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CircleCI: Making life easier for software engineers speeds up innovation

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Making life easier for software engineers can improve the organization’s bottom line and speed up innovation, a recent report from continuous integration and delivery platform provider CircleCI found.

Above: Developer advocates are already at work in various roles. In May 2021, CircleCI searched LinkedIn and found 117,151 results for “developer experience” in the United States.

Image Credit: CircleCI

In a world that increasingly relies on digital products, the role of the developer is growing in importance within the business matrix. Engineering teams need a leader — a Developer Experience Engineer (DXE) — who ensures developers have the right tools, processes, and environment to maximize productivity and create the greatest business value possible, CircleCI said in its report. There is growing awareness developer velocity, productivity, and happiness are cornerstones of successful businesses, and that DXEs play an important role on development teams. Without DXE expertise, engineers spend time on maintenance and workflow optimization instead of building, which is less efficient than having a person with centralized authority handle maintenance.

Recent McKinsey research found that businesses that prioritize developer velocity have four to five times the revenue growth of their counterparts.

CircleCI identified six valuable ways a DXE can enhance developer experience — from ensuring developer flow to bringing leadership closer to engineering teams — which ultimately improves business success.

  • Gain meaningful value from talent. The average cost of a developer minute in Silicon Valley is about $1.42. That’s every minute a developer is in a seat and the meter is running, and yet somehow organizations are rife with productivity killers.
  • Developers in flow. Distractions can make or break a developer’s productivity. Everything from email and Slack to the tools developers use to build and test can take a developer out of the flow state — reducing productivity and increasing costs and toil.
  • Solving interesting problems. Developers want to work on interesting problems but often the work doesn’t meet this standard. Some of the less cutting-edge work developers are tasked with — updating plugins or investigating and fixing flaky tests — can be reduced or resolved by leveraging the right automation tools — with the expertise and direction of a DXE.
  • Ensuring work has meaning. Getting developers closer to the end customer and the challenges their product helps to solve is what connects them to the company mission. Too often, teams can lose sight of their organization’s mission and the value they deliver to their customers. Lifting developers out of daily toil by solving real and difficult challenges, helping them ship quality products faster, helps bring the team closer to the end customer, and highlights how they are helping improve the experiences and lives of their users. Everyone benefits and team satisfaction is boosted.
  • Bring buying decisions closer to the engineering team. At many organizations, tools and engineering solutions are largely decided upon by managers, are far removed from the core needs of the developers, and focused on cost rather than value. Tool decisions are made at levels removed from the engineers who use them, at the same time that an abundance of new tooling options are available. Decision paralysis may happen either way but DXEs with their experience and focus can overcome this risk. A DXE can bridge the gap between the top of the organization and developers that are doing the work, offering holistic benefits.
  • Bring leadership closer to the engineering team. Measuring and optimizing engineering velocity is the primary goal, as well as the need to capture and report on engineering success and how that maps onto business value. The leadership level benefits from having a context-switching DXE in the engineering department who will translate engineering success into business value.

CircleCI recommends that developer experience managers have these qualifications:

  • Experience managing software development teams
  • A deep understanding of modern development practices and tools
  • Ability to establish team objectives aligned to business goals
  • Is a process expert that can organize and disseminate information
  • Ability to make decisions

The report also suggests that a DXE should focus on these business outcomes:

  • Revenue growth
  • Improved end-user experience
  • Increased quality of releases
  • Engineering team efficiency

The emergence of the DXE as a standard role will unleash the power of developers across every type of organization and in every industry, promising to increase productivity, efficiency, and product quality. For organizations looking to create resilient teams, tools, and infrastructure to combat the next inevitable disruption to the industry: it starts with the DXE.

Read the full Why Developer Experience Engineers are the key to accelerating your business report from CircleCI.

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