How to Measure and Maximize Developer Productivity


If you’re in charge of an IT department, at some point in your life, you’ll ask yourself: how can I maximize developer productivity? If you haven’t yet, chances are you’re getting there very soon.

Today, organizations are under pressure to innovate and react fast to market changes, leading to an increased burden on top of developers. They must produce new software solutions within tight deadlines and work on multiple projects simultaneously while ensuring the products they deliver are stable, secure, and meet the most stringent user experience requirements.

With the tech talent shortage not slowing down (and developer’s costs going up), it’s imperative you maximize your existing dev team’s productivity to meet these demands.

But how can you increase the development speed without impacting the quality of the apps delivered? Let’s find out.

What’s developer productivity?

Developer productivity refers to the capacity of developers to complete development tasks within a given timeframe with efficiency and effectiveness.

In other words, it’s about delivering high-quality software at a fast pace, building them right, and building them for the future. (where have I heard this before?)

Defining “developer productivity” is pretty straightforward. What’s not so obvious is how to measure it. This is an important question for tracking progress, identifying areas for improvement, and making informed decisions.

How can you measure developer productivity?

It can be tempting to look for metrics such as the number of hours the dev team put in, the number of lines of code they write, and the number of bugs they fix. But these strictly “quantity” metrics will not take you far. Most likely, they will only add up to your technical debt.

Instead, it’s a better exercise to take a step back and understand the outcome you’re looking for by improving developer productivity. My guess is that a faster time-to-market and gaining competitive advantage are at the top of your list.

Organizations want to augment their developer productivity to become high-performing organizations.

DORA, a Google Cloud research arm, describes high-performing organizations as those that demonstrate excellence in software delivery and operational performance. This can be measured based on four metrics that I also believe are a great way to measure developer productivity:

  • Deployment frequency: the frequency of code deployments to production.
  • Lead time for changes: the time it takes to implement and deploy code changes.
  • Mean time to recover (MTTR): the time it takes for the system to recover from failures or incidents.
  • Change failure rate: the percentage of changes that result in a failed deployment or require remediation.

These metrics indicate how capable organizations are to deliver new features and functionality fast, with a lower risk of failure or downtime. This, in turn, allows developers to be more productive and to focus on building new capabilities rather than fixing bugs or addressing operational issues.

So, how do you maximize developer productivity?

The million-dollar question.

Several factors influence developer productivity. The biggest mistake organizations make is thinking that is solely influenced by the human element — the capacity of your team to deliver more and faster.

However, this could not be further from the truth.

Developer productivity is influenced by multiple factors, such as skills, work environment, and even motivation. But, according to a study by McKinsey, what influences dev productivity the most is the tools your team has access to.


I’d go even further and say that the main blocker to developer productivity is technological complexity and waste that restrains development teams and, thus, companies from innovation. Because let’s see:

  • Developing code is hard: development experience is becoming more complex every day, as data and capabilities developers need are now scattered across multiple systems.
  • Developers need to work in a complex world of integrations and APIs: the average company has 254 SaaS applications that developers need to deal with and consume data from to create customer and employee experiences. All these systems need to be integrated into a web of APIs adding complexity to developers' work.
  • Cloud requires deep and specialized technical knowledge: as we enter the era of cloud-native, developers tend to use multi-cloud services which require deep technical knowledge of the services that are out there, what they do, how they perform, and how they can be combined to generate composed services or solve a business problem.
  • Developers do more than coding: according to IDC1, the majority of development time is spent on tasks not related to the actual act of development. Instead, it’s spent with CI/CD, operational activities, testing, and security. Only 16% of a developer’s time is spent on actual coding.

To maximize developer productivity, organizations need to start by surpassing these challenges and invest in technology that allows their development teams to focus on creativity and actually producing innovation, instead of the tedious and repetitive aspects of software development.

This, in turn, will impact other factors that influence productivity, namely developer motivation.

And that’s where low-code comes in.

How low-code boosts developer productivity

The right low-code platform can help developers eliminate waste and overhead, so they can build more apps without losing power and control over their code.

That’s the case with the OutSystems low-code platform.

OutSystems is a high performance low-code development platform that empowers organizations to build web and mobile applications 5 to 8 times faster than traditional coding ways of building software. 

At OutSystems, we embraced our mission to make developers 100x more productive.

Here are a few capabilities of how our platform enables that:

  • Visual, full stack development: the platform provides out-of-the-box capabilities, such as app and screen templates, and hundreds of drag-and-drop widgets to make it fast and easy for developers to build web and mobile applications. They can also extend the platform capabilities with custom code to ensure they never hit a wall. You can build front-ends and back-ends with all the integration and automation in between.
  • Easy integrations: you can easily integrate the apps built with the platform with cloud services or other enterprise systems like SAP, Salesforce, and Microsoft through out-of-the-box connectors. (Explore the how in our post about the Integration Builder).
  • Github-like repository of reusable components: OutSystems developers have access to over 4,000 (and growing) components built and maintained by our Developer Community. These components include features and functionality developers can add to applications without reinventing the wheel. And if they can’t find what they need, they can extend the platform by writing their own code and rolling it into a pre-built component.
  • Embedded DevOps tools: OutSystems provides all the tools development teams need to start building applications and take them all the way to production. This includes built-in DevOps tools that unify software development and operations with automation and monitoring to facilitate the implementation of CI/CD.
  • In-app user feedback: the platform provides a framework of governance for both IT users and end-users that allows them to share their feedback and flag bugs directly in the app, simplifying the whole change management process.
  • AI-assisted development in all stages of the life cycle: OutSystems provides the AI Mentor System, a comprehensive set of AI-based development, security, and quality analysis tools that provide expert-level assistance across the most critical areas of the software development lifecycle. Within the AI Mentor System, you’ll find: AI-code mentor, AI Architecture Mentor, AI Security Mentor, AI Performance Mentor, and the AI Maintainability Mentor.

To watch all these capabilities in action and learn more about our AI-Mentor Systems and how it helps you build applications fast, securely, and with agility, check out my webinar High-Performance Low-Code: Power and Control that Delights Pro-Devs hosted by me and my colleague Fernando Moitinho.

Explore how OutSystems is making developers more productive

Every company dreams about becoming a high-performing software company, like Netflix and Uber. Unfortunately, the bar is extremely high, and achieved by only ~11% of organizations worldwide.

The goal of OutSystems is to democratize the concept of high-performance, enabling real-world organizations that don’t have the big pockets or unlimited resources of the Big Tech to achieve this level of capability today.

You can learn more about the OutSystems platform on our platform page. To an in-depth session on how OutSystems maximizes developer productivity, be sure you watch my session.

1Source: IDC - Worldwide Development Languages, Environments, and Tools Forecast, 2021-2025