With tech giants winning the race for scarce development talent, increasing developer productivity is the holy grail for all companies that need to innovate these days. And although this concept seems to be pretty straightforward, the truth is, is it?

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How do you measure developer productivity? Is it by the number of hours your dev team puts on? The number of lines of code they write? The number of bugs they fix? These types of strictly “quantity” metrics will not take you far. Most likely, they will only add up to your technical debt.

Developer productivity is, first and foremost, about delivering high-quality software at a high pace. Today, organizations need to be able to innovate and react fast to changing customer needs, while ensuring the products they deliver are stable, secure, and meet the most stringent user experience requirements. To put it in other words, developer productivity is about building software fast, right, and for the future.

But why is this so hard to achieve and so difficult to measure?

Developer Productivity Roadblocks

The main blocker to developer productivity is technological complexity and waste that restrains development teams and, thus, companies from innovation. That happens because:

  • 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 can they 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.

So, how can we measure developer productivity and their ability to deliver innovation, when developers don’t even have time to focus on coding?

Curious enough, when IDC2 asked developers what they would do if they had more time, the most common answer was coding. Developers want to produce functionality, conducting software requirement analysis, release management, or security and vulnerability analysis.

This goes to show that developer productivity is not just good for business; is key to keeping developers motivated and retaining talent in a time when talent is very scarce.

How to Maximize Developer Productivity

To maximize developer productivity, organizations need to start by surpassing the challenges mentioned above, and free developers from operational tasks to actually produce innovation. Which is very hard to accomplish with traditional development. Many platforms don’t include CI/CD and test automation embedded, and when they do, it is usually too cumbersome to generate.

What about agile and DevOps practices? Well, according to McKinsey, in a study about developer velocity, they found that although agile team practices are helpful to fuel development teams, they don’t play a differentiator role. What makes a difference are developer tools that enable greater productivity, visibility, and coordination.

Organizations with best-in-class tools across the development life cycle are 65 % more innovative. And, in the same way, developer satisfaction and retention rates are 47 % higher in organizations that provide relevant tools for each stage of the software life cycle.

So, organizations need to invest in tools that allow their development teams to focus on creativity and innovation, instead of the tedious, and repetitive aspects of software development.

How Low-Code for Pro-Devs Maximizes Productivity

High-performance low-code platforms like OutSystems provide a level of abstraction not just to the development phase, through visual programming, but to the full CI/CD cycle. Thanks to its AI and automation capabilities, it helps development teams to accelerate development by automating those tasks that consume developers’ time.

This way, it enables developers to deliver serious applications with serious productivity fast–the kind that eliminates waste and overhead so professional developers can get on with the creative business of designing and deploying uniqueness.

To learn more about how a high-performance low-code can help you revolutionize your developer’s productivity, check out my webinar Remove Wasted Development Time with a Modern Cloud Dev Platform. In under 20 minutes, I’ll show you all the aspects of OutSystems that make us the right platform to build serious apps with serious productivity.


1 Source: IDC - Worldwide Development Languages, Environments, and Tools Forecast, 2021-2025 - 23rd December 2021

2 Source: Future of Digital Innovation: Trends in Building Software Innovation in the Enterprise, July 2021 - Market Presentation.