The rise of the Developer Experience Engineer, and why it matters


In a world that increasingly relies on digital products, software development is becoming the catalyst for creating value and driving first-rate business results. At every level of the industry, innovation drives productivity. This is especially true for companies at the technological frontier looking to innovate in response to competition. In many cases, this means developing new software at a steady pace.

According to Evans Data, the number of developers worldwide is expected to increase from 23.9 million in 2019 to 28.7 million in 2024. IDC estimates that within three years, more than half of the production of Fortune 500 companies will revolve around digital and digitally compatible products and services.

Yet teams that focus on creating the best possible environment for developers to succeed are seeing significant results in their bottom line. A recent McKinsey report proved that companies that prioritize developer speed have revenue growth four to five times that of their peers.

Now that businesses need developers more than ever, how can they maximize developer productivity, engagement, and business value? How can they make the most of what the industry knows and move forward together, losing friction and gaining speed?

The Developer Experience Engineer (DXE)

Engineering teams need a leader, a Developer Experience Engineer, who makes sure developers have the right tools, processes, and environment to maximize productivity and create the most business value possible. The DXE is the basis of the success of the engineering team. They make it easy for developer teams to focus on their highest goal and generate the highest value by solving, automating and eliminating the daily work of developers. They are a major unlocking force that takes teams to new heights.

An owner or a DX function is not a new idea. Twitter formed an “engineering efficiency” organization in 2014, and Google has a massive “engineering productivity” team. In many companies, however, the role organically emerges and expands.

DXEs implement a common set of principles, maintain the right tools, and create consistent standards that pave the way for developer success. Without them, too many languages, frameworks, styles of engineering, and processes can add drag. A brake for developers is a brake for the company. Beyond the cost of wasted development minutes, poor performance can affect overall innovation, quality and speed of execution, as well as the customer experience. In fact, it all adds up to the bottom line.

Developers are experts in their field – they build. They are not necessarily experts in the field of process optimization. Significantly, they will optimize for their own speed (such as choosing their preferred language to write), but sometimes at the expense of team speed. As the number of developers in an organization increases, the complexity increases tenfold. The role of the Developer Experience Engineer is becoming increasingly important to create efficiencies and shared practices between ambitious and energized teams.

Finally, a DXE helps identify and eliminate waste, that is, the labor involved in maintaining existing software systems. Without DXE, engineers spend time on maintenance rather than construction. It’s less efficient than having someone with centralized authority to do maintenance, allowing developers to write code. This allows software development teams to spend more time doing what they love with the right processes in place. Leaders in this role have already developed sound strategies to help their teams find and identify areas to optimize workflows and eliminate waste.

DXE is not a gatekeeper role for problem solving for developers. Rather, they help promote the right solutions from individual teams and enable standardization where it makes sense to simplify development across departments.

The business impact of DXE: the right questions

  • Increase in income: The increase, or decrease, of a company’s sales between two periods – how did the software drive that number? How could the dev team develop it over the next quarter or year?
  • Improved user experience: The impressions of the users on the services can be multiple. How can software engineering improve UX and measurably improve wait time, or ratings, or expand the user base?
  • Improved version quality: Developers must really feel like owners here. How do we deliver more stable code, how do we create more innovative and necessary features? Getting people to really care about quality means caring about both business value and usability.
  • Efficiency: Only work on the things that matter. How many times per day do developers merge with the main branch? How often is my code in a releasable state? What part of my code base is covered by tests? Have I optimized my tools and my infrastructure? What are the speed gains and potential savings of alternative tooling / infrastructure solutions?

How do you know your team needs a developer experience leader?

It is not easy to give a definitive rule of when the company needs an experienced developer engineer – companies have engineering numbers, skills, experiences, tools and treatments. different. Small teams can be united by clear visions and kept on track with perfectly sane KPIs.

However, as the team grows and the developer becomes a more critical role in each organization, there is a significant benefit to formalizing the role of developer experience and consistency in creating and delivering. of value – as well as the correct recognition of the role. For businesses, this role helps engineers achieve ever higher development speeds, a key component of business success. For developers, a clear picture of an experienced team and leader signals the investment of an organization that values ​​their work and time.

The case of a Developer Experience Engineer

Opportunities to improve the developer experience:

  • Get significant value from talent: The average cost of a developer minute in Silicon Valley is around $ 1.42. Every minute a developer’s counter is ticking, but organizations are teeming with productivity killers.
  • Stream Developers: Distractions can make or break a developer’s productivity. Everything from email and Slack to the tools developers use to build and test can take a developer out of the flow, reducing productivity and increasing costs and labor.
  • Solve interesting problems: Developers want interesting problems. Some of the less advanced working developers are loaded – updating plugins or investigating and fixing flaky tests can be reduced by taking advantage of the right automation tools under the expertise of a DXE.
  • Give meaning to work: Bringing developers closer to the end customer and the challenges their product helps solve connects them to the business mission. Too often, teams can lose sight of their mission and the value they bring. Taking developers out of the daily grind, helping them ship quality products faster, brings the team closer to the customer and highlights how they are helping improve user experiences and lives. Everyone benefits and the satisfaction of the teams is enhanced.
  • Bring purchasing decisions closer to the engineering team: Tooling decisions are made at levels far removed from the engineers who use them – at the same time an abundance of new tooling options are available. A DXE can bridge the gap between the top of the organization and the developers doing the work, providing holistic benefits.
  • Bringing leadership closer to the engineering team: Measuring and optimizing engineering speed is the primary focus, along with the ability to capture and report on engineering success and how that matches business value. Leadership benefits from a DXE change of context in engineering that will translate engineering success into business value.

DXE and the future

Organizations have tried to solve the problem of the developer experience in various ways for decades, but it has never been more important than it is today, as software has become the dominant force behind all aspects of the software. ‘economy. The emergence of DXE as a standard role, with core responsibilities and metrics for success, will unleash the power of developers in all types of organizations and across industries.

This promises to overload the development team, increase the productivity, efficiency and quality of the product shipped. Organizations in the post-pandemic era are now investing to ensure they are creating the right environment for their engineering teams to bear fruit.

They seek to build resilient teams, tools, and infrastructure to fight the next inevitable industry disruption. Having the right environment with the right tools and processes in place turns smart engineers into great engineers. It starts with the DXE.

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