Eight Qualities of Top Tier Developer Experience Engineers

by Alastair Wilkes in July 8th, 2022

Growing a Developer Experience Engineering Team with Reliable Test Health Metrics

Developers are at the core of every successful software engineering organization. Effective developers are born out of happy developers that have time to innovate and not just react and triage. Organizations looking to nurture developer innovation and happiness need advocates for healthy developer experiences.

Positive developer experience balances individual developers' needs with those of the entire engineering team. For companies focusing on improving developer experience, prioritizing personnel that is focused on Developer Experience is critical, particularly through the role of a Developer Experience Engineer.

The Value of Developer Experience Engineers

Developer Experience (also referred to by the acronym DX, or DevEx) involves the people, processes, and tools that make up the environment of the developer and influence their experiences, for better or for worse. These elements directly affect the feelings and output of the developer, which is why organizational culture and leadership are so important to creating a positive Developer Experience. 

Developer Experience includes the entire socio-technical system that a developer interacts with to plan and produce software. Everything from learning a platform to the very first line of code, and through promotion into production. 

From documentation to SDKs to version control, monitoring, and observability – everything a developer touches will have an impact on their happiness and productivity. A culture focused on creating and maintaining a positive Developer Experience will always serve to make developers happier, faster, and more innovative with their jobs.

Developer Experience Engineers ensure developers have the right tools, processes, culture, and work environment to maximize their productivity and deliver the highest quality software. Also known as a DXE, Developer Experience Engineers serve as team leaders and are critical to the overall success (business and otherwise) of the engineering team. 

Depending on the size of an organization, the Developer Experience Engineer team might be made up of a single individual or goes as far as a team of ten and beyond. 

The goal of a Developer Experience Engineer is to seek out new ways to maximize developer productivity, engagement, happiness, and their contribution to the business’s bottom line. Developer Experience Engineers do this by creating an ideal work environment for developers to create, innovate, and ultimately deliver the highest quality software and apps. 

8 Vital Qualities Found in Top Developer Experience Engineers

The impact of elite Developer Experience Engineers can be felt across the entire organization and at the individual developer level when vital qualities are prioritized. Top Developer Experience Engineers are skilled at:

  1. Facilitating developer happiness by fostering a culture of empowerment
  2. Encouraging developer innovation, creativity, and experimentation
  3. Communicating with developers and key stakeholders
  4. Balancing developer experience with customer experience
  5. Understanding risk, and guiding developers accordingly
  6. Pushing developer velocity without sacrificing quality 
  7. Finding areas to eliminate waste or bottlenecks, through automation, standardization, and organization
  8. Balancing individual developer needs while focusing on the bottom line and business goals

By working to eliminate issues developers face during their workdays and the run of a project, Developer Experience Engineers nurture the most efficient and satisfied development teams possible.

Think of Developer Experience Engineering as the Swiss Army Knife of Your Org

Like the useful multi-tool, Developer Experience Engineers take on a Swiss Army knife role in organizations. First, DXEs drive revenue growth, as they are always keeping the business’s bottom line in mind when assessing protocols and practices. By always hunting down ways to improve the practices, tools, and productivity of developers, Development Experience Engineers boost revenue.

Developer Experience Engineers impact the software end product. DXEs do this by supporting developers in the never-ending quest to deliver high-quality, error-free code as quickly as possible. By creating a culture of open communication and ownership, and always searching for new ways to streamline, automate, reduce waste, reduce test cycle times, and ultimately boost developer velocity, the Developer Experience Engineers helps to create the best, highest quality product possible. 

Effective Developer Experience Engineering empowers teams through standardization and optimization of practices and workflow. DXEs are always on the lookout for ways to speed up the workflow of developers and release times. By embracing the use of smart automation and modern dev tools, DXEs help to skyrocket the efficiency of the development team and the entire organization.

Finally, Developer Experience Engineers support clients and end-users. By supporting developers with better processes and tools, DXEs empower teams with more time for creativity and innovation, helping to improve the customer experience, DXEs support the organizational goal of offering top-notch user experiences with products.

Developer Experience Engineering is Table Stakes to Stay Competitive

In today’s ultra-competitive market, establishing Developer Experience Engineering is critical to increasing developer productivity, speed, and happiness – all of which drive critical business goals.

Developer Experience Engineers eliminate waste and unnecessary manual toil by constantly assessing bottlenecks in the workflow, like giant test suites or slow test run times. By identifying issues that bog down developers, Developer Experience Engineers can implement forcing functions to reduce mistakes, support a swiftly flowing CI/CD pipeline through automation, and ensure developers use the best, most optimized set of tools to ship code. Constantly assessing and seeking to improve the work environment and protocols of developers, DXEs make the entire functioning of an organization more efficient.

Developer Experience Engineers are also vital to boosting the speed of development cycles. While developers understand the nitty-gritty of crafting stellar software and apps, they can fall victim to organization issues, lack of time to optimize processes, or handling communication with stakeholders. The Developer Experience Engineer seeks to make life speedier for developers by streamlining and standardizing processes, as well as creating a symbiosis between teams. 

The role of the Developer Experience Engineer is necessary as they help calculate the impact of tools and workflows on development teams. As an advocate for developers AND the business, DXE teams optimize processes and help set standard tech stacks to improve the efficiency of development teams, giving them time to focus on delivering the highest quality software.

DXEs alleviate developers from task switching to dealing with maintenance, overhead, and scaling demands. When the DXE takes on more organizational tasks, this allows developers to do what they do best: write great code. By seeking to optimize the work environment and flow of the development team, Developer Experience Engineers allow developers to focus on code, experiment and innovate. And that creates happier developers.

By prioritizing the health and happiness of developers, so they can operate at peak efficiency, the Developer Experience Engineer also ensures an organization can crush its business goals. Because happier developers result in faster, higher-quality releases.

5 Test Run Bottleneck Busting Tools for Developer Experience Engineers

If your organization is ready to bring a Developer Experience Engineer into the fold, it’s critical to have a data-driven pipeline to support optimization and developer happiness. By harnessing data from your existing test runs, you can speed up your delivery outputs without draining your developer resources.

With Launchable’s Dev Intelligence Platform, teams adding Developer Experience Engineering to their org can speed up their test cycles with smarter testing, fixing testing bottlenecks for development teams. A turnkey machine learning platform, Launchable is designed to work with your existing testing tools and languages, and connects within minutes. Whether your team is new to Developer Experiencing Engineering or you have an established practice, connect your test suite and have Launchable’s ML model get to work optimizing your test suites with:

  1. Predictive Test Selection: Push more commits by identifying and running tests with the highest probability of failing based on code and test metadata to speed up the dev feedback loop
  2. Flaky Tests Insights: Launch fearlessly by identifying the top flaky tests in a test suite and prioritize fixing the right tests
  3. Test Session Duration Insight: Monitor the health of your test suite by tracking increases in test session time which implies that the developer cycle time has been trending up.
  4. Test Session Frequency Insight: Flag signals for poor testing metrics like increased cycle time, reduced quality, or fewer changes flowing through the pipeline by identifying which tests are being run less often.
  5. Test Session Failure Ratio Insight: Keep your releases stable by tracking tests that are failing more often. An increase in test session failure ratio signals that a release is becoming unstable especially if the bump is in post-merge tests.

Start using your test suite data to build a smarter data-driven pipeline for better developer experience with Launchable. Request a proof of concept today.


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