Jun 13 • 49M

Software at Scale 58 - Measuring Developer Productivity with Abi Noda

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Software at Scale is where we discuss the technical stories behind large software applications.
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Abi Noda is the CEO and co-founder of DX, a developer productivity platform.

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My view on developer experience and productivity measurement aligns extremely closely with DX’s view. The productivity of a group of engineers cannot be measured by tools alone - there’s too many qualitative factors like cross-functional stakeholder beuracracy or inefficiency, and inherent domain/codebase complexity that cannot be measured by tools. At the same time, there are some metrics, like whether an engineer has committed any code-changes in their first week/month, that serve as useful guardrails for engineering leadership. A combination of tools and metrics may provide the holistic view and insights into the engineering organization’s throughput.

In this episode, we discuss the DX platform, and Abi’s recently published research paper on developer experience. We talk about how organizations can use tools and surveys to iterate and improve upon developer experience, and ultimately, engineering throughput.

GPT-4 generated summary

In this episode, Abi Noda and I explore the landscape of engineering metrics and a quantifiable approach towards developer experience. Our discussion goes from the value of developer surveys and system-based metrics to the tangible ways in which DX is innovating the field.

We initiate our conversation with a comparison of developer surveys and system-based metrics. Abi explains that while developer surveys offer a qualitative perspective on tool efficacy and user sentiment, system-based metrics present a quantitative analysis of productivity and code quality.

The discussion then moves to the real-world applications of these metrics, with Pfizer and eBay as case studies. Pfizer, for example, uses a model where they employ metrics for a detailed understanding of developer needs, subsequently driving strategic decision-making processes. They have used these metrics to identify bottlenecks in their development cycle, and strategically address these pain points. eBay, on the other hand, uses the insights from developer sentiment surveys to design tools that directly enhance developer satisfaction and productivity.

Next, our dialogue around survey development centered on the dilemma between standardization and customization. While standardization offers cost efficiency and benchmarking opportunities, customization acknowledges the unique nature of every organization. Abi proposes a blend of both to cater to different aspects of developer sentiment and productivity metrics.

The highlight of the conversation was the introduction of DX's innovative data platform. The platform consolidates data across internal and third-party tools in a ready-to-analyze format, giving users the freedom to build their queries, reports, and metrics. The ability to combine survey and system data allows the unearthing of unique insights, marking a distinctive advantage of DX's approach.

In this episode, Abi Noda shares enlightening perspectives on engineering metrics and the role they play in shaping the developer experience. We delve into how DX's unique approach to data aggregation and its potential applications can lead organizations toward more data-driven and effective decision-making processes.