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Developer experience engineers aim to increase ROI while keeping developers happy

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CircleCI report finds that making life easier for software engineers can improve the bottom line and speed up innovation.

Image: Shutterstock/roman-Samborskyi

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Twitter has one, and Google does, too. Your company may need a developer experience engineer as well to keep the software team satisfied and productive instead of bored and frustrated. That’s the advice from a new report from CircleCI, “Why Developer Experience Engineers are the key to accelerating your business.”

CircleCI describes developer experience engineers as “the Q to 007 or the Alfred to the many Batpeople in the developer Batcave.” The ideal DXE has enough experience to understand how to optimize workflows and eliminate waste. The person also should understand the business side of the company and know how to make “developer-centric, product-minded decisions.”

SEE: Stack Overflow’s new Collectives help software companies communicate with devs using their products (TechRepublic) 

The DXE report recommends that developer experience managers should have these qualifications:

  • Has experience managing software development teams
  • Has a deep understanding of modern development practices and tools
  • Knows how to establish team objectives aligned to business goals
  • Is a process expert that can organize and disseminate information
  • Is someone who feels comfortable making decisions

 The report also suggests that a developer experience expert should focus on these outcomes:

  • Revenue growth: How did software drive this figure?
  • Improve end-user experience: How can software engineering improve dwell time or grow the user base?
  • Increased quality of releases: How do we ship more stable code and create more innovative features?
  • Efficiency: How many times a day are developers merging to the main branch? What are the potential speed gains of alternative tooling?

Developer advocates are already at work in various roles:

  • Engineering manager, engineering effectiveness, developer productivity
  • Software engineer, developer productivity
  • Senior software engineer, developer experience
  • Software engineer, web platform
  • Software engineer, developer platform
  • Software engineer, developer platform infrastructure
  • Backend engineer, developer experience

The idea of “employee experience” has gained ground recently, as leaders manage distributed teams working in many time zones in various home settings. Now that offices are starting to reopen, managers and team members have a new challenge: adjusting to a hybrid office plan with some people in the office all the time, some people in occasionally and some people working from home full-time. As Esther Shein explained in her article about digital employee experience managers, this role is well-paid and in-demand. A recent survey by Nexthink found that one in five IT professionals spend more than 70% of their week working on projects related to the digital employee experience. This includes providing a seamless digital experience for employees to attract new talent and retain existing employees, the report said.

In another recent article, Patrick Gray explained why it’s time for a chief of workforce experience. He described the ideal candidate for the role as someone who understands humans, technology and design, a skill set that is “rarely found without actively seeking and nurturing the combination, and creating roles supporting and encouraging these combined capabilities.” He suggested that companies start small with an initial team of three to five people with a combination of tech, HR and design experience. This group’s first task could be to collect best practices that colleagues have identified over the last year and share this wisdom with the entire company. 

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