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New research from Software Improvement Group measures pandemic impact on software development, reveals effects on developers’ well-being and productivity

24 June 2021

New research from Software Improvement Group measures pandemic impact on software development, reveals effects on developers’ well-being and productivity

Based on nearly 50 billion lines of code across 280+ technologies, the 2021 SIG Benchmark Report reveals improved software build quality worldwide; results from a new study on developers’ pandemic job performance and satisfaction; and impact of ROI-focused technical debt reduction strategies.

Amsterdam, June 24, 2021 – Software Improvement Group (SIG), the independent global authority on software assurance, published today the findings of its third annual Benchmark Report on the state of the global software industry. The report is based on the company’s analysis of nearly 50 billion lines of code across more than 280 technologies, taken from more than 6,000 system assessments worldwide in every major sector.

Less code created during the pandemic, but at higher average build quality level
The 2021 SIG Benchmark Report revealed a decreasing trend for average coding effort throughout the pandemic. At the same time, the overall build quality of code continued an upward trend across all industries and technology stacks. However, data also shows a noticeable decline in build quality performance in the fourth quarter of 2020, possibly caused by the effects of long-term remote work, as discussed elsewhere in the report. According to the report:

Systems monitored by the SIG Sigrid® software assurance platform showed on average a 37% lower coding effort during the pandemic year compared to the previous year. At the same time, however, these systems demonstrated on average a slightly increased maintainability score, the core metric for software build quality. This is largely due to the nature of software becoming easier to change, more modular, and smaller.”

Developers report drop in productivity, job performance
Among the additional highlights of this year’s Benchmark Report were findings from a new joint study by SIG and Leiden University on how the massive shift to remote work has affected software engineers. The study surveyed hundreds of developers across the globe, not necessarily working on systems monitored by Sigrid, to understand how they are coping in home work environments, impacts on their well-being and job performance, and support measures provided by their employers. According to the report:

“The number of developers who reported they weren’t productive for at least some of their time, due to the pandemic, has more than doubled to 60%. Furthermore, developers report working less carefully and with less concentration during the pandemic, indicating two times more often that their work should have been of higher quality. This may explain the decline in software build quality in the last quarter of 2020.

The 2021 SIG Benchmark Report also covers the following topics:

Magiel Bruntink, Head of Research, SIG: “We’re pleased to see that, despite the pandemic, software build quality continues to improve globally, across all industries and technology stacks. However, the report also indicates software engineers’ decreasing productivity and job satisfaction, signaling areas where organizations can improve to ensure productive, satisfied development teams for building and maintaining future-proof capabilities.”

Luc Brandts, CEO, SIG: “For the last three years, SIG has produced the Benchmark Report to provide a comprehensive picture of the state of software development worldwide. While each year brings a set of new challenges, this past year was clearly unlike any other. The new post-pandemic reality will require organizations to leverage healthy software in accelerating digital transformation, and our goal with this year’s edition is to provide them with insights they can apply directly in their own operations to further advance their digital health.”

Request complimentary access to the report.

About SIG
Software Improvement Group (SIG) helps organizations trust the technology they depend on. We combine our intelligent technology with our human expertise to dig deep into the build quality of enterprise software and architecture – measuring, monitoring, and benchmarking it against the world’s largest software analysis database.

The SIG software analysis laboratory is the only one in the world accredited according to ISO/IEC 17025 for software quality analysis. Founded in 2000, SIG is headquartered in Amsterdam, with offices in New York, Copenhagen, Antwerp and Frankfurt.

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