4 Strategies to Keep Your Developers Productive

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4 ways to increase the productivity of your developers

The software development industry thrives because of its constant and high-speed evolution. With the cost of web and software development services rising, it only makes sense to take the necessary steps to improve the efficiency and productivity of your development.

Many scholars and practitioners have studied the ways to improve software development productivity. As a result, many models, methodologies, and processes such as Agile, Waterfall, Scrum, and other user-centered designs have been introduced.

IT organizations are estimated to spend over $1 trillion per year on their IT initiatives. Given this costly amount, anybody who can find ways to reliably gain efficiencies even just by 1% would save millions of dollars.

According to various researches, although technology and processes help, people remain to be the top factor affecting the productivity of software development.

An example would be the study by Frank Philip Seth of Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) which proposes that human factors involved in the software development process are the primary determinants of the productivity and quality of the output.

So how do you keep your developers productive? Here are 4 ways to help you do that.


1. Give them the right tools

Tools in the Development

Having the right tools can empower your developers to deliver the highest quality output in the shortest amount of time.

One of the most valuable characteristics of software development tools is the ability to automate recurring and repetitive tasks. Aside from cutting down the time, this helps in establishing a system within your team so you can have a more seamless process and lower operational costs.

When choosing a tool for defect management, source code management, deployment or any other function, your primary consideration should be the functionalities and ability to be integrated into your day-to-day process. Other factors that you should also consider are scalability, traceability, integration with other tools, and customization.

Project Management Tools

Buying a project management tool on top of your software development tools may seem excessive, but don’t cripple yourself where it really counts.

Purchase a project management tool that will allow your development team to focus on writing code. The longer your team spends writing update emails, the less time they spend building your product.

Some of our most recommended tools are Asana and Jira. There are other available project management tools in the market; it’s just a matter of finding which one is suitable for your team.


2. Provide mentorship, training, and continuous education

Training and development have been proven to improve the productivity and satisfaction of employees.

However, many traditional companies still expect their employees to learn new techniques and skills on their own time and on their own dime. The problem is they simply do not have the time, money, or desire to do this.

By providing training and continuous education to your developers, you are expanding their skill sets that can be used for future projects. This will benefit the company in the long run. If you want to have better developers on your team, consider having a mentorship program among your employees. You should also look at training opportunities outside of your office.

Even if training is not possible due to budgetary constraints, it is still possible to conduct internal training sessions or to allow employees to spend a portion of their time on self-education. As your developers get better at their jobs, they will be more productive.

Moreover, don’t limit your developers to technical skills training, as you can also provide training for leadership, interpersonal communication, management, etc. These types of training can make them more efficient in handling and communicating issues and assure them of career advancement within your organization.


3. Keep non-coding tasks minimal

Many managers think that the key to higher productivity is to work more than eight hours. In reality, you will see that much of an eight-hour workday is wasted time. Your team would rather work to be more efficient in eight hours than learn to love 10-hour days. A study by John Pencavel of Stanford University even revealed that reducing working hours can improve productivity.

Instead of extending the working hours, find out what are the tasks that are consuming most of your developers’ time (ex. answering emails, attending meetings, giving status updates) and find out ways how you can reduce or eliminate these. A few proven ways to do this are the following:

  • Put effective meetings management practices in place – and know how to identify red flags during remote meetings.
  • Talk to your team and find out where they are “losing” a lot of time and try to eliminate those wasted hours wherever possible.
  • Limit the use of email to important matters or use messaging apps for instant communication.
  • Get professional testers for the testing.

For example, at Arcanys, we have built a tool that automates the detailed daily client reporting. It saves a lot of time for the developers and adds a lot of visibility to the client.

On another note, we have also developed Estim8, a tool that allows our developers to manage user stories and provide better, more accurate estimations, as well as create projects structure directly in our Jira, Asana, Basecamp, etc. without the need to rewrite everything. This also saves hours of work for each project.


4. Get them into the flow.

The “flow” for the developers is the state when they feel the most focused and productive. Most of their work is done during this state.

Different people get into the flow in a variety of ways. The key is knowing your developers and creating a non-distracting work environment for them. Here are ways to help them get into and stay in the flow:

  • Provide flexible working hours.

Isn’t it amazing how some people can finish work fast in the morning and tire easily later during the day? Others, meanwhile, get into the groove of things not until later in the evening.

Finding that time of the day where one can be really productive is crucial, and managers can be able to accommodate this by providing flexible working hours.

  • Headphones on!

Some people are fine hearing noise—be it chatter or music—in the background while working. Still, others get easily distracted and find it difficult to finish their tasks.

To be fair to everyone in the office, listening to music with headphones should be encouraged.

  • Clear the distractions.

Most managers believe that programming requires extended periods of intense concentration. What they don’t realize is that they are not doing a very good job at letting their team focus on their work. Distractions can take all sorts of forms such as instant messaging, e-mails, requests for status reports, and goofing off.

One thing that can help is to change the way you communicate. Encourage face-to-face and instant messaging for time-critical items, and ask that your team keep e-mail closed for much of the day.

If possible, place your team members in private offices so that the things happening around them do not distract them.

  • Use online tools for better attention and focus

Among these are RescueTime, which monitors the time you spend on application and websites; focus@will, which provides music that is scientifically-proven to improve focus and productivity; and Self-Control, which blocks out websites irrelevant to a workplace for a set amount of time.


The Role of Management in Keeping Developers Productive

Many companies have experienced low productivity gains despite implementing productivity systems and models because they ignore the two most important factors: communication and management.

A great way to practice communication and management is by having regular meetings — either daily or certain times of the week. This gives you the chance to connect with your team, learn about their issues, and guide them through hurdles. You should run these meetings efficiently and allow everyone an opportunity to talk about the issues they face.

This puts everyone on the same page, presents areas for improvement, and strengthens the team’s connection thereby increasing productivity in the long run.

Keeping your developers productive not only ensures fast or on-time delivery of the project, but it also gives them the opportunity to be more innovative. In the end, this impacts your organization as a whole.

By outsourcing to Arcanys, you won’t have to worry about the costs, issues, and other resources that you have to devote in hiring, retaining, and keeping developers productive. Contact us today to find out how we can speed up your project and minimize your spending.

About the author

Fred had been working on IT and operational projects in the finance and software industry in Switzerland for 10 years before co-founding Arcanys in 2010. He carefully negotiated with and managed outsourcing suppliers as a corporate buyer on the one hand, and led delivery teams as an internal provider to operational departments at an executive level of listed companies in Switzerland, on the other. With nearly 20 years of experience in the industry in Switzerland, Hong Kong, and the Philippines, Fred is now leading the worldwide sales and marketing efforts of Arcanys. View on Linkedin

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