As remote work continues into 2021, developer teams are still navigating the new landscape for working across distributed teams and how this new way of working affects product delivery. In particular, there are several key challenges that every developer must face this year, including adapting to new tools and workflows internally, balancing the prioritization of keep-the-lights-on initiatives with product initiatives, and understanding how to address emerging customer challenges.
As developer teams are responsible for keeping both internal systems healthy and maintaining service uptime for customers, addressing these issues and implementing the strategies below will help ensure better delivery, easier deployment of application and software solutions and improved internal communication processes.
#1 Get Better at Digital Experience Monitoring
For businesses to survive in this current environment, neglecting to monitor a user’s digital experience across their life cycle can mean losing business to a competitor. At a bare minimum, developer teams must ensure that their application’s basic infrastructure is sound. This means monitoring key metrics like CPU load, memory load, memory used, disk space, queue lengths, API uptime or error codes returned.
For a fuller user experience, developer teams should also monitor things like page or app load times, drop-off points in an app and crash logs. The third level of digital experience monitoring is keeping tabs on what your users are doing, such as skipping the onboarding flow, inviting friends to your app, posting content or how much total time they’re spending within the app. Robust digital experience monitoring will ensure that you are constantly measuring the quality of your users’ experience and making improvements along the way.
#2 Expand Where and How You Gather User Feedback
Beyond initial user monitoring, teams should continuously collect feedback to improve features and fix issues that might not have been discovered during testing. One natural way to do this is to aggregate user reviews and support questions to find common themes that may help product teams prioritize future releases. It is also critical to think outside of the box in terms of where and how feedback is collected. Teams can also collect feedback in other ways, such as conducting data analysis and user research sessions or having direct conversations with customers. Giving key beta users early access to a new release can also help developer teams understand whether their application is meeting users’ needs, and whether it is intuitive to use.
Ultimately, by engaging with customers in extensive and real conversations, teams may learn where there are disconnects between users and the products, and what they can do to bridge this gap. Once the information is collected, teams should then prioritize what needs to be done first by ranking requests by frequency received, financial value of fixing the issue, strategic importance to the overall organization and engineering effort.
#3 Prioritize Low-Code and Customer Self-Service Models
Removing barriers to entry for customers is especially critical right now, as developers consider changing user needs, tighter budgets and fewer personnel to implement new code. Customers just don’t have time for entire enterprise sales and onboarding cycles to implement new solutions, so requiring less code is a great way to introduce a more self-service model. This model is also great for non-developers to implement and ensures that customers (whether fellow developers or even someone on a marketing operations or web team) can easily integrate new tools and software into their existing solutions. This is not only critical for those without a more technical background, but also valuable for time-strapped product teams who want to buy, versus build, a new feature.
#4 Codify Hiring to Help Developer Teams Succeed
During the pandemic, both large companies and small startups have pivoted significantly in the way they recruit and onboard engineering, DevOps and technical roles. Leaders of developer teams need to codify their hiring plans and put in place remote work strategies, especially with the hybrid working model that combines remote personnel with in-office staff.
When hiring for remote teams, consider where individuals are located for both development and customer support purposes. Once you determine these core hubs, there should be guidelines in place to reduce the need for team members to work across major time zone differences. This can mean having a core software team in a centralized region that also overlaps with a major customer base, or having an engineering team located in a similar time zone to the design team for easier communication.
Overall, the needs of each developer team will differ depending on the size of the company and the industry it serves. That’s why it’s critically important to adapt your systems and infrastructure accordingly. Furthermore, listening to and processing user feedback, building products that meet ever-changing customer demands and continuing to focus on team communications will help ensure long-term success in a post-pandemic world.