In the Future of Work, Successful Software Development Teams Will Focus on Delivering Tangible Outcomes

The COVID-19 pandemic compelled executives to adapt to a completely new situation as they switched to remote work. Many were worried that working from home would decrease productivity as there was no physical oversight. However, as more and more companies have placed their faith in remote employees, an increasing number of workers now desire permanent remote positions.

Despite being reluctant to switch to telecommuting for his developers, Elliott Holt, CEO of a health information management firm in Nashville, had to give it a shot due to the ongoing circumstances. After working remotely for some time, Holt has discovered that this approach is effective and can be a feasible long-term solution for his company. He shared his thoughts by stating, “It’s working.”

Different Results and Endeavors

Holt’s experience highlights the shift from measuring success based on hours spent at a desk to evaluating it based on tangible results. Kate Lister, the President of Global Workforce Analytics, notes that one of the biggest challenges associated with remote work is trust; managers often struggle with trusting their employees to be productive without supervision, and instead focus on headcount rather than efficiency. This can be particularly difficult for managers, who may have to balance managing their team while also caring for their children.

The creator of widely-used and acclaimed platform WordPress, Automattic, is currently led remotely by its CEO and co-founder, Matt Mullenweg. At Automattic, they prioritize an accurate and objective evaluation of developer productivity that is centered on outcomes, rather than face-to-face interactions or formal recruitment processes. This approach avoids any biases and is reinforced by Mullenweg’s belief that success is the ultimate goal, regardless of the hours invested or the methods used to achieve it.

Evaluating Programmer Productivity

Assessing the efficiency of software development carried out by a team of software engineers working from various locations can be challenging. While writing code is an obvious indicator of progress, it may be more difficult to determine the programmer’s contribution in terms of quality or impact on the product. At Works, we have extensive experience managing successful distributed software development teams for several businesses. As part of our effort to manage performance, we have designed data-driven best practices to assess the quality of work. These productivity metrics include:

  • New Code — Refers to code produced for a new feature or functionality without replacing any existing code
  • By “Legacy Refactor,” we mean “Code that modifies or updates old code requiring rework.”
  • Code that is deleted or modified and becomes quickly outdated is referred to as “churn.”
  • Assisting others by modifying their latest code
  • Effectiveness: The ratio of submitted code that actually achieves its intended purpose

Evaluation is a reliable tool for measuring productivity that relies on objective data, rather than subjective opinions. Data can be used to confirm or refute assumptions made about remote employees’ performance. A positive cycle of trust is established when remote employees prove their worth and exceed expectations. According to a Harvard Business Review study, employees who feel trusted by their superiors are more likely to perform better. This increased productivity is one reason why many companies are considering remote work policies beyond the current season of flu.

See also: Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Success: A Guide to Project Manager Performance Metrics

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