Developers will fuel your future innovation – here’s how they work best

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Companies all over the world, including local small businesses, are realising the benefits of having dedicated internal or outsourced developer talent to accelerate their digital transformation goals, optimise digital channels and build new features that attract and retain customers.

But if you really want developers to help fuel your innovation journey – and trust me, you do – you have to get in tune with what their unique motivations and ways of working are, and work with them to ensure they are getting everything they need to be productive.

Our most recent State of the Octoverse report, which analyses data from millions of developers, revealed some important insights about what inspires modern-day developers to perform at their peak. Here are some key learnings that every small-business owner should know.

1. Open source has revolutionised software development

Developers love working on open source and it’s easy to see why. Not only has open-source transformed software development and created an interconnected community of developers who work collaboratively across the world, it also puts the developer first and provides them with a united purpose. As such, open-source continues to attract a high number of developers who are eager to contribute to the community.

At its core, open-source development is a collective effort – almost every line of code that’s written builds on the code of millions of others.

2. Automation helps developers work better

By automating tasks, to remove friction and repetition, developers perform 27 per cent better on open source and 43 per cent better at work more broadly, as found in our State of the Octoverse report. But perhaps, most importantly, developers report higher fulfilment when using automation as well.

The key outtake for SMEs is to streamline workflows and automate tasks and processes as much as possible. Improved automation removes redundancies, errors and mundane tasks, meaning developer teams can plough their energy into solving critical challenges and driving innovation.

3. Share more information, more often

Our research found that one simple practice led to a 55 per cent increase in developer productivity, and that is documentation.

In simple terms, documentation is the sharing of any relevant information about a particular software project, and could include anything from guidelines on how best to contribute, or past issues to be aware of. Crucially, documentation was also found to increase confidence in software projects and invite more collaboration.

So, small businesses that engage in what is a very simple habit of information sharing, could potentially improve developer productivity and collaboration.

4. Hybrid work works for developers too

The concept of hybrid work has been suddenly thrust to the top of the agenda for many Australian businesses. The good news for developers? This way of working is by no means new or novel.

In fact, for over 25 years, open-source developers have been operating in distributed teams, working asynchronously and online. While this way of working might not mirror many businesses, this is naturally developers’ preferred way of working and an environment in which they thrive. The key to empowering developers, as with any worker, is to allow them a say in how and when they work. This is how they will truly thrive.

To future proof your small business for the digital world of tomorrow, you’ll need more than just good ideas. You will need the right talent to help you make them a reality. Working with developers is a virtual certainty at some point along this journey. But how you work with them, and how you empower them, could well determine the speed of success.