The future is all about people…
so make sure software developers are part of it
It was late 90s, the era of .coms and “e-everything” and yours truly was a Computer Science student admiring a bunch of nerdy guys who were creating cool stuff like a web-browser (Netscape in particular) or an electronic (not digital, it wasn’t a cool term at that time) bookstore (Amazon of course). In our university professors were telling us how important technology is, how it’s going to change everything, that we are the elite of the elite since we know how to program computers. No one was talking about how we as people should do our job well, or what are the prerequisites of doing so happily (or at least with a certain level of satisfaction…).
And one day I saw this Wired issue that striked me. “The future is all about people” it said, and I was “yeah, right … what matters is to apply technology correctly”. Almost twenty years after that, my 20-years old self would like to apologise to you all.
Not only the future is all about people, but most importantly it is (and will be) created by people for people.
And in the forefront of this creation, it’s the software developers who are in the mission of transforming the needs of the physical world into their digital counterparts or by inventing new products and services we haven’t thought of before.
But do these people who are fundamentally responsible for implementing our world’s digital vision get the attention they deserve? Do companies help their software developers excel and realize prophesied potentials? I firmly believe the answer here is not a satisfactory one.
For instance, take a look at the table below from the paper of Graziotin et al. which indicates that software developers are a slightly happy population but still there is lots of room for improvement in order to decrease their unhappiness. There, you can find the 10 most significant causes of software developers’ unhappiness.
Not surprisingly, at least for me, time pressure, bad code quality and coding practices are in the top 3 of the list. Now let’s take a look on the results presented in our survey conducted together with O’Reilly Media:
- Almost 75% of software developers recognise that code quality is their responsibility but only a few recognise the accountability for it,
- Organisations are not dedicating resources or not exhibiting the right level of commitment to help their software developers delivering high-quality code using a consistent, empirical methodology.
- Software developers are simply not aware of available tools or are working on teams that have never used them. And we’re seriously suspecting that institutional inertia might be the main culprit here.
Combining then, all these results we may say that in order to make developers happy in the future, organisations need to empower them. And we’re not talking about monetary aspects here. Merely we mean that organisations need to enable their developers to improve and grow.
For instance, they should train them for improving their coding skills, or give them time and budget to automate their testing processes and finally configure this server that will allow them to easily deploy new functionality and make it available for their business.
Now, if you’re a manager who reads this post and you want a business case for code quality then we have a number for you. Our research at SIG (based on academic as well as industry data points) over multiple years has indicated that a team of software developers who know how to write great quality codecan be 66% more productive in either shipping new functionality or fixing a bug, in comparison to a team who has sub-optimal coding skills (Bijlsma et al. “Faster issue resolution with higher technical quality of software”, Software Quality Journal, June 2012, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 265–285).
And probably it’s not a coincidence, that clients of ours that have a high retention rate for their software developers (and also score high in satisfaction surveys) are the ones who pay attention to code quality and coding activities.
But are we there yet? As said, not but at least things are moving. At SIG we say that “ Software is the DNA of our modern society“ so we better pay attention to those creating it then.
And if you want to leave this post with a recommendation in mind:
Software developers need to be taken care of and rest assured that they will return the favor.
This blog was also published on Medium by Yiannis Kanellopoulos