The Top 6 Productivity Blockers for Software Developers

Productivity is difficult to measure from an external perspective. For example, PwC found that 57% of companies reported an increase in productivity from hybrid working during the COVID-19 pandemic. On the other hand, BlueOptima identified a 14% decrease in productivity compared to pre-pandemic levels.

It’s important for software development teams to identify what’s increasing or limiting their productivity, so you can create unique plans for each productivity blocker. Although it might save time, a “one size fits all” approach will rarely work.

In this article, we’ll list some of the major productivity blockers facing software developers, and explain how to overcome them.

1. The Wrong Methodology

Using the wrong methodology for projects can have a significant negative impact on developers’ productivity. For instance, let’s compare agile and waterfall methodologies. 

While agile is more common, it isn’t the best fit for every project. It could become a productivity blocker in certain instances because of its relentless pace, as development teams have little time between iterations.

The traditional waterfall methodology can limit workplace productivity too when used in the wrong project. For instance, the thorough planning stage and strict timelines can hinder productivity when significant changes need to be made to the project. 

To keep teams working effectively, it’s crucial to examine the specific needs of your project to choose the most suitable way of working. 

2. Poor Prioritisation

45% of developers say that poor prioritisation by leadership is a major productivity blocker. There are a few different reasons that this problem could arise:

  • Leadership does not have software developer experience or previous management experience
  • Poor communication between teams and leadership
  • Poor understanding of the project itself
  • A lack of deadlines (or deadlines not being enforced, leading to developers working on non-priority tasks for too long)

To tackle poor prioritisation, clear communication is key — and not just amongst developers. Staying in frequent contact with clients can ensure teams gain a proper understanding of their needs, deadlines and high-priority features.

Productivity automation tools can also streamline workflows and keep developers (and the project) on track. Even something as simple as a shared spreadsheet task list amongst the developer team can help immensely. Alternatively, teams that require a more in-depth list of features might prefer software like Jira.

3. Overworking

Developers who are happy in their position are estimated to be 6% more productive. Employee happiness, though difficult to quantify, is a key factor in maintaining productivity. One of the easiest ways a company can increase employee happiness is to ensure software developers aren’t overworked.

In the software industry, unreasonable deadlines commonly lead to overworking. To ensure a project is completed on time, developers are sometimes expected to work long hours (also known as “crunch time”), which leads to burnout and reduced morale.

To counteract this productivity blocker, make the mental wellbeing of developers a priority. Provide clear channels of communication so developers can flag when their workload is too much. In addition, hold regular team activities or events so that team members can establish a rapport and discuss issues openly and comfortably. 

4. A Lack of Documentation

A lack of documentation is a common issue among development teams, and a significant productivity blocker. Here’s why:

  • New developers will likely struggle to begin work without seeing documentation on the project
  • Without documentation, more experienced developers might have to spend time explaining code when they’re needed for work elsewhere
  • Identifying where bugs originate is easier with documentation

Make sure to consistently reinforce the importance of documentation in team meetings, or implement video documentation so developers don’t have to type up long reports. Whilst the use of video documentation is gathering momentum, it still has to be heavily structured and effectively tagged to ensure that key terms can easily be searched for, otherwise it can cause as many issues as it solves.

5.Technical Debt

52% of developers say technical debt was the biggest productivity blocker in their company. Technical debt is a catch-all term for a variety of problems, so here’s a couple of specific ways technical debt can affect your workplace productivity:

  • “Bit rot” technical debt caused by numerous incremental changes makes a system bloated and difficult to understand, which slows down work as developers struggle to understand the system and identify bugs.
  • Deliberate technical debt or technical debt caused by outdated design blocks productivity by necessitating updates to a system when the initial design could have been better.

Encouraging a culture of continuous maintenance by dealing with sources of technical debt as they appear can prevent technical debt from accruing and blocking productivity. While you can also encourage developers to avoid creating technical debt altogether, it’s sometimes necessary to use a “quick fix” when there isn’t sufficient time to make major changes to a project.

6. Reliance on Manual Workflows

McKinsey states that only 5% of executives ranked access to quality tools as one of their top 3 enablers for software development success. This is in spite of their research recognising the importance of automation and digital solutions in software development, specifically that it “enables better productivity, visibility and coordination”. 

Automation can significantly improve productivity by both eliminating repetitive manual tasks and providing actionable information via developer analysis. 

Drive Efficiencies in Your Development Teams with BlueOptima

Before eliminating productivity blockers, you need to identify which blockers exist on your team. With our Developer Analytics tool, managers can quickly and easily locate areas of their team that require additional support or significant alterations. 

BlueOptima’s digital solutions can help businesses increase productivity by providing in-depth analysis on developer output. Our metrics help you measure your developer’s efficiency, as well as the quality of the code they create.

Find out more about our Developer Analytics tool today and unlock the full potential of your team.