The SPACE of Developer Productivity

From AcaWiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Citation: Nicole Forsgren, Margaret-Anne Storey, Chandra Maddila, Thomas Zimmermann, Brian Houck, Jenna Butler The SPACE of Developer Productivity.
Internet Archive Scholar (search for fulltext): The SPACE of Developer Productivity
Wikidata (metadata): Q106098993


Describes "myths" of developer productivity:

  • Productivity is all about developer activity
  • Productivity is only about individual performance
  • One productivity metric can tell us everything
  • Productivity Measures are useful only for managers
  • Productivity is only about engineering systems and developer tools

Proposes a multi-dimensional framework for understanding developer productivity, SPACE, with potential things to measure for each:

  • Satisfaction and well-being: satisfaction, efficacy (adequate tools and resources), burnout (note productivity and satisfaction are correlated)
  • Performance: quality, impact (best evaluated as outcomes rather than output)
  • Activity: design and coding, continuous integration and deployment, operational activity (note almost impossible to measure all facets of developer activity)
  • Communication and collaboration: discoverability, how quickly work is integrated, onboarding
  • Efficiency and flow: number of handoffs, perceived ability to stay in flow and complete work, interruptions, total/value-added/wait time

Proposes example metrics for SPACE at three levels:

  • Individual
  • Team
  • System

Also provides an example of use of SPACE for SRE/incident response teams.

Recommendations on using the SPACE framework:

  • Capture metrics across multiple dimensions of the framework (but too many metrics may lead to confusion)
  • At least one of the metrics should be perceptual (such as survey data)
  • Remember that metrics signal what is important
  • Use any metric with caution, no metric is a perfect proxy
  • Be cognizant of developer privacy: only report aggregate metrics at team and above levels, though some individuals may find insight in their individual metrics
  • Check for biases and norms

Using the SPACE framework will result obtain some metrics in tension; this is by design.

Theoretical and Practical Relevance

Interview with one of the authors