Putting Tools in Your Hands to Improve Developer Productivity
Published Nov 02 2021 07:59 AM 8,448 Views

By: @danielserver, Senior Product Marketing Manager and  @AlisonMcMartin, Senior Product Marketing Manager 


Developers are tasked with building the future. For organizations looking to usher in the next wave of digital transformation, it’s essential to create the right working environment to maximize developer innovation and well-being.




When we talk about improving Developer Velocity, we’re referring to removing barriers and points of friction for developers so they can feel valued and achieve more.


Organizations that boost Developer Velocity achieve better business results and innovate faster[1]. Naturally, this has become a common goal among businesses, but unfortunately, many struggle to accurately measure Developer Velocity. Historically, firms have measured this by tracking activity-related metrics such as lines of code written per day or number of builds shipped in a quarter, but this approach fails to consider other key factors. It’s time for organizations to take a step back and see the bigger picture: Developer Velocity is about far more than just speed of delivery – it’s about the other factors that impact developers as well.


For the past two years, Microsoft has been a strong proponent of Developer Velocity research, leading numerous projects and initiatives to understand what it takes for organizations to achieve it.


In 2021, we took the next step in our journey by launching Developer Velocity Lab (DVL), a joint GitHub and Microsoft initiative which lives under Microsoft Research. DVL is led by Dr. Nicole Forsgren. Her industry-leading work in DevOps and software development metrics includes authoring the Shingo Publication Award-winning book Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps.


Today, we’re highlighting two pre-existing tools, and releasing one more, which will help you measure Developer Velocity more holistically in your own organization and make improvements to drive better business. Here are the three tools available to help teams and organizations improve their Developer Velocity:

  • The Developer Velocity Assessment, which organizations have been using to improve outcomes for almost two years.
  • The SPACE framework, a flexible tool which can be used to help anyone think more deeply about measuring and improving development work and create their own metrics.
  • The DevOps Workflow Generator, a new interactive tool that helps teams build their workflows so they can visualize and communicate their work, and later benchmark their performance.

Now, let’s explore how each tool can help you and your organization improve your Developer Velocity.


Measuring your organization’s Developer Velocity with the Assessment

One of our key goals has always been to provide you with tools to take action. In May 2020 we released the Developer Velocity Assessment to help organizations measure their current Developer Velocity. Since release, this tool has helped hundreds of companies of all sizes understand the impact of technology, working practices, and organization enablement on their development teams’ performance. This assessment helps organizations benchmark their Developer Velocity Index (DVI) scores relative to industry peers, as well as understand actionable guidance for how to drive better business outcomes for their organization. Understanding your current level of Developer Velocity enables you to begin making improvements.  


Using the SPACE framework to enhance Developer Velocity

Another tool to help you understand Developer Velocity in your own organization is the SPACE framework. True to DVL’s research roots, this framework is derived from DVL’s first publication, The SPACE of Developer Productivity: There's more to it than you think. The SPACE framework is an easily adaptable and flexible tool that helps organizations measure developer productivity in a more holistic manner.


The five dimensions of the SPACE framework are: S: satisfaction and well-being, P: performance, A: activity, C: communication and collaboration, and E: efficiency and flow. We suggest measuring at least three of the five dimensions at any given time. Traditionally, developer activity was the main metric that organizations measured, without focusing as much on other key areas such as efficiency and flow.


To see an example of the SPACE framework in action, check out how GitHub implemented it during The Good Day Project. This two-week study invited GitHub developers to take a daily survey and share their engineering data to help identify which patterns and practices could help them have “good days.” The study yielded many interesting results, but some of the key findings were that interruptions are more disruptive than we think, too many meetings can get in the way of progress, and a short reflection period at the end of each day makes a big difference in how people feel in terms of meeting their goals.


By implementing the SPACE framework, you can more holistically measure and understand Developer Velocity in your organization.


Visualize and improve your work with the DevOps Workflow Generator NEW!

Today, DVL is excited to announce the release of a new tool designed to help organizations measure and improve Developer Velocity: the DevOps Workflow Generator. By granting users an end-to-end view of their entire DevOps toolchain in one place, they can begin to surface, track, and understand the tooling and automation that supports their workflows. Without a clear – and shared – understanding of the workflow, improving it is not possible.


At Microsoft Research, we’re very focused on helping developers around the world be happy and successful. As we better understand developers’ environments and what contributes to good days and good outcomes, we can design better tools and solutions to support them. We’re confident that the DevOps Workflow Generator will help users better understand the interplay between their various tools and enable them to have more productive conversations about optimizing their environments for improved efficiency and flow.


- Dr. Nicole Forsgren, Partner Research Manager, Microsoft Research 

Additionally, the anonymous, aggregated data collected from the DevOps Workflow Generator will help users understand up-to-date DevOps trends in their industry and/or geography. Once the tool has collected enough responses, DVL will release reports summarizing and revealing any prevalent DevOps trends[2].


Start your Developer Velocity journey today

As almost every company is now a software company, developers are at the core of the next wave of digital transformation. Our overarching goal is to help developers, teams, and organizations in a holistic way. This includes understanding the impact of technology, working practices and organizational enablement with the Developer Velocity Assessment; improving Developer Velocity across multiple dimensions of the SPACE framework; and even optimizing an organization’s DevOps toolchain through the use of the new DevOps Workflow Generator.


We are delighted to see teams taking the next step on their Developer Velocity journeys towards unlocking better overall performance for their teams. To learn more about how some of our customers have improved business outcomes by tapping into the full power and creativity of their developers, read this report on Developer Velocity: Lessons from Digital Leaders. For an example of how GitHub implemented the SPACE framework and found real-world ways to improve developers’ days, check out GitHub’s Good Day report.


We believe the tools that Microsoft has released will help you and your organization improve your overall developer productivity and take the next step on your Developer Velocity journey.



[1] Developer Velocity: Lessons from Digital Leaders on Accelerating Business Performance through Softwa.... Microsoft. March, 2021.

[2] Final reports contingent on sufficient user participation.

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