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Measuring software developer productivity one task at a time

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What's good for software development productivity -- and what's not

Designer: Neva Maniscalco/Techtarget

It's not easy being a software developer these days. First, employers want you to have all the technical skills plus be a marketing whiz, a UX expert and a collaborative communicator -- all while multitasking your brains out for perhaps not enough money.

Given all that, it's amazing that there is any software development productivity at all. Not surprisingly, what makes developers feel productive is coding -- but not just any kind of coding. Coding that involves implementing new features, testing, bug fixing and code review is A-OK and number one on the productivity list. But that other kind of coding -- the one that involves testing, debugging and maintenance -- makes developers unproductive and requires meetings.  In other words, there's a bit of developers speaking out of both sides of their mouths at once here, but if you dig a little deeper, you start to understand it better.

Meetings encourage software development productivity, and developers feel almost as productive as when they're coding -- the good coding. But meetings also make developers feel very nonproductive, and in fact almost 60% said it was the worst thing they can do with their time. And reading, again, depends on what they're reading. Documents and reports make them feel very productive -- email, not so much. Confused yet?

That's OK, we are too. But Murphy and her team felt these results reflected the laser focus needed to be a developer and the fact that activities viewed as extraneous, are, in this field, perhaps more distracting and thus put a tremendous damper on software development productivity.

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