Developer Velocity: Key lessons from digital leaders on software excellence for 2021 and beyond


Written by Erika EhrliDirector, Azure Product Marketing


Becoming world class at developing software is a more strategic imperative for companies across industries than ever before. While we have seen developer teams in many organizations around the world building amazing customer-facing and internal line-of-business applications for years, over the last year, we’ve seen massive shifts in the way many organizations connect with customers and employees. Businesses and organizations of all sizes are adopting solutions to enable remote work and are creating brand-new, cloud-based applications with an increasing focus on staying secure. Today, there is an even greater urgency for companies to invest in software development to adapt and thrive in 2021 and beyond.


COVID-19 drove significant durable demand and business model disruptions across industries. Banking and retail were two particularly impacted industries. While our earlier research highlighted the importance of Developer Velocity, post COVID-19, there is even more urgency for companies to invest in software development in the right way to adapt and thrive today and in the future.


In late 2020, we conducted new industry-focused research to understand the journey that leading companies in banking and retail take to become world class organizations. Deeply understanding the unique experience of our customers, and learning valuable lessons on how they are reinventing the value they drive through software excellence, is a fundamental part of our continued effort to recognize how organizations can accelerate business performance.


Specifically in this phase, we partnered with five leading companies who are building solutions with the Microsoft Cloud and we studied in depth how these companies built top-performing software organizations: ABN AMRO, Albertsons, Capital One, a leading global Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) chain, and a large global US-based bank. In addition, we interviewed a few additional leading retailers with global footprints. Each of these companies made it a core focus to build world-class software and drive a culture that attracts technical talent.


We focused on these large companies’ software transformation journeys, investment priorities, drivers of Developer Velocity, approaches to change management, and—crucially—the resulting impact on business performance. For example, in banking, one of our customers invested in standardized tools, engineering practices, and reinventing the team operating model—and has seen significant dividends. After the changes, productivity increased by 33 percent, testing time has declined by 95 percent, and 45 percent of workloads are now cloud-based, with Microsoft Azure as the primary cloud vendor. For retail, one of our customers transformed software development to meet rapidly growing demand for online orders, with e-commerce as the clear growth driver for its business. As a result, it recently achieved its third straight quarter of more than 200 percent sales growth—up 225 percent in September 2020. The company’s developers are also proud of their work: launch time for new customer features has reduced by more than 85 percent, and testing time by more than 50 percent, while maintaining quality. About 70 percent of their customer-facing e-commerce stack is in the public cloud, compared to zero percent just three years ago.


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