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How does a DevOps team impact productivity?

Mike Winters
Mike Winters
April 26, 2021
The impact of a platform team on time spent on different tasks

What's the impact of a DevOps or platform team?

We're sharing the results of our developer productivity survey, highlighting some of the key survey takeaways:

  • Respondents spend, on average, more than 15 hours every week on tasks outside of writing application code. In the US alone, this time spent could be costing companies up to $61 billion/year*.
  • All of this time spent seems to translate to frustration. 54% of respondents identify slow feedback loops during the development process as a major (top 3) frustration, second only to difficult communication between teams and functional groups (55%).
  • And respondents know they’re not spending their time as effectively as they could be. More than 75% of respondents say the time they spend on specific tasks is time wasted, suggesting it could be put to more strategic use.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at how companies are organizing themselves, plus whether they plan to spend more and hire in DevOps (spoiler alert: yes, more hiring and spending is planned across the board).

What’s the impact of a platform team on developer productivity?

First, what exactly is a “platform”? It’s a term that’s been in use for a few years now, and this definition from Evan Bottcher in 2018 still applies nicely today (after all, once something is defined on Martin Fowler’s blog, that definition tends to stick for awhile):

A digital platform is a foundation of self-service APIs, tools, services, knowledge and support which are arranged as a compelling internal product. Autonomous delivery teams can make use of the platform to deliver product features at a higher pace, with reduced co-ordination.

As we studied how much time was being spent on different tasks, we were also looking closely at what factors had an impact on time spent.

Kubernetes usage was one such factor, as we found that respondents whose organizations are using Kubernetes spend, on average, 2.2 hours more every week on tasks outside of writing application code compared to respondents whose organizations aren’t yet using Kubernetes.

We also asked respondents how different tools were set up and managed internally:

  • Centrally managed and configured (e.g. by a platform team)
  • Individually managed and operated (e.g. by each application team)
  • Centrally managed but individually configured by each application team

This gave us an interesting opportunity to break out “time spent” data based on how different tools are managed and configured.

Our hypothesis was that respondents from organizations that used a platform team to administer various tools would, in turn, spend less time dealing with those tools themselves.

But that’s not what we found in the data! In both of the cases we examined, having a platform team manage and configure a tool did not have a meaningful impact on the amount of weekly time spent on that tool.

The impact of a platform team on time spent on different tasks

Some hypotheses:

  • At orgs where platform teams are in place, they’re still relatively new—meaning the “time saved” impact hasn’t been fully realized yet (but it could very well be eventually).
  • Platform teams are having a positive impact on “time spent,” and these averages represent an improvement vs. where a respondent's org used to be before the platform team was in place (but our data wouldn't surface an improvement like this one).
  • A “platform team” isn’t a magical wonder cure (just as DevOps isn’t a magical wonder cure), and even though it can be a huge help for an org, it doesn’t always have the impact the org hoped it would.

There’s nothing wholly conclusive to say about this data. But it’s definitely a finding we’d like to explore further and validate in our conversations with users and customers.

DevOps Budget and Team Growth

We still have a long way to go before we reach DevOps nirvana, that magical place where developers no longer waste hours every week on low-value work and development workflows are free of frustration.

And so it comes as no surprise a majority of respondent organizations plan to budget more toward DevOps and tooling and increase headcount in 2021 compared to 2020.

Organizations that are using Kubernetes are substantially more likely to be increasing budgets (79% vs. 69%) and growing their teams (86% vs. 77%).

The impact of a platform team on time spent on different tasks
The impact of a platform team on time spent on different tasks

Wrapping Up

If you have a vague (or not so vague) sense that your development team is wasting way more time than it needs to when building on Kubernetes, we’d say a) you’re probably right and b) we’re here to help.

Please feel free to reach out to schedule time to talk. Even if you’re not sure if Garden’s the right fit, we’re always happy to learn more about what you’re working on.

To see our complete survey analysis, you can download the report.

And to learn more about Garden and to get started, check out our product page.

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