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Towards a Theory of Developer Satisfaction and Productivity


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Presentation of IEEE TSE Journal First paper at ICSE 2020

Developer satisfaction and work productivity are important
considerations for software companies. Enhanced developer satisfaction may improve the attraction, retention and health of employees, while higher productivity should reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction through faster software improvements. Many researchers and companies assume that perceived productivity and job satisfaction are related and may be used as proxies for one another, but these claims are a current topic of debate. There are also many social and technical
factors that may impact satisfaction and productivity, but which factors have the most impact is not clear, especially for specific development contexts. Through our research, we developed a theory articulating a bidirectional relationship between software developer job satisfaction and perceived productivity, and identified what additional social and technical
factors, challenges and work context variables influence this relationship. The constructs and relationships in our theory were derived in part from related literature in software engineering and knowledge work, and we validated and extended these concepts through a rigorously designed survey instrument. We instantiate our theory with a large software company, which suggests a number of propositions about the relative impact of various factors and challenges on developer satisfaction and perceived productivity. Our survey instrument and analysis approach
can be applied to other development settings, while our findings lead to concrete recommendations for practitioners and researchers.

Margaret-Anne Storey, Tom Zimmermann, Chris Bird, Jacek Czerwonka, Brendan Murphy and Eirini Kalliamvakou

Published in: Engineering
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Towards a Theory of Developer Satisfaction and Productivity

  1. 1. Towards a Theory of Developer Satisfaction and Productivity Margaret-Anne Storey, Thomas Zimmermann, Chris Bird, Jacek Czerwonka, Brendan Murphy, Eirini Kalliamvakou July 8th, ICSE 2020 Journal First IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering @margaretstorey Special Thanks Cassandra Petrachenko Engineers at Microsoft
  2. 2. A Sabbatical at Microsoft Engineering System Team Spring 2017
  3. 3. Theory about Job Satisfaction and Performance (Judge et al. 2001) 3 Job Satisfaction Job Performance Factors
  4. 4. 4 Work context variables Overall Job Satisfaction Productivity Satisfaction Social and Technical Factors Social and Technical Factors Challenges Goal: develop a developer satisfaction and productivity theory ?
  5. 5. A literature review and onsite interviews: 30 factors, 15 challenges Jan-March 2017 Second survey 465 developers satisfaction, importance of 44 factors, and impact of 24 challenges Oct 2017 First survey 591 engineers revealed additional 14 factors, 9 challenges April 2017 Methodology5
  6. 6. The final survey with 44 factors, Fall 20176
  7. 7. 7 Challenges Factors A link indicates satisfaction with a factor was significantly lower in the presence of a challenge:
  8. 8. 8 Engineering system Hardware Engineering processes Collaboration tools Engineering tools Composite factors Work environmentPhysical environment Interruptions # people in workspace Private office Impactful Work Learning skills for future Work vision Work type Can achieve goals Impact of work Work culture Manager Team culture Collaborative team Organization culture Important contributor Skills are well used Important team member
  9. 9. Linear regression models with standardized coefficients shows how different factors influence overall job satisfaction 9
  10. 10. 10 Linear regression models with standardized coefficients shows how different factors influence perceived productivity
  11. 11. 11 Instantiating the theory for a specific cohort of developers
  12. 12. External validity Single company, but diverse dev contexts Internal validity Ambiguity in questions Response bias Construct validity Self reported productivity Perceived importance of factors Limitations12 Transferability and credibility: Our findings align with other rigorous research [Murphy-Hill, Graziotin] and resonated with our study subjects throughout the study.
  13. 13. Developer Satisfaction Perceived Productivity Impactful work Important contributor 13 Appreciation Work culture Work-life balance Autonomy Can complete tasks Engineering system Technical skills Work environment Developer satisfaction and productivity theory @margaretstorey
  14. 14. 14 Hello ICSE colleagues and friends….