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What Makes Developers Productive?

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programmer's hands on a keyboard in front of a display, illustration

Few things are less productive than work that is thrown away.

Credit: Zight

Many ingredients go into developer productivity. Some are obvious and easy to measure. But we tend to miss other important factors, perhaps because they are hard to directly measure. For example, no system collects a number that shows how well each developer understands the system they work on. It's impossible to directly measure the things that happen inside a developer's head. If you only measure the output (productivity), that data won't tell you what is missing (e.g. documentation).

It might be hard to find a clear metric for some factors that hurt productivity, but it is still worthwhile to ensure that you don't have problems in these areas.

You can't necessarily build a dashboard to measure all of the factors, but any developer could tell you which are currently impacting their productivity. Fixing those problems could dramatically increase how much gets done. Some of the problems can be shockingly easy to fix.

From Jeremy's Blog
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