Welcome!

@BigDataExpo Authors: John Rauser, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Amy Eager

Related Topics: @DevOpsSummit, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog

@DevOpsSummit: Blog Post

How to Stop Your Developers from Jumping Ship | @DevOpsSummit #Agile #DevOps

For developers working across a broken workflow, the frustration can be felt acutely

We are experiencing a ‘crisis of engagement,' according to a survey by management consultancy Gallup, with a staggering 87 percent of employees worldwide disengaged with their jobs. While there are many factors that can influence an employee's contentment - from support to compensation to job security - a common grievance in software development is disempowerment, where talented individuals are feeling hampered by their working environment.

Operating within a flawed system is infuriating in any profession. But for developers working across a broken workflow, the frustration can be felt more acutely. One of the major bones of contention is that developers find themselves working in a way that conflicts with their training and established best practices, one that is not conducive with Agile and DevOps working methodologies and prevents them from optimizing their tools-of-choice.

A main contributor to an unproductive working environment is a fragmented toolchain, which is a regular occurrence at organizations worldwide. Many of them are adopting a best-of-breed approach to tool procurement without a holistic investment strategy. Individual specialists, teams and disciplines are specifying a tool (or version thereof) as and when required - i.e., a project manager with CA Clarity PPM, a tester in HP ALM, a QA in HPE QC, a developer in JIRA and so on - with little consideration as to how it may impact the rest of the software lifecycle.

While it is logical to equip employees with the best tools for the job, this ad-hoc and unsynchronized approach is littered with time bombs that could explode at any time, negatively impacting a developer's satisfaction and, ultimately, an organization's software delivery capability. So what can be done to stop developers jumping ship to join Facebook, Netflix, et al?

Grounds for divorce
Any investment strategy must consider software lifecycle integration (SLI), otherwise an organization is quietly laying the foundation for an unproductive environment that will come back to haunt it. Tools in the software lifecycle are not designed to integrate with other third-party tools, meaning they do not naturally communicate with each other, and project-critical data typically becomes siloed within the tools.

The result is a workflow with little-to-no visibility, traceability or governance across the lifecycle, with stakeholders unable to share information with other stakeholders, greatly impacting collaboration. Such a dynamic can frustrate a developer in several ways, all of which are avoidable. Here are just a few of the issues caused by a disconnected toolchain:

  • Agile and DevOps blasphemy: Collaboration, interaction and information are the triumvirate of Agile and DevOps. The flow of artifacts between tools can be considered more important than the tool itself. As both methodologies are widely accepted as industry standards, it's understandable that most developers will be looking to apply the principles in their day-to-day work within their teams. But if their tool is isolated and they're unable to share or receive vital data at a click of button, they will become discontented as their training is wasted and skill set underutilized.
  • Developers just want to...develop: Developers are genuinely passionate about their work. They're problem solvers who love tackling issues with code, taking great pleasure in working with their colleagues to build and maintain projects, drive innovation, challenge the status quo and, significantly, create value for their company. But it's a tough job; intensive coding is an all-encompassing specialty that requires undivided attention. They don't - and shouldn't have to - spend valuable hours lost in boring non-value administrivia (status meetings, emails, data entry, spreadsheet merging, etc.). Such tasks can be minimalized, or even removed completely. If they're not, don't be surprised if your developers seek new pastures.
  • Friend or foe: If a tool isn't implemented correctly and working in unison with the lifecycle, it can quickly become a burden or, worse, a foe. Isolating a quality tool can quickly strip it of its capabilities and functionality, as developers spend more time fighting the tool than harnessing its powers. Benign issues become malignant, and great and engaged developers become frustrated and disinterested.
  • Rotten apple: As the adage goes, ‘one rotten apple spoils the whole bunch.' Team unity, especially in software development, is integral to Agile and DevOps principles. A strong software lifecycle needs all players in the game to be happy in their roles or balls will be dropped. If a developer is disenchanted by her role within the team because of inefficient processes and procedures, it's only a matter of time before her colleagues become demoralized too. Beware the domino effect.

Pain relief
Addressing a fragmented software lifecycle is the first step in creating harmony among your software development and delivery personnel. An integrated software value stream has many benefits, but at its heart, it's all about removing waste and getting rid of all the annoying work that plagues a developer's day.

What do we mean by ‘software value stream'? A value stream is a notion borrowed from Lean manufacturing; it's the sequence of activities an organization undertakes to deliver a customer request, focusing on both the production flow from raw material to end-product and the design flow from concept to realization.

Looking at software development from a value stream perspective puts the emphasis on creation of customer value, rather than simply looking at these activities as a process. It's all about the ‘Big Picture' - improving the whole process, not just the parts - to minimize waste and ensure customers get exactly what they asked for.

How does an integrated values stream boost employee engagement? The troubles experienced by a leading global bank during its four-year Agile and DevOps transformation illustrates the point perfectly. Given the nature of its business, it's critical that all information is consistent across all the bank's systems, yet it lacked an automated flow of information between tools.

This meant that developers were still rekeying from one tool to another, taking up to two hours a day in duplicate entry. Not only was this a huge waste of valuable labor hours that cost the business up to $10 million annually in lost value, developers often got so frustrated that they would leave. This case study is painfully familiar, and again, entirely avoidable.

A Developer's Paradise
An integrated software value stream yields many benefits for developers (and the rest of the software lifecycle), including:

  • Information flows automatically across teams without costly manual intervention and oversight, removing non-value work and bottlenecks.
  • Collaboration happens within the work, rather than in email or disconnected tools.
  • Reports and analytics emerge from a holistic view of all the artifacts.
  • Traceability and governance become a natural act rather than an expensive manual process.
  • Visibility into the value stream enables managers to understand project status and optimize processes, meaning developers have the freedom and insight to build extraordinary software.
  • A modular Agile toolchain means forward-thinking developers can plug in new tools (or new versions of their existing tools) to experiment with new ideas and innovations.

As a result, these organizations experience:

  • Faster time-to-market
  • Reduced development cost
  • Ability to add more features, more efficiently, while improving quality and reducing risk
  • Ability to leverage their software development capability to bring differentiating value to their businesses

And perhaps most importantly, it results in high developer engagement and job satisfaction; the fuel behind any software-driven organization that's looking to transform its business in a digital world.

More Stories By John Rauser

John Rauser is the IT Manager at Tasktop Technologies, a global enterprise software company. He also serves as VP Operations at the board of the Project Management Institute - Canadian West Coast Chapter, providing leadership and expertise on technology issues. He has a passion for discussing the business impacts of technology and analyzing strategies for managing IT.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@BigDataExpo Stories
IoT solutions exploit operational data generated by Internet-connected smart “things” for the purpose of gaining operational insight and producing “better outcomes” (for example, create new business models, eliminate unscheduled maintenance, etc.). The explosive proliferation of IoT solutions will result in an exponential growth in the volume of IoT data, precipitating significant Information Governance issues: who owns the IoT data, what are the rights/duties of IoT solutions adopters towards t...
With the introduction of IoT and Smart Living in every aspect of our lives, one question has become relevant: What are the security implications? To answer this, first we have to look and explore the security models of the technologies that IoT is founded upon. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nevi Kaja, a Research Engineer at Ford Motor Company, discussed some of the security challenges of the IoT infrastructure and related how these aspects impact Smart Living. The material was delivered interac...
The current age of digital transformation means that IT organizations must adapt their toolset to cover all digital experiences, beyond just the end users’. Today’s businesses can no longer focus solely on the digital interactions they manage with employees or customers; they must now contend with non-traditional factors. Whether it's the power of brand to make or break a company, the need to monitor across all locations 24/7, or the ability to proactively resolve issues, companies must adapt to...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
The taxi industry never saw Uber coming. Startups are a threat to incumbents like never before, and a major enabler for startups is that they are instantly “cloud ready.” If innovation moves at the pace of IT, then your company is in trouble. Why? Because your data center will not keep up with frenetic pace AWS, Microsoft and Google are rolling out new capabilities. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Don Browning, VP of Cloud Architecture at Turner, posited that disruption is inevitable for comp...
No hype cycles or predictions of zillions of things here. IoT is big. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, Associate Partner at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data analytics considerations, edge-to-cloud tec...
When growing capacity and power in the data center, the architectural trade-offs between server scale-up vs. scale-out continue to be debated. Both approaches are valid: scale-out adds multiple, smaller servers running in a distributed computing model, while scale-up adds fewer, more powerful servers that are capable of running larger workloads. It’s worth noting that there are additional, unique advantages that scale-up architectures offer. One big advantage is large memory and compute capacity...
New competitors, disruptive technologies, and growing expectations are pushing every business to both adopt and deliver new digital services. This ‘Digital Transformation’ demands rapid delivery and continuous iteration of new competitive services via multiple channels, which in turn demands new service delivery techniques – including DevOps. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, panelists examined how DevOps helps to meet the de...
Cloud applications are seeing a deluge of requests to support the exploding advanced analytics market. “Open analytics” is the emerging strategy to deliver that data through an open data access layer, in the cloud, to be directly consumed by external analytics tools and popular programming languages. An increasing number of data engineers and data scientists use a variety of platforms and advanced analytics languages such as SAS, R, Python and Java, as well as frameworks such as Hadoop and Spark...
"When we talk about cloud without compromise what we're talking about is that when people think about 'I need the flexibility of the cloud' - it's the ability to create applications and run them in a cloud environment that's far more flexible,” explained Matthew Finnie, CTO of Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Join us at Cloud Expo June 6-8 to find out how to securely connect your cloud app to any cloud or on-premises data source – without complex firewall changes. More users are demanding access to on-premises data from their cloud applications. It’s no longer a “nice-to-have” but an important differentiator that drives competitive advantages. It’s the new “must have” in the hybrid era. Users want capabilities that give them a unified view of the data to get closer to customers and grow business. The...
"Loom is applying artificial intelligence and machine learning into the entire log analysis process, from start to finish and at the end you will get a human touch,” explained Sabo Taylor Diab, Vice President, Marketing at Loom Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
"We focus on composable infrastructure. Composable infrastructure has been named by companies like Gartner as the evolution of the IT infrastructure where everything is now driven by software," explained Bruno Andrade, CEO and Founder of HTBase, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural networks. We’re in the midst of a wave of excitement around AI such as hasn’t been seen for a few decades. But those previous periods of inflated expectations led to troughs of disappointment. Will this time be different? Most likely. Applications of AI such as predictive analytics are already decreasing costs and improving reliability of industrial machinery. Furthermore, the funding and research going into AI now comes from a wide range of com...
In this presentation, Striim CTO and founder Steve Wilkes will discuss practical strategies for counteracting fraud and cyberattacks by leveraging real-time streaming analytics. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Steve Wilkes, Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Striim, will provide a detailed look into leveraging streaming data management to correlate events in real time, and identify potential breaches across IoT and non-IoT systems throughout the enterprise. Strategies for processing massive ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that GrapeUp, the leading provider of rapid product development at the speed of business, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market acr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ayehu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara California. Ayehu provides IT Process Automation & Orchestration solutions for IT and Security professionals to identify and resolve critical incidents and enable rapid containment, eradication, and recovery from cyber security breaches. Ayehu provides customers greater control over IT infras...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a client-oriented software development company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex software systems for startups and enterprises. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business...