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Ensuring Your Software Engineer Team's Productivity

Recruiting, Training and Other Factors to Earn Your Stripes

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8 Essential DevOps Tools You Can Try in 2020

8 Essential DevOps Tools You Can Try in 2020

There are tons of DevOps tools out there. There’s always a solution to every problem you and your team face. However, it’s easy to fall into a bit of analysis paralysis with the countless options – leaving you unsure of picking the most effective tools that can bring your developer team and operations team on the same page and improve the software performance, especially when you’re a noob or a beginner that has jumped in software development. In this article, we’ve put together this list of worth-considering DevOps tools you can at least try this year to help your developer team and operations team work together in harmony with ease.

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By GITENTIAL TEAM

Should you hire more software engineers or focus on increasing developer productivity? Is it truly a case of this and/or that? Many issues are in play. Yet, the software industry seems slow in coming to grips with the reality of today’s, not to mention tomorrow’s, IT workforce. Software engineer and developer efficiency can be improved, by as much as 30%. But, hiring extra qualified software engineers is harder, takes longer and costs more. Steadily growing demand for a finite supply of qualified IT talent makes it a precious, strategic resource. Qualified IT engineers don’t grow on trees, but their skills do.

Software engineering productivity vs. technical debt

Stripe’s 2018 report The Developer Coefficient, compared the thoughts of 1,000 developers against 1,000 C-level executives. It’s surprising. Both camps see eye to eye, more or less. Nearly all executives see increasing developer productivity as a medium to high priority. Developers also rated their own productivity at 68.4%. A third of their time is spent paying down technical debt plus almost 10% more time dealing with bad code.

With meetings and other administrative tasks, they spend less than half of their time coding. Both camps recognize efficiency is a problem, but don’t necessarily agree on what to do about it. Other issues like legacy systems and project priorities contribute to inefficiency, too. We’ll save debating priorities and budgets with executives and customers for another day. Yes, yes, move along, nothing to see there…

In any case, a 30% gap in developer productivity is huge. We recently discussed avoiding technical debt. The Pareto Principle gives clues to help address your largest causes of inefficiency. Automated software development analytics will also save you a lot of time. You need it for a detailed view of other contributing factors impeding productivity.

The software engineer shortage

Now for the no-brainer exercise! If you have three software engineers, but need four, increasing productivity won’t get you there. It’ll help, yes. Between overtime and burnout, the issue becomes an issue of engineer capacity. Squeezing engineers like their turnips is not an option. Per Stripe, 81% of respondents indicated work overload negatively impacts their morale. About 40% of them believe they don’t have enough skilled employees. McKinsey makes a huge distinction between average and highly skilled employees. To paraphrase,

Studies of businesses… reveal that the (performance) gap rises with a job’s complexity. In highly complex occupations (i.e. software developers), high performers are an astounding 800 percent more productive (than average performers).

But, the software development industry has a severe shortage of qualified candidates. The drought runs across all job titles. According to ncube, the US has a shortage of 500,000 software developers with that many more soon to retire. LinkedIn shows over 556,000 vacancies for software developers and 620,000 software engineers. It has 56,000 vacancies for software engineering managers. The shortages include Software QA analysts, ML/AI specialists, data scientists, etc.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows most of these jobs are growing faster than average. Demand for qualified IT personnel exceeds the pace of new graduates. The shortage will continue to get worse for the foreseeable future. This equates to 6-8 more weeks to fill vacancies. It also means higher wages for the qualified candidates filling them. Stripe even concluded, “Access to developers is a bigger threat to success than access to capital.”

The law of accelerating returns

At any point in the past decade, has it gotten any easier to find and hire qualified software engineers? Is it likely that it will get any easier in the next five to ten years? Ray Kurzweil, Google’s Director of Engineering may not always be right, but he has a good track record. Some know him for his paper, “The Law of Accelerating Returns.” Simply stated, the faster technology evolves, the faster it will continue to evolve. We’ve seen that with the Internet, faster computers, and countless tech startups. Tech is evolving faster than colleges, universities, and trade schools can teach it. Those $50 coding bootcamps aren’t helping a whole lot.

So far, technology is creating more new jobs than it displaces. But almost all the new jobs need greater skill sets. This brings us to a possible disconnect in Stripe’s survey. On one hand, 4 in 10 think their companies respond too slow to technology. Yet, ~80% of executives and developers are confident of their ability to respond to tech trends. This could tie to having a core cadre of highly skilled developers on their team. It could also reflect plans to intensify recruiting efforts or new training programs. They might be counting on human augmentation technologies. It could be simple overconfidence. We’ll see how that all unfolds.

The third option - training

Is engineer productivity and recruiting come up short? If so, it’s time to get creative. Unemployment is at its lowest recorded rate ever. Even the US military has reduced its admission standards for the 78,000 recruits it needs, yearly. So, having cited Stripe’s survey, it is only fitting to illustrate this third option with a short clip from the movie, Stripes…

Training Sir!

Very few of those enlisting in the military start out qualified for the jobs they will perform. They’re trained. Recruiters and hiring managers aren’t complaining about a shortage of unqualified candidates.

Software engineer skills actually do grow on trees

If you’re faced with needing more engineers or increasing their efficiency, a career development program will reinforce the prospects for your long-term survival. These days, people can expect to have at least 5-6 different careers in their lifetime. Not different jobs, actual different careers. Developers at Cisco, Oracle, Apple and other top companies may stay at their jobs for 5-7 years. For most companies, IT staff average stick around 2 to 2.5 years. Focusing too much on specific job titles misses the big picture and limits options.

Consider cultivating job skills at all levels. Help your software testers become software QA analysts or software developers. In turn, help developers become engineers. Give them a path to management, ML/AI or data science roles.

  • Structured career paths to increase long-term retention.
  • Incentivize continued education on the skills you need. Checkout EdX for online courses.
  • Develop apprenticeship and mentoring programs.
  • Create your own in-house skills development program. The Open Education Consortium (OEC) has resources for software engineering and development skills. You don’t need to start from scratch.

Software development analytics

Software engineers play a critical role in any software development team. Their time and skills are a strategic resource. The smaller your team, the greater their impact. Their job satisfaction declines as technical debt grows, as they work more hours, as their priorities change. A new job, today, is little more than a click away.

Automated software development analytics can help you identify factors contributing to technical debt and inefficiency. It is also consistently capable of identifying who is looking for a new job. This gives you the ability to talk with your software engineers and developers to determine why. At the same time, software development analytics is instrumental in measuring the effectiveness of training programs and code reviews.

All in all, when it comes to increasing your software engineer capacity, four approaches are needed:

  1. Constantly strive to increase efficiency across your entire team.
  2. If you need more engineers, start the recruiting and hiring process earlier.
  3. Take steps to develop the skills of all your team members.
  4. Use automated software development analytics to track all activity.

Our team at Gitential constantly watches trends across the software development industry. We also get down into the code with you to find ways to make it easier for you to make your team more efficient. Please take a moment to check out our free software development analytics demo – or sign up for a free trial, no credit card is needed.

8 Essential DevOps Tools You Can Try in 2020

8 Essential DevOps Tools You Can Try in 2020

There are tons of DevOps tools out there. There’s always a solution to every problem you and your team face. However, it’s easy to fall into a bit of analysis paralysis with the countless options – leaving you unsure of picking the most effective tools that can bring your developer team and operations team on the same page and improve the software performance, especially when you’re a noob or a beginner that has jumped in software development. In this article, we’ve put together this list of worth-considering DevOps tools you can at least try this year to help your developer team and operations team work together in harmony with ease.

Read More »

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Don't miss our latest updates. All About Software Engineering Best Practices, Productivity Measurement, Performance Analytics, Software Team Management and more.