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How to use the Developer Thriving framework to boost developer experience

Created on September 21, 2023 | Read time: ~7 minutes

Developer Thriving Framework

Today's engineering leaders stand at the crossroads of two major trends. First, they're facing an increased focus on team health and the developer experience. Second, there's pressure to increase developer productivity and find ways to do more with fewer resources. While the first trend helps recruit and keep talented devs, the second helps weather market downturns. 

But how can you maximize developer productivity without sacrificing the software developer experience? The answer: the Developer Thriving framework. 

The Developer Thriving framework builds on the connection between developer satisfaction and productivity. Below, we explain the framework and how it can supercharge your software developer teams.

Table of Contents:

What is the Developer Thriving framework?

The Developer Thriving Framework is an approach that improves team health and efficiency. It consists of five factors designed to bring out the best in developer teams. The Developer Success Lab at Pluralsight Flow created the framework after studying how devs stayed productive, worked collaboratively, and made an impact. 

Researchers at the Developer Success Lab gathered quantitative data from 1,282 developers and rich qualitative data from over 15 hours of interviews and focus groups. Our researchers used this data sample to look at developer experience from multiple angles. From this data, the team compiled insights on:

  • How developers experience their working environments

  • How learning cultures, agency, motivation, and belonging boost productivity

  • Strategies developers use to navigate these complex environments 

What is Developer thriving?

The 4 levers that drive software development productivity

The Developer Thriving framework explores what drives developer satisfaction in the first place. We tracked four key factors, or levers, to measure developer efficiency and satisfaction. Each lever adapts problem-solving and achievement theories to software development. The four factors include:

  • Agency: Developers can voice their disagreement with the team's definition of success and how their contributions should be measured.

  • Motivation and self-efficacy: Developers feel motivated while coding, can see tangible progress, work on projects they care about, and rise to challenges.

  • Learning culture: Developers learn new skills and share their findings with other team members.

  • Support and belonging: Developers feel supported by their team in growing, learning, and making mistakes while feeling accepted for who they are. 

Learn more about our Developer Thriving framework and unlock your developer team's productivity.

Visibility: Another lever to maximize developer productivity

Developer Thriving helps us understand how individual developers can flourish on their teams. But what about the engineering organization as a whole? Our research uncovered a fifth lever to maximize engineering success across organizations: visibility. When used correctly, visibility creates transparency around engineering work, allowing engineers and leadership to stay on the same page. 

Boosting visibility is a low-cost way to improve: 

  • Developer motivation and resilience: Visibility motivates developers to solve complex problems because leaders will see their work. This can raise confidence in devs who make significant contributions. 

  • Software quality and decision-making: Devs make better decisions about trade-offs and investment when they see leaders' priorities. So, devs make better software when leaders keep them in the loop and improve their decision-making. .

  • Organization strategy and developer trust with goal setting: More visibility means leaders can set realistic goals and make appropriate company-wide changes. Devs trust leaders who respect their bandwidth.

So, if visibility can revamp development, why don’t more businesses push for it? All managers in our study said they lacked the resources to advocate for their devs. Instead, they draw on their experiences to quickly decide what devs need and how they should work.

"Even though 90% of managers agreed that making teams' work visible was a key part of their job, only 24% of developers thought their managers and teammates had the right level of visibility into their work."

The two types of visibility

Organizations need to enable two types of visibility: bottom-up and top-down. While most businesses emphasize one type, you need both for full transparency. 

To help you understand how they work, here's a quick breakdown: 

  • Top-down visibility: Leadership shares objectives and business context with managers and their teams. 

  • Bottom-up visibility: Devs and managers explain their engineering work to leadership. 

Top-down visibility keeps devs and managers informed about the business's priorities. This gives them the information needed to make decisions based on high-level goals. 

Bottom-up visibility lets leaders see their teams’ work and have an open dialogue about it. This helps them assess their devs' skills and assign tasks they're best suited for while making them feel appreciated.

Visibility lever to maximize engineering success

Improving visibility means making a few key changes. Managers need to give devs credit and recognition for their hard work. Leadership should use developer experience metrics that weigh their teams’ success and inform their decision-making. Finally, organizations need to offer the space and resources for developers and managers to self-advocate. 

Download the full white paper to learn more about how to improve visibility in your organization.

How to employ healthy metrics to measure teamwork

Engineering leaders face pressure to quantify their engineering performance and communicate information in a way that's easily digestible to leaders. But this creates problems when tracking software engineering metrics demotivates engineers and makes them feel micromanaged, and the wrong metrics can be misleading. For example, tracking lines of code written doesn't show how much value your team is adding. 

Our framework found that healthy measurement of coding work benefits software teams, and that teams high in Thriving were more likely to consistently measure their software work over time. . 

Healthy measurement looks like:

  • Measures are used consistently and known across teams

  • Measures focus on engineering effort and process, not just output

  • Measures are seen as part of a “reflective cycle” that helps devs and managers grow

How to drive results from using metrics the right way

Why are healthy metrics important?

Healthy metric tracking is essential for the Developer Thriving framework. Poor use of software development KPIs frustrates teams and misinforms leaders. By contrast, healthy metrics tie directly into developer productivity and satisfaction. To help sell you on healthy metrics, here are the results we found from using KPIs the right way:

  • Satisfy business needs by encouraging a quantitative approach to team efforts.

  • Provide less biased visibility into engineering work.

  • Improve data-driven engineering objectives and MBR/QBR updates.

  • Ensure minoritized engineers get proper recognition, opportunities, and the data to advocate for themselves. 

Healthy metrics aren’t valuable because their data is the end-all-be-all of team productivity—even when they’re inconclusive, they drive improvements by starting a conversation about your processes and culture. 

Find out more about the positive impacts of tracking healthy metrics in our white paper.

Developer Thriving infographic

You might still have a few questions about the Developer Thriving framework, so we put together an infographic summarizing our research team's key learnings. 

Download and share the infographic with your engineering teams and leadership so you can all enjoy the benefits of better developer experiences and productivity.

Developer Thriving Infographic

Amplify your software development teams with Pluralsight Flow

How Flow helps increase visibility & enable healthy engineering measurement

Developer Thriving uses the connection between developer satisfaction and productivity to improve both. Whether you manage a team or lead an organization, this framework retains your top talent and keeps your ROI steady. Why choose between satisfied and productive teams when you can have the best of both worlds? 

If you aren’t sure how to measure developer productivity or need help implementing the Developer Thriving framework, Flow can help. Flow tracks metrics central to your software delivery process and diagnoses productivity issues. You can also use Flow to measure your team's performance under any framework to compare results.

Schedule a demo today and take the first step toward implementing developer experience best practices.

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