After working with hundreds of organizations who’ve modernized their application portfolio, we’ve created the following technique to find and reduce developer toil:
Like all self-help advice, these steps seem simple at first. But, their simplicity is more about usability: complex, powerful processes have been made simple so that they work.
The other thing to keep in mind is the first principle of all improvement schemes: you actually need to do it, and keep doing it. Developer toil is like weeds: you have to garden consistently, not just once.
What does being buried by tech debt look like? Here’s an example from a VMware Tanzu Labs client engagement:
The product team we worked with was struggling to deliver features quickly, at one point taking an average of over 400 hours to complete a feature!
In late September of 2021, we introduced the team to Developer Toil Audits. Using this process, we refocused the team to prioritize fixing the developer toil that mattered the most for their problems. In this case, our goal was to help them reduce their story cycle time, the time it takes from idea to working software.
After the developer toil audit, they moved from delivering a story approximately every two weeks to delivering a story daily!
Faster Release Cycles Create Better Software
Understanding Tech Debt and Developer Toil