Developer Productivity: A Bigger Constraint to Innovation than Capital

Geoff Stevens
November 13, 2018

[ TL;DR ]

  • Executives claim that access to skilled developers is a bigger constraint to innovation than access to capital
  • Developers feel they spend excessive time on code maintenance and technical debt, which hampers productivity

Stripe recently released its report The Developer Coefficient asking both C-level executives and developers to identify the largest constraints to innovation. The takeaway: executives worry more about finding skilled developers than they do capital, with 53% identifying access to software talent as a major constraint and 52% identifying capital.

It’s also about productivity

If you dig a little deeper, you’ll realize that access isn’t the only problem. Both management and developers see huge gains to be made in productivity:

  • 96%: the number of C-level executives that believe increasing developer productivity is high or medium priority.
  • 68.4%: how productive on average developers believe they are as a whole, 100% being perfectly productive.

Per the report, “developers [are] force-multipliers: It’s not how many devs companies have; it’s how they’re being leveraged.

Lost time adds up

Many companies have incorrectly attributed their technology woes to a lack of developer talent.

How so? The average developer spends 17.3 hours each week dealing with technical debt, bad code, and maintenance jobs, like debugging and refactoring. That’s a 31.6% efficiency impact that equates to an estimated nearly $300B loss in global annual GDP, which is equivalent to the entire GDP of Pakistan.

The Developer Work Week involving technical debt and bad code, which impact developer productivity
Reproduced from Stripe's The Developer Coefficient

Looking to the future with confidence?

Despite the efficiency impact, roughly 83% of C-level executives and 77% of developers are very or somewhat confident they have sufficient resources to keep up with new technology trends, like AI/ML, IoT, and blockchain.

And yet a whopping 44% of developers believe their company is too slow to react to tech trends.

Something doesn’t quite add up. Instead of coveting developers over cash, maybe companies need to innovate and react faster to new technology trends.

Check out the full report.

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