and custom roles. You can use ProofHub to share and proof documents, host online discussions, and log work. ProofHub is a software as a service offering that you can access via browser or mobile app.

Codeanywhere

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Codeanywhere is another code editing tool you can use. Unlike Sublime Text, however, this tool is designed to support real-time collaboration on your codebase. It includes features for customization of layouts and colors, linting, code completion, change comparisons, pre-built container environments, and a terminal console. 

Codeanywhere supports 75 languages, including Python, Ruby, JS, and C++. You can integrate it with a variety of tools, including GitHub and Dropbox. You can use Codeanywhere on the web or via mobile app.

Improve Developer Productivity With Sealights Software Quality Intelligence

Testing is a crucial element of the development cycle. Developers spend around 50% of their time on tests and maintenance activity, but there is poor visibility and data as to which tests are the most important, and where developers should really be focusing their time.

Sealights analyzes your software, and then provides you with the feedback necessary to prioritize testing and build efficient testing cycles. With Sealights, you can discover which tests are needed to improve software quality, and which tests are redundant and should not be performed. By eliminating redundant or ineffective tests, you can save time for developers and directly improve their productivity. 

SeaLights has been used successfully by Fortune 500 companies to shave off precious developer hours, which translated into savings of millions of Dollars.