[Podcast] Why Developer Experience Is Worth the Investment
DevEx isn’t about pandering to every operational nice-to-have; it’s about understanding how meeting developer needs leads to profitability.
In a recent podcast for Contino, VP of Engineering Federico Fregosi spoke to Principal Consultant Ethan Sumner about how DevEx not only builds happier businesses, but more profitable ones too.
In this short blog, we highlight some of the key talking points from the podcast, which you can listen to in full here.
DevEx: Why Now?
Developer experience (DevEx) is a series of activities, tools, processes and policies within a company that enables developers to operate at their best. It supports faster working practices, so developers are not only happier, but more productive, ultimately resulting in more profitable businesses. Enterprises are already seeing the value of developer experience, and we’re seeing more and more global tech companies, and startups alike, investing heavily in the area.
DevEx is coming to the fore at the moment due to a convergence of multiple trends within the tech industry—from growing demand for software development and an increased focus on time-to-market, to a competitive job market and shift towards developer empowerment. Companies are seeing that being good at software is a core differentiator for them, which isn’t only true for tech companies, but for a range of businesses and industries, from manufacturing to life sciences. With more businesses moving from the mindset of IT as a cost centre to IT as value generation, it makes sense that DevEx is gaining traction.
Talent attraction and retention is another benefit of investing in developer experience, but it’s important to differentiate this from the core driver. While developer experience of course results in better job satisfaction and talent retention, the ultimate aim for businesses—and the ultimate outcome—is bottom-line value and profitability. DevEx requires an engineering management lens, which isn’t about gimmicks and operational nice-to-haves; it’s about understanding that meeting developer needs leads to profitability.
Reducing Cognitive Load
One of the big advantages of DevEx is reduction in cognitive load. Four or five years ago our customers were asking us how to get into the cloud, which meant we were building landing zones and helping companies shift from an on-prem-first mentality to a cloud-first one. However, over the past two or three years, companies have been coming to us with multi-cloud requests. They now have AWS, Azure, GCP, Alibaba, and other providers as well; this means we’re now asking developers to be knowledgeable not only about C++, Java, about.NET and more, but also about AWS, GCP and Azure services.
Investing in developer experience and platform engineering is a great way for companies to generate return on investment (ROI) by reducing cognitive load for developers. You don't need your developers to learn a lot of technologies and tools that are hard to maintain and operationalise, but you can help them with a golden path to ROI.
In a similar vein, if you're thinking about developer experience as a whole, you can also think about controls, compliance and frameworks. It’s clear from our conversations with CTOs and CIOs that there’s a market problem whereby compliance checks and gates are at least perceived as making it more difficult to build—companies haven’t been able to automate the way they’re building software, checking software compliance status or performing audits.
“Investing in developer experience is an investment in simplifying compliance and multiple levels of controls to deliver clear ROI for the company.”
Building the Right Foundations
Some customers come to us with very ambitious ideas; they might have a new head of engineering, a new VP or a new CTO and they want to rebuild everything from scratch or perhaps look at the entire flow across every step and stage. The very first stage however is measurement—before you make changes, you should measure at least a few parts of the process.
Measuring lead time—the time at which the product team conceives the idea to the point it’s implemented in production—might be the ideal but it can be unrealistic in practice. Some organisations may not have the ability to measure every stage because it’s never been built in, so we recommend starting with some of the smaller parts of the flow, for example, from the time in which the idea has been converted into a backlog item.
It’s important not to aim for perfection, but to adopt a more agile approach and measure as much as possible, where possible. Building that visibility in the company is the very first step.
How Contino Can Help
For a number of years, Contino has been helping businesses across a range of industries in a variety of ways around developer experience, and our mission is clear—we want to help companies build and strengthen the connection between business and technology.
We've been helping companies change how they operate, changing policies and proxies and working at different levels so that stakeholders not only understand the strategic importance of developer experience but also to ensure that the technical implementation of a specific tool is done correctly.
Contino is one of the few companies that can play across the stack in this way because of the type of people we employ, our positioning and our history. This variety of expertise and experience means we can help customers from the tiny Git commit all the way to the board level decks and presentation and high-level advice that give a clear direction to vital transformation projects.
To learn more about DevEx, listen to our full podcast with Federico and Ethan. Download it here or listen below.