What is Developer Productivity and How to Improve it?

Learn what developer productivity is and its importance, and understand the metrics used to measure developer productivity to avoid dev burnout.
Developer Productivity

Software development costs an estimated 63% of a project’s budget, making developers and their work performances a centre point of executive discussions. Initially, organizations resorted to a more mechanical approach of locating the work done by their devs- through average lines of code written or bugs fixed per day. However, the metrics don't convey the full picture of software development lifecycle. 

Teams with high productivity and process efficiency have taken a more provocative approach by focusing on the ‘how’ of development- the developer behavior, collaboration patterns, code reviews, and team dynamics. Identifying and eliminating bottlenecks helps the team work on their core competencies and be more productive.

What is Developer Productivity?

It is difficult to visualize developer productivity in isolation. In the most broader terms, it is the amount of quality and reliable software developed efficiently by an engineering team. Most teams track it via assessing different metrics that indicate how well a team of developers performs against predetermined goals. These include time-to-completion, bug rate, developer experience, code coverage, and team collaboration.

Development processes can be evaluated based on those outcomes; however, they do not help manage developer productivity. Forsgren et. al’s SPACE framework, or Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) provides a practical and multidimensional viewpoint into developer productivity and proposes a new approach to defining, measuring and predicting it. The focus of all these approaches is developing and releasing software quickly while reducing the time to value and increasing return on investment.

Why Developer Productivity Metric is Important?

Developer productivity refers to the efficiency and effectiveness of software developers in completing their tasks and delivering high-quality code. It plays a crucial role in the success of software development projects and the overall performance of a software development team. There are several reasons why developer productivity metrics are essential:

1. Time and Cost Efficiency:

Improving developer productivity can significantly reduce the time required to develop and deliver software products. When developers can work efficiently and complete tasks promptly, it leads to faster project completion and shorter time-to-market. This, in turn, can result in cost savings for the organization.

2. Quality and Reliability:

Engineering for efficiency emphasizes speed and the quality of the code produced. By improving productivity, developers have more time and focus on writing clean, well-tested code that is less prone to bugs and issues. This leads to higher-quality, more reliable software and less likely to require extensive debugging or maintenance.

3. Team Collaboration and Satisfaction:

A productive developer team can effectively collaborate and work together. By improving productivity, developers can streamline their workflows, reduce bottlenecks, and enhance communication and collaboration within the team. This fosters a positive work environment, increases job satisfaction, and promotes teamwork, ultimately leading to better outcomes for the organization.

4. Meeting Project Deadlines:

Developer productivity metrics are essential for tracking progress and ensuring that projects stay on schedule. By having clear productivity metrics in place, teams can identify potential delays or issues early on and take necessary actions to address them. This allows for better project planning and enables teams to meet their deadlines consistently.

5. Innovation and Continuous Improvement:

Improving developer productivity also frees up time for developers to explore new technologies, learn new skills, and innovate. When developers have the bandwidth to experiment and think creatively, they can develop innovative solutions and drive continuous improvement in their work processes. This can lead to better products and competitive advantages in the market.

How to Measure Developer Productivity?

Global Code Time Report shows that only 10% of developers code for 2 hours per day, while 40% of them may spend around an hour per day coding. It is a clear indicator that managers cannot accurately calculate developer productivity based on the lines of code written in a day.

DevProd shouldn't be limited to outdated performance metrics. Instead, it is a holistic approach that factors work quality, customer feedback, collaboration, and flexibility. The aim is to identify and eliminate bottlenecks in the development process to boost developer performance. A Microsoft survey results show that developers report 49.4% output on good days. They can make significant progress on their coding tasks when working uninterrupted. A holistic approach would be to minimize interruptions for the engineering teams.

Additionally, a single metric cannot ensure the reliability and quality of the output. Therefore, it is essential to observe multiple indicators and focus on outcomes when assessing the productivity of engineering teams. We have mentioned the productivity metrics that you should analyze to build an effective DevOps Maturity Model and avoid dev burnout:

1. Deployment Frequency

Deployment frequency is a key metric of high developer productivity that measures how often code changes are deployed to production environments. It reflects the agility and speed of software development teams in delivering new features, bug fixes, and improvements.

A high deployment frequency indicates a fast-paced development cycle, enabling rapid feedback loops and continuous delivery.

This metric encourages efficient collaboration, shorter release cycles, and the ability to adapt quickly to changing user needs and market demands.

Deployment Frequency from DORA Metrics dashboard - Hatica

2. Lead Time

Lead time is a crucial metric in measuring high developer productivity. It represents the time taken from the initiation of a task or feature request to its completion and delivery. A shorter lead time indicates efficient and agile development processes.

For example, if a software development team consistently delivers new features to production within a week of receiving requirements, their lead time is commendably short, reflecting their ability to swiftly convert ideas into functioning code.

3. Cycle Time

Cycle time is an important way to measure how productive developers are because it shows how long it takes from the first commit to production.

Longer cycle times indicate potential obstacles hindering progress and can lead to burnout or missed targets.

In our Engineering Metrics Benchmarks study, elite development teams exhibited cycle times of under 48 hours, which correlated with smaller pull request sizes, a robust review process, and frequent deployments.

developer cycle time

4. Team Well-being

Teams with such elite cycle times deliver features predictably and with higher quality. When people on a team are both mentally and physically healthy, they can do their best work and make good contributions to projects.

Team well-being is affected by things like a helpful work environment, a good mix between work and personal life, chances for professional growth, and good communication within the team.

Prioritizing the well-being of a team creates an environment where people are happy and willing to work together. This leads to more motivation, creativity, and total output.

Developer productivity well being dashboard

5. Velocity

Velocity is a metric used to measure developer productivity in software development projects. It quantifies the rate at which features or user stories are completed within a given timeframe.

A higher velocity indicates increased productivity and efficiency, as more work is accomplished in less time.

Velocity is often tracked in Agile methodologies like Scrum and can be used to plan future iterations and project timelines.

6. Change Failure Rate

Change failure rate is a metric that measures the percentage of software changes or updates that result in failure or errors during implementation. It reflects the effectiveness of a development team in delivering reliable and stable code.

A low change failure rate indicates high developer productivity, as it suggests a successful implementation of changes with minimal issues or bugs.

7. Time to restore service

Time to restore DORA metric refers to the time taken to recover and bring service back to normal after a disruption or outage.

A lower time to restore service indicates efficient problem-solving, effective debugging, and rapid deployment of fixes.

By minimizing downtime and swiftly resolving issues, developers demonstrate their ability to maintain service availability and enhance overall productivity.

8. Developer Satisfaction

When developers are satisfied with their work environment, tools, and resources, they are more motivated and engaged.

A positive work atmosphere, opportunities for growth, and clear communication channels contribute to developer satisfaction.

Additionally, recognizing and rewarding their contributions, providing work-life balance, and fostering a culture of collaboration and autonomy can significantly enhance satisfaction levels.

Ultimately, satisfied developers are more likely to deliver high-quality work and contribute to increased productivity.

Strategies to Improve Developer Productivity

To enhance developer productivity, whether as a developer or a team manager, implementing strategies that enable accomplishing more with existing resources and time is crucial. Here are tips to boost productivity for businesses and developers alike without the need for additional hires. Measuring developer productivity can be challenging, but these insights aim to help create greater value for customers and shareholders while enabling developers to produce high-quality work they can be proud of.

1. Work Within Existing Workflows

It is important to work within existing workflows to improve developer productivity. By streamlining processes and integrating tools that align with developers' established routines, efficiency can be maximized.

Also, providing comprehensive documentation and resources within the workflow can enhance productivity by reducing the time spent searching for information.

Encouraging effective communication and collaboration within the team can also foster a more productive environment. Three key points to improve engineering productivity within existing workflows:

  • Streamline processes and integrate tools that align with established routines.
  • Provide comprehensive documentation and resources within the workflow.
  • Promote effective communication and collaboration within the team.

These solutions let developers work faster and more productively without disturbing their processes.

2. Decouple From Other Developer Workstreams

Another way to enhance engineering productivity is by decoupling from other developer workstreams. This involves minimizing dependencies and ensuring that each developer can work independently on their assigned tasks.

For example, in a web development project, if the frontend and backend developers are tightly coupled, any delays or issues on one side can affect the other's progress.

Each developer can operate autonomously by separating their work streams and creating explicit interfaces, increasing productivity and development speed.

3. Focus on Developer Experience

Improving dev productivity can be achieved by focusing on enhancing the developer experience. This involves providing developers with the necessary tools, resources, and support to streamline their workflow and eliminate unnecessary hurdles.

Simplifying development processes, automating repetitive tasks, and promoting collaboration through effective communication channels can significantly boost productivity.

Furthermore, investing in training and skill development programs can empower developers to stay updated with the latest technologies and methodologies.

Prioritizing a positive developer experience leads to increased motivation, efficiency, and the ability to deliver high-quality work in a timely manner.

4. Avoid Multitasking

Multitasking can be counterproductive in software development. When developers try to juggle multiple tasks at once, it often leads to distractions and decreased efficiency. Here’s why avoiding multitasking is crucial:

Reduced Focus: Constantly switching between tasks breaks concentration. Each time a developer shifts from one task to another, they need time to refocus, which can slow down progress and lead to errors.

Increased Errors: When attention is divided among multiple tasks, the likelihood of making mistakes increases. These mistakes can be costly and time-consuming to correct.

Time-Consuming: Multitasking often involves backtracking. Developers may need to revisit where they left off, which consumes valuable time and hampers productivity.

Peer Reviews: Developers often need to review their peers' code while working on their projects. If they switch between these tasks frequently, it disrupts their workflow and impacts the quality of both the review and their work.

Instead of multitasking, encourage developers to focus on one task at a time. Prioritize tasks based on urgency and importance, and allocate dedicated time blocks for each. This approach helps maintain a steady workflow, reduces errors, and ultimately enhances productivity and efficiency.

5. Master Your IDE

An Integrated Development Environment (IDE) offers a range of tools in one place, making development easier and more efficient. It’s important to ensure your developers know how to use the IDE well. If they don’t understand its features, it can slow them down and hurt productivity.

Here’s how to make the most of your IDE:

Training: Make sure developers are trained to use the IDE efficiently. This helps them navigate and use its features without confusion.

Plugins and Snippets: Use plugins and snippets to boost productivity. Snippets save time by handling repetitive code, and plugins like syntax highlighting help spot errors quickly.

Automation: A good IDE can automate many tasks, like indentation, refactoring, and autocomplete. This reduces the manual work developers have to do, allowing them to focus on more important tasks.

By mastering their IDE, developers can work faster and more effectively, making their jobs easier and more productive.

9 Features of Highly Productive Developers Team

Collecting measurements of current processes, performances, and outcomes is essential to growing a business. However, it is equally vital for engineering teams to understand their performance. Research shows that 89.2% of developers say productivity can be measured using good metrics, and 92.1% wish to know how productive they have been.

Signs of high developer productivity

Great developer teams bring in cognitive psychology and behavioral economics to maintain high productivity. Google’s Tech Lead Manager of Engineer Productivity Research, Ciera Jaspen, says measuring metrics is expensive yet important. They have designed the Goals/Signals/Metrics (GSM) framework to assess desirable attributes when calculating productivity of engineering teams. Common attributes found across highly productive teams are:

1. Low cycle time:

Cycle time is the time taken from the initiation of a task to its completion. Efficient teams maintain low cycle times by making decisions quickly and delivering tasks on time. 

2. Distributed workload:

A team consists of people with different skills and capabilities. Teams distribute workload to ensure the right job is assigned to the right person. As a result, all tasks are efficiently completed while preventing dev burnouts.

3. Lower change failure rate:

The change failure rate is the percentage of changes that do not produce the desired results. Elite engineering teams use analytics and predictive modeling techniques to identify potential points of failure proactively.

4. Faster lead time:

Lead time is the total time taken to complete a task from initiation until final delivery. Implementing cycle times helps teams ensure tasks are completed efficiently and on time.

5. Clear sprint planning:

Sprint planning is the practice of setting up tasks for a specific period. Elite teams use the agile project management approach to break down tasks and assign them to the right people. It ensures that each task has a clearly defined timeline and that resources are allocated appropriately.

6. Async tasks:

41.1% of developers say “waiting for other people to do stuff” impacts their productivity on a typical work day. Asynchronous development among engineering teams eliminates the need for team members to be in constant communication with each other during the entire development process. Instead, the approach allows developers to concentrate on their own tasks and then coordinate during integration.

7. Deep work:

Elite teams facilitate deep work by allowing developers to focus on coding for uninterrupted hours. The team distributes and structures creative tasks in specific blocks of time. Staying free from distractions, such as email notifications, unplanned meetings, and phone calls, allows developers to get into a state of flow and achieve meaningful progress in less time.

8. Robust generative culture:

High-performing teams create and nurture an environment of finding innovative solutions to complex problems. They prioritize exploring unconventional ways of tackling tasks. All voices are heard and respected by creating a safe space for experimentation.

9. Low burnout:

The best engineering teams focus on preventing burnout. They recognize the warning signs early on and take proactive steps to reduce developer stress levels. Setting realistic goals and prioritizing tasks makes their workload manageable while reducing overwhelming feelings of exhaustion, anxiety, and demotivation.

How Hatica Can Improve Developer Productivity

Building a highly productive engineering team involves the right mix of skills, tasks, culture, and timelines. Creating a collaborative environment that values stress-free deadlines, encourages innovation, and rewards performance helps improve developer productivity.

An engineering analytics tool, like Hatica, provides visibility into the engineering metrics, workflow milestones, to evaluate and assess project progress. It can also be used to boost team productivity through insights on bottlenecks and efficiency drivers.

High developer productivity with Hatica

The standard Hatica dashboard helps team managers create a people-led workflow through analyzing engineering analytics. Hatica helps engineering leaders deliver higher customer value with a quicker lead time for changes and a lower change failure rate while increasing deployment frequency.


How can I create a productive work environment for developers?

To make the work environment productive for developers, providing them with a comfortable workspace and access to necessary tools and resources, establishing clear communication channels, encouraging knowledge sharing and collaboration, offering professional development opportunities, and providing a healthy work-life balance are essential.

How can I track and improve developer productivity in remote or distributed teams?

In remote or distributed teams, tracking developer productivity can be achieved through the use of project management tools, version control systems, and collaboration platforms. Regular virtual meetings, transparent progress tracking, and clear communication channels help ensure alignment, provide support, and address any productivity challenges.

What role does effective task prioritization play in developer productivity?

Effective task prioritization is crucial for developer productivity. By prioritizing tasks based on their importance, urgency, and dependencies, developers can focus on high-value activities, avoid wasting time on low-priority tasks, and ensure they are working on the most critical aspects of a project.

Transform your engineering team into a results-driven high-performing DevProd unit with Hatica. Book a free Hatica demo today!

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Table of Contents
  • What is Developer Productivity?
  • Why Developer Productivity Metric is Important?
  • 1. Time and Cost Efficiency:
  • 2. Quality and Reliability:
  • 3. Team Collaboration and Satisfaction:
  • 4. Meeting Project Deadlines:
  • 5. Innovation and Continuous Improvement:
  • How to Measure Developer Productivity?
  • 1. Deployment Frequency
  • 2. Lead Time
  • 3. Cycle Time
  • 4. Team Well-being
  • 5. Velocity
  • 6. Change Failure Rate
  • 7. Time to restore service
  • 8. Developer Satisfaction
  • Strategies to Improve Developer Productivity
  • 1. Work Within Existing Workflows
  • 2. Decouple From Other Developer Workstreams
  • 3. Focus on Developer Experience
  • 4. Avoid Multitasking
  • 5. Master Your IDE
  • 9 Features of Highly Productive Developers Team
  • 1. Low cycle time:
  • 2. Distributed workload:
  • 3. Lower change failure rate:
  • 4. Faster lead time:
  • 5. Clear sprint planning:
  • 6. Async tasks:
  • 7. Deep work:
  • 8. Robust generative culture:
  • 9. Low burnout:
  • How Hatica Can Improve Developer Productivity
  • FAQs
  • How can I create a productive work environment for developers?
  • How can I track and improve developer productivity in remote or distributed teams?
  • What role does effective task prioritization play in developer productivity?

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Overview dashboard from Hatica