3 Reasons Why You Should Centralize Developer Tools, Processes, and People
Decentralization creates friction in software development workflows and frustration across teams. Here’s a closer look at some common issues and potential solutions.
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Have you ever worked for an organization that uses 15 overlapping tools, all with different requirements, inputs, and administrators? Pretty hectic, right? Every development team has its unique blend of tools that help it ship code, but it’s hard to keep all those tools seamlessly working together. We recently surveyed developer teams, and they cited fragmented tools as the most common challenge, with 39% of respondents calling it a significant challenge.
The decentralization of developer tools, processes, and people creates friction in software development workflows and frustration across teams. If you feel like you’re constantly shifting between tools or searching for information and wasting time to ineffective tools, you’re not alone — but you also don’t have to suffer any longer. Here’s a closer look at some common issues and potential solutions:
The Problem: Fragmented Tools
Managing fragmented tools is challenging, as they require context switching. Context switching among tools creates workflow friction that slows down developers and leads to essential information, tasks, or mission-critical communications slipping through the cracks. On the other hand, processes and tools that eliminate context switching enable people to focus deeply, work effectively, and become more productive. Here are other ways to battle tool fragmentation:
Build Connections With Robust Integrations
Developer teams are always going to need a slew of tools to help them build, ship, monitor and manage software. The key to keeping those tools working harmoniously is to focus on bringing them together and integrating them as much as possible through APIs and other forms of automation. Forrester found that only one-third of IT tasks are currently automated, which leaves teams overwhelmed by reptitive manual tasks. Building connective tissue between critical tools in a workflow and prioritizing automation helps teams spend less time managing tools and more time on driving value.
Look to ChatOps for Inspiration
Adopting ChatOps practices can be especially helpful for teams struggling with tool fragmentation. Using slash commands, webhooks, APIs, and other integration methods, a mature ChatOps practice brings all your comments, notifications, and metrics into one place. ChatOps creates a digital command center for your team, creating a single source of truth and making it easier to pull information from (and push information to) other tools in your workflow without context switching.
Leverage Open Source to Build Bespoke Integrations
Weak integrations present a critical challenge that teams face when building their interconnected toolset. Out-of-the-box integrations might promise seamless workflows, but many lack functionality that’s essential for your team, causing you to go back and forth between different tools. To truly avoid tool fragmentation, you’ll have to go beyond basic integrations. Many developers and teams embrace open source to ensure that they can extend and customize tools to fit their workflows more precisely. Open-source technologies allow you to flexibly build out more robust integrations with the functionality that your team needs.
The Problem: Fragmented Tools Create Fragmented Workflows
Software development has changed dramatically over the past year. Developers face more obstacles, and teams are experiencing increased demand to produce software faster, more securely, and with fewer resources than ever before. Businesses looking to remain competitive must invest in software capabilities. Gartner predicts that worldwide IT spending will exceed $4.5 trillion in 2022, with software engineers representing one of the fastest-growing job categories in the world. But shipping high-quality software requires tools and processes that enable developers to be productive, innovative, and agile as the market demands more and more from developers.
Nearly a quarter of the teams we surveyed said that fragile workflows hold their teams back from being productive. Survey respondents who indicated they have issues with workflows were 23.5% more likely to indicate they are facing rising expectations due to the pandemic compared to all developers (70% vs. 56.7%). Luckily, there’s a solution—building more robust workflows. Here’s how:
Build Better Integrations
As with fragmented toolsets, weak integrations are a common cause of fragile workflows. Developer teams need an abundance of tools to help them build, ship, monitor, and manage software, and the key to keeping these tools working seamlessly is to bring them together. Investing in more robust tool integrations keeps your team from continually dealing with broken or antiquated connections that keep them from staying in a state of flow.
Document and Refine Repeated Processes
Poorly defined processes can lead to delicate workflows and reduce your team’s ability to work asynchronously. Developers can get stuck waiting on others to complete their tasks or lose time searching for “What’s next?” Focus on keeping team knowledge in an easily accessible, central location so that team members can answer their own questions or know who to ask. Ensuring that repeated processes are clearly defined and documented, highly visible to all stakeholders and easy to keep current when things change helps create more robust workflows for everyone.
Invest in Fixing Broken Systems
Finally, outdated tools are a poor fit for your team’s needs. Technical debt can bring even the most productive teams to a screeching halt and push them into cycles of working and reworking on the same problems. Have a plan for working down technical debt, and invest in streamlining deployment processes that might be introducing friction into their daily workloads.
The Overall Benefit? Improved Productivity
Fragmented tools create fragmented workflows that add friction and slow down developer teams, negatively impacting productivity. This is an everyday struggle in the dev world and one that organizations need to invest in solving. With the rate of new software development, businesses cannot afford to hinder their developers. Open-source collaboration tools solve many problems and allow developers to focus on what they do best: innovating.
To stay competitive, organizations must invest in enabling productive team collaboration. From shipping faster and ensuring organizational security to retaining high-performing members, organizations must empower their teams not just to perform well as individuals, but to collaborate more effectively. Productivity is about working better together. Finding the right tools, following best practices and instilling a culture that is dedicated to fostering collaboration will keep developers aligned, productive, and innovative through this year and beyond.
Published at DZone with permission of Katie Wiersgalla. See the original article here.
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