How can Delivery Management support developer experience?

updated on 03 April 2024

If you're part of a product team, or you're involved in the wider world of software development, you've likely heard about the importance of developer experience (DevEx) when it comes to productivity, employee satisfaction, and retaining talent.

According to a paper titled "DevEx: What actually drives productivity" developer experience can be improved by optimising feedback loops, reducing cognitive load, and enabling frequent flow states for developers.

While development tools play an important role, DevEx is also heavily impacted by human factors like having clear goals, feeling psychologically safe on teams, and minimising disruptions and delays. This is where Delivery Management can be your secret DevEx weapon.

What is Delivery Management?

Delivery Management is a discipline that's all about enabling teams to effectively deliver value to customers and users. As Jonny Williams describes in his book Delivery Management, it has three core aspects:

  1. Removing impediments that block the team from achieving their goals. This could include overcoming blockers, cross-team dependencies, skill gaps, or even indecisiveness within the team.
  2. Facilitating collaboration, decision-making, planning, and defining a path forward for teams through engaging practices.
  3. Coaching teams to adopt new approaches, maximise their potential, foster self-organisation, and cultivate an environment of trust and continuous improvement.

How Delivery Management boosts DevEx

When you map these enabling functions of Delivery Management to the three dimensions of DevEx, the benefits become clear:

Optimising feedback loops:
By removing impediments and facilitating process improvements, Delivery Management practices help streamline workflows so that developers can get faster feedback on their work and avoid bottlenecks. This could mean accelerating build times, simplifying code review processes, or breaking down organisational silos to enable seamless collaboration. Someone applying Delivery Management could also support the introduction of self-service feedback mechanisms for other teams such as forms and surveys to accelerate communication.

Reducing cognitive load:
Individuals applying Delivery Management can coach teams on practices such as process mapping, retrospectives, creating effective documentation, or leveraging self-service tools. By fostering a culture of continuous improvement, and introducing methods to avoid rework or toil it's possible to minimise the impact of unnescessary mental effort so developers can focus on delivering value. Importantly this might include helping developers to do less before they can do more.

Enabling flow states:
Through coaching and facilitation, Delivery Management approaches cultivate positive team cultures that incorporate psychological safety, clear goals, and autonomous ways of working. This allows developers to create and experience an effective environment that supports focus with fewer disruptions. Importantly, this coaching and facilitation is not limited to a team level, and can be leveraged at an organisational leadership level to ensure that developers have what they need.

While factors such as tooling have their place, Delivery Management uniquely targets the human side of DevEx. By embedding an array of enabling practices, supported by Delivery Management practitioners, organisations can boost productivity and innovation while increasing developer satisfaction and retention.

Investing in Delivery Management capabilities is an often overlooked but powerful way to level up your organisation's DevEx and reap the rewards of high-performing product teams. What team wouldn't want that secret weapon on their side?


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