Nine Ways To Improve Developer Productivity

7 minute read | 11 Jun 2021

By Isaac Sacolick

I don’t know of a single digital, data, or technology team that can easily keep up with all business priorities and demands for application development. Whether it’s digital transformation driving priorities to improve customer experience, a business strategy to become more data-driven, or hybrid working requiring organizations to improve employee experiences, organizations want more applications developed faster and released more frequently.

That can put significant pressure on application development and data management teams that require the collaboration, skills, development processes, and platforms to deliver high-quality capabilities at greater velocities.

Low-code platforms can be a productivity driver in developing employee workflows, customer experiences, and integrations. Between easier-to-use development tools, built-in DevOps capabilities, out-of-the-box integrations, and other capabilities, developers have the ingredients to simplify and accelerate the development process.

Here are 10 ways to improve developer productivity:

1. Use a Low Code Platform

Low-code platforms can be a productivity driver in developing employee workflows, customer experiences, and integrations. Between easier-to-use development tools, built-in DevOps capabilities, out-of-the-box integrations, and other capabilities, developers have the ingredients to simplify and accelerate the development process.

2. Encourage Frequent Communication

Regular communication between developers can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and allow for smooth processes and documentation. Clear communication can allow for some processes to be automated and allow developers to focus on tasks that require more oversight.

3. Determine Proof of Concept

The first step development teams often do when working on a new idea is to develop a quick proof of concept (PoC). Developing the PoC usually requires multiple sitdowns with subject matter experts to understand their vision, requirements, and integration needs. Once sufficient requirements are understood, the development process may include developing wireframes, basic designs, lightweight integrations, and basic functionality. Agile teams share results at the end of every sprint to get frequent feedback from stakeholders and application end-users.
How many sprints and developers does it take to achieve a minimally viable PoC? That probably depends on the specific requirements, but there’s an opportunity to condense the development process. For example, instead of wireframing and designing, the development team can prototype multiple flows and user experiences with a low-code application development platform. For simple internal workflows, the team should consider a citizen development process. If integrations are needed, then the low-code platform may have an out-of-the-box connector to use.

4. Use Visual Tools

“We have an API” is what SaaS vendors will claim, but what capabilities do the APIs expose, and how easy is it to orchestrate the required integrations?

Integrations tend to be an unknown x-factor when it comes to developing data and process flow integrations. Developers can’t fully evaluate the feasibility and assess development complexities without prototyping the integration, validating the API’s capabilities, and analyzing the data quality.

Low-code platforms that have integrations with the most common SaaS platforms enable development teams to start their assessments by reviewing documentation, evaluating sample implementations, and attempting simple integrations. It’s common to integrate applications with platforms such as:

  • CRMs like Marketo, Salesforce, and SugarCRM
  • ERPs including Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics, NetSuite, QuickBooks, and SAP
  • HR systems including Saba, SuccessFactors, Taleo, and Workday
  • Workflow tools including Jira, ServiceNow, and Slack
  • Public cloud services including AWS, Azure, Box, Google, and Snowflake

But developers can achieve an even higher productivity level when the low-code platform exposes visual tools to develop and test non-standards or less commonly implemented integrations. The capability to rapidly prototype integrations can be a game-changer for developers working with industry-specific platforms in government, manufacturing, higher ed, retail, and healthcare.

5. Develop Manageable APIs that Deliver Value

Completing an integration for one workflow, customer experience, or application is an important achievement, but chances are, the business goal requires development teams to implement multiple integrations. The last thing development teams want is to create numerous and independent integrations producing technical debt and necessitating future consolidations.

To avoid this fate, development teams should think of building API integrations as products or services. That service becomes a common bridge between internally developed workflows and customer experience applications with an external SaaS platform, enterprise system, or data source. Once created, it enables reuse, and when enhancements are needed, the upgrade becomes available to all applications and development teams.

6. Maintain API Catalogs While Developing Apps

With data cleansed and reusable integrations deployed, one additional area of productivity stems from an activity often left out by development teams. It requires creating documentation, cataloging information, and internally marketing new capabilities to get actual reuse so that multiple business and technology teams learn about new API and data services.

One key to success is to integrate API management into the development process. API management ensures that endpoints are developed, deployed, stored, updated, and controlled to support customer experiences, scalability, security, and reusability.

API management is a defensive and offensive strategy that improves productivity and quality. On the defensive side, developers create derivative data sources unknowingly as they don’t know how best to update existing data structures without downstream impacts. Instead of creating a new asset out of fear or convenience, API management tools establish a discipline of researching existing solutions and promoting reuse. That’s the offensive side of the strategy, and it can have a dramatic impact on productivity and quality.

7. Use Productivity Tools

Productivity tools are essential if you are looking to boost productivity. There are plenty of productivity tools out there. Poll your development teams and find out which tool they prefer best. Streamline communication through these tools and allow developers to mark off big and small tasks.

8. Set Realistic Deadlines

Just like you should be creating actual measurements on what “productivity” means, you should also set expectations around deadlines. If deadlines are constantly missed, this could be a productivity problem, but it could also be a “setting up unrealistic expectations” problem.

Include developers in your conversations around deadlines and what is realistic. Overwhelmed and burnt-out developers affect focus and productivity. Be sure to set deadlines that are aggressive, but also doable to maintain balance.

9. Encourage Work-Life Balance

This may seem counterproductive- doesn’t more time put in equal greater productivity? Not necessarily. Helping developers foster healthy habits like breaks can improve overall productivity.

Plus, investing in low code no code platforms will help put time back into the developer’s day, which will allow them to feel like they have the opportunity to take a break rather than force them to work longer hours, lowering morale and tanking productivity.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Boomi.