Global Software Development Productivity Declines 4% in Q3 2021

Published: 11 November 2021

The BlueOptima Global Benchmark Report shows that software development productivity declines and the industry continues to suffer from turbulence in Q3 2021, reversing the recovery previously seen in Q2.

High software development productivity is perceived as an essential attribute for many teams and there is increasing pressure to optimise development teams. However, what does the reality of software developer productivity look like? According to the 2021 Q3 Global Benchmark Report, there has been a decline in productivity across the globe, negating the previous gains seen in  Q2. There are a number of factors that may have influenced this, including the gradual opening up of economies and the disruption inherent in adapting to the new ways of working. 

Software Development Productivity by Industry 

When we dived into the data to see if this was consistent to all industries, it was intriguing to see that there was one exception, Consumer Cyclicals. Consumer Cyclicals contradicted the overall trend of software development productivity, seeing an improvement in productivity by 11.53% to 1.67 BCE/Day, still 4.5% below the global average BCE/Day but showing consistent quarter-on-quarter improvements. Meanwhile, all other areas saw a drop in productivity. The greatest decline in software development productivity for the quarter was in the Healthcare sector with a -14.55% decrease, a continuing trend for the sector. Healthcare companies have probably been more directly affected by the pandemic going into ‘crisis mode’ at the outset. Therefore they most likely over committed during COVID in order to keep up and now their software development productivity is declining. Potentially we are now seeing the sector slow down as it starts to recover, suggesting it will eventually rise again to a new normal.

Software Development Productivity by Region?

Now if we take a look at software development productivity by geographical region, again there was a decline in almost every region except for Eastern Europe. However, this was expected as Eastern Europe has experienced a gradual growth for almost two years now. The region, consisting of 1.8M developers or 8% of the global total, continues to be the most maintainable and productive region across the globe followed by Asia-Pacific and Western Europe. Eastern Europe is also one of the regions with the lowest cost to deliver coding effort, suggesting it is a highly economical choice for many businesses.

The Quality of Code Globally

Overall, the quality of code delivered by software development teams across the globe during the quarter showed incremental improvements on the previous quarter. The level of maintainable code reached 94.22%, indicating that organisations are most likely continuing to adhere to best practices and maintain their development and coding standards, even in the face of a decline in productivity. As we are approaching the holiday season it is worth noting that historical trends show that there might be a decline in software development productivity in the lead up to the new year. It will be intriguing to see how the year-on-year trends compare in the next data set being released in January 2022. 

What is the BlueOptima Global Benchmark Report?

In a time where digital transformation is a continuing priority for organisation, understanding the productivity of your software development team/s and their output quality is essential. This is why each quarter, BlueOptima releases a Global Benchmark Report which provides a quantitative analysis on the performance of software developers across the globe. We bring together data from hundreds of thousands of software developers located in more than 30 countries and present an analysis of their performance for the quarter. The data is assessed using BlueOptima’s Developer Analytics (DA) platform which calculates a developers Coding Effort (CE), a global standard for measuring software developer productivity. Coding Effort is a metric derived from objectively measuring a software developer’s work outputs, specifically changes in static source code metrics, and the context within which that output was delivered then benchmarking that against all other developers. 

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