Improve business outcomes with better Developer Experience
By: Dave Cooper
Published: February 2022
As a leader, you understand the value your employees bring to your business - and that your developers are integral to the timely delivery of quality products. That’s why it's important to ensure they are engaged, collaborative, fulfilled, and focused on providing you their best, most efficient work. Analogous to User Experience, Developer Experience (DX) is the overall impact that the product and its supporting systems have on your internal development team, from project inception to release, and beyond.
Here, we break down the importance of good DX, and what it looks like from a leadership perspective. We’ll also discover how app modernization naturally improves DX, and why making the right DX decisions can lead to concrete business benefits.
Why should DX matter to your business?
Companies that invest in delivering good developer experience can see revenue grow four to five times faster than those who don’t. This may seem like a lofty assertion, but it makes intuitive sense when you consider what gets better with good DX:
Velocity: Features are delivered faster when there is less context-switching and earlier detection of code problems.
Quality: Final products have fewer defects and increased stability.
Visibility: Higher confidence from all stakeholders that the development effort is focused and effective.
Recruiting and onboarding: Attracting and training good developers is faster and cheaper.
Employee engagement: Developers are personally invested in the work because they can clearly see how they are contributing to a reliable, performant, high-quality product. Conversely, unhappy employees can cost an organization approximately $3,400 for every $10,000 of salary in the form of missed workdays, and decreased productivity.
Cost savings through retention: There’s a price tag for not prioritizing engagement and retention. For each employee lost, the cost of replacing them can be anywhere from 50%–250% of their annual salary.
What does bad DX look like?
From inside the dev team, bad DX is easy to identify. You might have heard rumblings from teams responsible for legacy systems that tools, and codebases are scattered, incompatible, slow, and fragile. Or that new features have unpredictable side-effects and too many defects. In some cases, instead of shipping business-critical features at a good cadence, more than 40% of a typical developer’s workweek might consist of struggling with these issues.
But what does bad DX look like from outside of the dev team? If you are in a leadership or stakeholder position, here are some tell-tale signs to watch for:
Poor visibility in the day-to-day development process
Little sense of ownership or engagement
Reluctance and uncertainty in the face of new business requirements
What does good DX look like?
From inside the dev team, good DX is hard to spot - because it is virtually invisible. Tools behave as expected, code is light on boilerplate and dense with business logic. Builds and deployments are so fast and effortless that the developer does not need to think about them.
From a leadership or stakeholder position, you’ll find:
Clear visibility into the day-to-day development process
Budgets map cleanly to features and releases
Higher confidence in planning and estimation efforts
Developers can communicate about new business requirements with confidence
Application modernization delivers better DX “out of the box”
Any application modernization strategy offers a multitude of opportunities for improved DX. Some will flow naturally from the “modern” nature of the implementation. For example:
Well-architected systems flatten learning curves and accelerate time-to-market because code tends to be expressive, readable, and easier to reason.
A reliable cloud-based CI/CD pipeline will reduce a daily source of friction for developers accustomed to a slow and unpredictable deployment setup.
Implementing new features in a stable, performant and robust software system requires less context switching. This allows developers to maintain the flow state in which they do their best work.
Predictable, well-documented modern solutions lead to confident coding with less anxiety about unintended side-effects and regression issues.
Getting the best business outcomes from improved DX
While it’s true that application modernization naturally leads to better DX, there are still some common pitfalls to watch out for. At Assembly, we test every implementation decision against three DX-related criteria.
Does it provide better and faster product development?
Better DX is often reflected in metrics like; deployment frequency, the time it takes for a code commit to get to production, how often a change results in a production failure, and the time it takes to recover from that failure. Assembly builds solutions that help the development effort actively improve these metrics.
Will it continue to provide clear benefits as the product scales and changes?
The last couple of years have taught us that products must be able to scale and pivot at the same time. With stable and scalable solutions in place, a development team can add to and change business logic with confidence, unhindered by doubts about how it will perform.
Is it built on a foundation of simplicity?
The application modernization space is evolving rapidly, and it’s easy to be distracted by technologies that provide some DX benefit without a commensurate business benefit. One of our core strengths at Assembly is implementing solutions that provide both.
While application modernization offers unparalleled opportunities to meet emerging market challenges, it’s equally important to partner with a team that understands how to simplify and streamline the process. At Assembly, we believe that the right approach to app modernization naturally leads to better Developer Experience, which in turn increases the productivity, efficiency, and retention of your valuable team. This positions your product for stronger growth, increased stability, and confidence in the face of market uncertainty. If you’re interested in learning more, you can read about Application Modernization at Assembly, or get in touch.