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

Due to the outbreak of the global pandemic, many executives were confronted with a wholly unfamiliar situation as they transitioned to remote work. There had been a prevalent concern that productivity would suffer without the oversight of a physical office, however, as more companies have come to trust their remote employees, a greater number of these workers now wish to remain in their positions permanently.

Elliott Holt, CEO of a Nashville-based health information management business, was initially resistant to the idea of telecommuting for his developers. However, due to the current circumstances, he has had no choice but to give it a try. Now that he has been working remotely for a while, Holt has found that it is successful, and he believes that it can be a viable long-term solution for his company. He commented, “It’s working.

Contrasting Outcomes and Efforts

Holt’s circumstances serve to illustrate the shift away from basing success on the amount of time spent at a desk and towards judging it based on actual outcomes. According to Kate Lister, the President of Global Workforce Analytics, one of the primary difficulties associated with remote work is the issue of trust; managers tend to struggle with trusting their employees to work without supervision. They are more likely to rely on headcount rather than efficiency. This can be especially challenging for those in managerial roles, as instead of having to manage their team, they find themselves having to care for their children.

Automattic, the company behind the creation of the widely-used and acclaimed WordPress, is now led remotely by its CEO and co-founder, Matt Mullenweg. At Automattic, they believe in a more accurate and objective assessment of developer productivity; one that focuses on outcomes, rather than face-to-face interactions or formal recruitment processes. This approach of avoiding prejudice is further reinforced by Mullenweg’s motto that, at the end of the day, success is all that matters – regardless of the amount of hours invested or the means by which it is achieved.

Productivity Evaluation for Programmers

Evaluating the efficiency of software development when it is carried out by a team of software engineers who are located in various locations can be difficult. Writing code is an obvious indication of progress, however, it may be harder to assess the value added to the product in terms of quality or impact due to the efforts of the programmer. At Works, we have a long history of effectively managing distributed software development teams for many businesses. As part of our performance management efforts, we have developed data-driven best practices to evaluate the quality of work. These measures of productivity include:

  • New Code — Code that has been produced specifically for a new functionality and does not replace any existing code
  • What we mean by “Legacy Refactor” is “Code that updates or alters old code that needed rework.”
  • Deleted or altered code that is quickly outdated is called “churn.”
  • To Aid Others Through Modifying Their Most Recent Code
  • Effectiveness: The proportion of all submitted code that really accomplishes anything

Assessment is an effective tool to measure productivity and it relies on facts, not opinion. When making assumptions about the performance of a remote employee, data can be used to validate or disprove them. A positive cycle of trust is established when remote employees demonstrate their worth and exceed expectations. According to a Harvard Business Review study, employees that report feeling trusted by their superiors are more likely to go the extra mile. This increased productivity is one of the reasons why many companies are considering keeping remote work policies in place beyond the flu season.

Related Article: Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Success: An Overview of Project Manager Performance Metrics

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