How Developer Enablement Benefits Software Organizations

Developer enablement is about the tools and approaches that can dramatically increase the potential we can have as individuals. It can impact productivity and happiness, profits and retention. Development tools make it easier for engineers to deploy products, allowing them to focus on building a product.

QCon London 2022 hosted a developer enablement track. Stuart Davidson, Director of Skyscanner, spoke about developer enablement.

Davidson referenced force multiplication by dtic.mill who describes it as a factor or combination of factors that gives personnel or weapons (or any other materiel) the ability to perform greater feats than without it

He turned force multiplication into his definition of developer empowerment:

“An ability that, when added and used by a team, greatly increases that team’s potential and thus improves the likelihood of success.”

Davidson mentioned that empowerment is where you allow others to do the work they need to do. It doesn’t do the work for them. Empowerment increases the potential of others. When you discover you’re a strategic impediment, you have the potential to become a strategic enabler, Davidson said.

Team flow is a great measure of when you activate the team, Davidson said. The better the enablement, the higher the ratio of enablement investment to improvement in the engineering teams they serve.

Activating enablers can also have an impact, Davidson mentioned. For example, platform teams can empower themselves by applying ideas and using tools they themselves provide to other teams.

Davidson said empowerment doesn’t necessarily give full autonomy. Autonomy comes with constraints and guardrails.

Enabling isn’t necessarily the technology, Davidson said. Teamwork and adherence to open standards can be a force multiplier for development organizations, such as Kubernetes and OpenTelemetry.

Suhail Patel, People Engineer at Monzo, spoke about building tools for the developer experience at QCon London 2022.

Monzo’s developer tools help encode and automate their organizational processes. Patel mentioned that Monzo decided to create their own chat system, allowing them to innovate and better serve their customers. The chat system quickly became a centralized corporate hub for more back-office functions across the enterprise.

For engineers, Monzo leverages tools like a CLI to access backend services and interact with backend components (like dynamic configuration setup). This makes it easier to use the services and build functionality on top of them, Patel said.

With development tools, engineers can focus on building a product and not have to worry about the complexity of deploying it. This allows things to be tried at a much higher speed, Patel concluded. Tools can provide a pleasant experience for developers.

There will be a track on developer enablement in the next QCon Plus May 10-20, 2022 conference.

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