2022 was a banner year for innovation, but not only in the traditional “churning out new features” way. Many organizations started thinking about their processes and how to amplify them to maximize efficiency and employee retention. And when they started digging, companies realized that the developer experience was a major pain point that could be rectified–and a ripple effect of positive gains would result.
Companies started looking more closely at how the tools and processes developers use support and enhance their work. Great tools and thoughtful processes boost developer happiness and satisfaction. And when those levels rise, guess what else increased? Productivity, efficiency and employee retention rates.
We saw this trend of developer support take hold last year, but with more work to be done across many companies, we’ll see it continue in 2023 and beyond, impacting just about every facet of tech in new ways. Many companies have realized what does work by trying what doesn’t work and are making big changes from there.
A major player in the changing developer experience has been the shift left approach that’s taken hold in recent years. About 80% of organizations have said they are adopting this idea of moving more of the responsibility for security and compliance to the front of the pipeline to avoid a compliance scramble at the point of delivery. The result, however, is a compliance process that ends up being more complex and less efficient, putting additional burdens on developers.
Involving more people creates more opportunities for security breaches and slows down the entire software delivery life cycle. It also shifts security responsibilities to developers and requires them to do significantly more than is listed in their job description. In fact, 60% of those shifting left said their development team is bearing the burden of the change. Rather than focusing on writing code, developers have been called on to understand regulatory policies, build regulatory controls into their applications or pipelines, inspect massive log files generated by more and more diagnostic tools for security info and spend more time in meetings to discuss audits. That’s not a recipe for fulfilled developers; it’s the path to a loss of innovation.
Stop Paying the Compliance Tax
When developers–or anyone on your team–are tied up in compliance tasks, they aren’t spending that time in profit-earning efforts. This “compliance tax” costs companies an estimated 15% each year–that’s 15% of their time spent managing compliance instead of innovating or providing services that add value. That’s not to say that compliance isn’t important–it’s essential, in fact–but limiting the burden of compliance improves the overall experience of developers.
When developers aren’t innovating, they’re not happy. They want to be writing great code, not translating regulatory governance policies. In today’s culture of quiet quitting, companies simply can’t afford to turn over compliance tasks to developers. It’s a waste of their talent and a surefire way to lose great developers and the chance to attract new ones.
Shift Left, but Do it Right
The good news is the compliance tax is largely avoidable. Instead of shifting responsibilities left, shift compliance everywhere. No one person or group, including developers, should be in charge of these tasks–that approach just isn’t comprehensive enough to ensure security and compliance throughout the software delivery life cycle.
Instead, security and compliance should be moved away from a point-in-time part of the cycle to a continuous process built into every step of the life cycle. CI/CD reduces the burden on any one person or group and is proven to be more efficient at catching anything that is non-compliant. When the tools are doing the heavy lifting, the people aren’t making as many mistakes and non-compliant code isn’t slipping through.
Baking in compliance allows developers to spend more time doing what they do best: Creating amazing features. This, more than anything, will boost the developer experience. Developers want to create and, when they experience the right environment and the right resources, innovation tends to happen.
Beyond the Developer Experience
Focusing on the developer experience pays off in more ways than just creating happy employees (though that alone is reason enough to make a change). Innovative developers are the backbone of leading tech companies. When they’re churning out new features that are getting public recognition and are touting a culture with a positive developer experience, companies attract more talented developers and the innovation loop continues.
So, if you’re looking for more innovation in 2023, start where you’ve always started: Your developers. Set them up for success by automating what can be automated and baking in the mundane – yet essential – tasks to truly optimize the developer experience. Then sit back and watch what incredible capabilities your developers can generate.