Developer Time is More Valuable Than Ever

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We ask a question about the drivers for DevOps adoption each year in the State of Database DevOps Report. Responses to this question have remained relatively steady in previous years. In the 2020 survey, the top three responses remained ranked in the same order as in prior years, but we saw an interesting change:

  1. To increase the speed of database changes – 28% (down 2%)
  2. To free up developers’ time for more added value work – 24% (up 7%!)
  3. To reduce the risk of losing data during the deployment process – 12% (down 1%)

Notably, more people responded that making the most of developer time for added value work is their top motivating factor when it comes to DevOps adoption.

It’s interesting to think about developer time when it comes to the top two results: the “freeing up developer time” isn’t simply about allowing them time to code more changes which are delivered more quickly. This choice also specifies that it’s important that the time be used for “added value” work: in other words this is related to increasing the business value of the work in some way and not simply related to routine or expected changes to maintain existing functionality.

This result may be related to findings from other studies which are beginning to be understood by more organizations. The 2018 Developer Coefficient report found that “companies waste $300 billion of developer productivity every year,” citing the time developers spend on maintenance issues and repairing code defects. The 2019 Accelerate DevOps Report used a research model which shows that “organizations can improve engineer productivity by investing in easy-to-use tools and information search, a culture of psychological safety, and by reducing technical debt.” Along with other studies, these pieces of research have helped uncover the “toil” which takes up engineer time and reduces the ability of developers to deliver quality new features quickly.

Whether you are a database specialist or not, this shift in responses is helpful to be aware of if you want to influence change in your organization: when talking about why you want to do something, explaining this in terms of added value for the company is more important than before. While people still care about “speeding up” and “reducing risk” quite a bit – those are still important – it’s increasingly important to think about the specific business value of a proposed change, and to express that in a way your audience can understand. Our data suggests that doing so will help make your proposal more persuasive.

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