3 Best Practices for Better DevEx Maximizing Testing Utilization
Explore DevEx key elements: understanding developer needs, creating frictionless work environments, and encouraging innovation through streamlining, automation. + see how AI test optimization can help you deploy higher-quality code faster
December 12, 2022
3 Best Practices for Better DevEx Maximizing Testing Utilization
User experience has taken center stage as a way of fostering loyalty to your brand and its products or services. But user experience isn’t enough. There’s another group of people you need on your side whose loyalty can make or break the future of your company: developers.
What kind of experience are developers having within your organization? Are you taking steps to build loyalty through a deep understanding and appreciation of their needs, abilities, and limitations?
Why Improve Your Developers’ Experience?
Great tech talent is harder than ever to attract and retain, and more expensive: HR experts say it costs up to 3X a position’s salary to bring in someone new. If you don’t invest in developer experience, you’re missing out the opportunity to nurture and support the talent you already have on board.
Just as great user experience is all about good design, usability, effectiveness, and efficiency—which translates to retention and profitability in all kinds of ways—great developer experience brings in a lot of the same concepts, with many similar benefits.
You’re giving programmers easy access to the tools or resources they need so that they can apply their expertise with as few speed bumps as possible.
In today’s software development world, developer experience can be a win-win, paying off almost immediately in a few clear ways:
Speed: Increase developer productivity and release velocity.
Quality: Improve code, reduce bugs, and improve security.
Efficiency: Reduce revisiting old features and pull requests.
Innovation: Encourage creativity and experimentation to stay competitive.
All of this will have a positive impact on your bottom line. Plus, prioritizing developer experience helps keep your dev and DevOps teams safe from burnout, reducing turnover and saving you money in some less obvious ways as well.
3 Ways to Get Started Improving Developer Experience
You’ve probably heard at least some of this before. In fact, if you’re like most organizations, you’ve likely already started taking steps toward improving developer experience.
But you’re under pressure from all directions. You have other priorities, like pursuing the next great feature or achieving other major strategic goals. So building developer experience into your existing processes and maintaining it the way you should often gets pushed down the stack.
To help you make developer experience a top priority, let’s look at three best practices you can start putting in place today to improve your developers’ experience and start enjoying all of these powerful payoffs. And as you’ll see, even incremental steps will probably pay off in the short and long term.
In Google’s 2021 State of DevOps Report, only about 25% of respondents said they had good-quality documentation. Yet teams with higher quality documentation are 2.4 times more likely to see better software delivery and operational (SDO) performance.
Documentation must be a single source of truth for developers. It lets them move forward without wasting time on research or needing to ask for help; instead they can access the information they need independently.
It’s also crucial to maintaining institutional knowledge, protecting you from knowledge loss with staff churn, which is inevitable. And it lets you revisit older projects that even long-standing team members may not recall clearly.
Documentation on its own is not enough. For your documentation to be great, it must be…
Well-organized and easy to navigate (think chapter headings and subheads)
Thorough, complete, up-to-date and comprehensive
Full of practical examples that developers can use
Easy to read, clearly written, and understandable
Kept updated as you make changes (hint: scan it for broken and recursive links)
Excellent search functionality is not optional—for your documentation to work at its best, developers must get what they need with minimal exploration, and a quick search should provide fruitful results.
You will see a payoff from investing in documentation. GitHub reported in its 2021 annual State of the Octoverse report that “developers see about a 50% productivity boost when documentation is up to date, detailed, reliable, and comes in different formats (e.g. articles, videos, forums).”
Great documentation will save developer time and energy, cut frustration, let new team members onboard more easily, and avoid errors and misunderstandings.
You don’t have to be perfect right out of the starting gate! According to Google, “Any improvement in documentation quality has a positive and direct impact on performance.” Start small. Assess what you already have and where you need to go. And start building, a little at a time.
2. Developer-Centered Workflows
McKinsey reports that one major SaaS provider gained a 10 to 20% increase in developer productivity simply by rolling out a new developer experience program that focused on “creating a usable design that addresses the real needs of developers.” They also achieved a critical-incident reduction of 20%, and 15 to 20% fewer security vulnerabilities.
Why You Need It
Better workflows streamline time-consuming and manual tasks, creating a higher standard and quality of code, improving the organization as a whole.
According to the aforementioned McKinsey report, developer-centered workflows reduce handovers and improve coordination between teams, provide early feedback thus eliminating rework (such as through earlier testing), and pave the way for automation and ML throughout the SDLC.
And yet many organizations are continuing to simply do things “as they’ve always been done.” In fact, it’s possible to shift to more developer-centered workflows without major disruption to your existing environment.
Doing It Right
Best-practice workflows need to incorporate a number of essential elements…
Change information: Automatic updates from pull request queue and continuous integration so that developers can move quickly without spending their time on organizational operations.
Better testing earlier: Enabling developers to write tests and move quickly can ensure earlier and more thorough testing.
No breaking changes: When tests are run before the merge, developers will be less likely to encounter bugs introduced by other developers.
Automation and orchestration: Accelerating developers’ workflows using CI: linting, testing, deployment, Slack notifications for test results, and more, to make everything they do that much more intuitive.
When workflows are streamlined and optimized around developer needs, you can orchestrate tasks and resources more effectively, saving time and money and ensuring a more secure, better-quality product.
3. Freedom of Tools
Letting teams make their own decisions about tools and implementations leads to better software delivery performance. According to DevOps.com, “When organizational leaders empower their developers, they in turn find their product teams are more productive and feel more tied to the organization as well as their customers and each other... what is best for developers is best for the organization at large.”
Why You Need It
Top talent won’t put up with tools that reinforce bad practices, according to a McKinsey article. “Leading organizations focus on eliminating as many barriers as possible for their top coders,” like ensuring that over 80% of testing is automated and continuous.
Morale and productivity soar when developers feel that their experience and expertise is trusted and appreciated.
More and more, he writes, companies are trusting developers to adopt tools that not only help them fulfill their core engineering job, but that are also “beloved”; meaning they allow the developer to achieve and remain in flow, the state of energized focus and enjoyment when they can code at their best.
Using a prescribed toolset can feel constraining and add a learning curve; intrusive tools can also add to tool fatigue, unnecessary alerts, and task-switching, which all cut productivity. Preferred tools can keep developers in a flow state for longer, leading to less frustration.
Plus, the best tools support other best practices, like deployment automation, integrated testing, and streamlined scaling.
Doing It Right
This best practice starts with listening. Sit down with your team and hear them out; listen carefully to their needs—including what’s working and what isn’t in their current tooling.
Developer freedom also includes accommodating a variety of coding languages and architectures; and with great documentation in place, it will all work perfectly together. Given the choice, most developers will choose tools that simplify their tasks, integrate seamlessly with other tools, and support existing workflows.
Giving developers choices is essential—after all, they’re the ones who need to use these tools every single day. But there’s no trade-off; empowering developers is a win-win, as many organizations have seen translated into better productivity and release KPIs.
Frictionless Workflows That Foster Excellence
Focusing on user experience is important to improve loyalty and increase lifetime revenue. But don’t forget to make developer experience a top priority as well, supporting your team to do their best work. The payoff is potentially just as high, if not higher.
Great developer experience involves understanding developer goals, identifying their pain points, and finding solutions that meet their goals.
Then you can start building environments that facilitate developers’ needs while working within your existing organizational stack and processes. Great DevEx can remove friction from their workflows, fostering excellence across your entire SDLC and spurring every team member to innovate and excel.
When you choose tools that support developers through the best practices explored here—streamlining development, incorporating automation, and allowing developers freedom of choice—you’ll be taking one giant step toward future-proofing your business.
Empower your developers with AI test optimization to deploy higher-quality code faster. Ensure you’re running the tests that matter, and get real-time test results.