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6 key ways to improve developer productivity

Unproductive dev teams aren't necessarily staffed by unskilled or unmotivated workers. Give developers a boost with these concrete strategies, not strict mandates or inspirational posters.

While vendors and thought leaders claim to have the panacea to developers' struggles, it's unlikely that a cookie-cutter plan or singular tool can solve all dev productivity concerns. Enterprise development teams should follow a multipronged approach to get developers producing quality code, and lots of it.

The factors that improve developer productivity range from role planning to collaboration with QA peers, the vendor tools in use, methodology choices and changes, and even extracurricular activities. Determine what works best for your team with these six tips from industry experts who write for SearchSoftwareQuality.

Plan a sprint perfectly

Agile development projects start with sprint planning. Agile teams can boost developer productivity with well-planned sprints, but variables among employees and software's users make that planning process easier said than done.

Set an agenda or checklist for Agile sprint planning meetings to reduce disruptions over the course of the project. Agile team members and leaders must understand the project's user stories and what is feasible within the given timelines. Amy Reichert, a QA lead, breaks down how to approach sprint planning to keep developers on track.

Keep developers and testers happy

When developers and testers struggle to communicate, stress builds up and productivity goes down.Team leads should promote collaboration and communication between the two sides.

Ultimately, developers and testers both want their input heard on elements such as app design. Try to eliminate any impasse and contention between the two sides. Reichert explains how and why an IT organization should bridge the gap and restore dev productivity, even when it feels like a big task, and neither side wants to cede too much control.

Use app development tools with AI

As AI-powered app development tools emerge, they create a soupy mix of hype and real promise. AI-based tool features can improve developer productivity -- at least on some level.

Developer tools with AI-based functionality can reduce repetitious coding -- and even boost code quality in the process. Consultant Tom Nolle writes about how vendors peddle AI-powered features, particularly in in IDEs and code repositories. Additionally, he explains how AI can offer software testers help with quality assurance.

Shift left -- with limits

Many experts consider burnout a primary opponent to developer productivity. Developers can only do so much, even as IT organizations increasingly shift QA and security tasks left, meaning into earlier parts of the SDLC.

Journalist George Lawton asked professionals across the software development industry about how to shift left sanely. He explores how developers strike a balance between existing tasks and new responsibilities. Teams can resolve many of these issues with trust and communication.

Take up low-code tools

Low-code tools offer professional developers unique productivity benefits.

When developers use low-code tools for dull, time-consuming bits of programming, their productivity improves, as they can spend more time on feature creation. There are many ways IT professionals can use low-code platforms to quickly complete simple or low-importance initiatives, freeing them up for the creative and mission-critical tasks.

Don't work harder

How do you define developer productivity? Long hours, a to-do list with a million checked boxes? Hard work and productivity are not synonymous.

Team-building exercises can boost morale, impart new skills and foster collaboration among team members. Activities such as hackathons, game days and Friday projects can boost developer productivity over the long run as much as an additional day of work -- if not more. Lawton details several successful team-building initiatives that delivered results for IT organizations.

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