Measuring Developer Experience – A Balanced Approach


Developer Experience is one of the most essential factors for high-performing teams and organizations. Thus, the obvious question is how to measure, assess and understand the status quo within your organization and team.

Today, we will dive deeper into how we can accurately measure and understand developer experience. When measuring DevEx, it might feel like trying to measure the immeasurable. How can we quantify the satisfaction, ease, and overall experience of engineers? Adopting a balanced approach that includes quantitative and qualitative measures is the answer.

The Balanced Approach to Measuring DevEx

The balanced approach to measuring DevEx involves a mix of different methods, each capturing another aspect of the experience:

  1. Open Surveys: Regular surveys allow developers to voice their opinions about their work environment, tools, and processes. Those surveys can cover a wide range of topics and get an in-depth understanding of the lived experience of engineers. They are also more time-consuming to answer and might lead to survey fatigue if overused. Read more on how to avoid survey fatigue here.
  2. Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS): Tools like the eNPS are a handy way to gauge general satisfaction levels. While eNPS can tell us if there’s a problem, it doesn’t necessarily tell us what the problem is. It also can be heavily influenced by the most recent events.
  3. Retrospectives: Retrospectives provide detailed feedback on a particular project or sprint. By reflecting on what went well and what could be improved, we gain invaluable insights into the developer experience during that period.
  4. Developer Productivity Metrics: Metrics such as bug resolution time or time taken to deploy a feature can serve as indirect measures of DevEx. However, these are trailing indicators and should be used cautiously. They give us some insight but don’t paint the whole picture. If you want to learn more about the danger of metrics, I will expand on this topic here.
  5. Turnover Rates: A high turnover rate can strongly indicate an unfavorable developer experience. If your team frequently loses members, it’s time to dig deeper and discover why. You can learn more about this and other red flags in this article.
  6. Feedback Channels: Encouraging developers to share their thoughts, concerns, or suggestions through open, anonymous channels can offer invaluable insights into their experience.

The Role of 1-on-1s in Measuring DevEx

One-on-one meetings can offer valuable insights into individual developer experiences. However, they also have their limitations. For instance, you only get feedback from people you speak to, potentially missing out on broader team trends. Additionally, people may hold back certain information they are uncomfortable sharing, meaning some issues may go unnoticed. This can essentially be an issue when they do not feel entirely safe. — a fact that leaders often are unaware of.

To overcome these limitations, consider combining 1-on-1s with other methods, such as customized surveys. Using 1-on-1 meetings to inform the creation of surveys can lead to a more comprehensive understanding of DevEx across the organization.

If this approach sounds interesting to you, I can help you with this. Through my Developer Experience Assessment Service, I am offering this combination of interviews and surveys as a solution to understand your team’s status quo, prioritize improvements and define actionable next steps. Let’s talk to explore if this is right for you.


Measuring developer experience is a crucial step toward improving it.

Using a balanced approach allows us to capture a comprehensive view of the developer experience in an organization, providing the necessary insights to make informed decisions. Remember, the ultimate goal isn’t to micromanage but to identify opportunities for improvement, align better with your team’s needs, and foster an environment conducive to high performance.

Focussing on metrics alone can lead to wrong conclusions and short-sighted actions. Covering a wide range of perspectives, using a systemic approach, and surveying engineers for their actual experience yields a more complete and realistic picture. This, in turn, will help you to identify the most impactful improvements.

Remember to check back soon for more insights into the world of DevEx. Next week, we will discuss practically improving the developer experience by focusing on psychological safety, stability, and work-life balance. Stay tuned!

How do you measure and assess the developer experience in your organization? What works for you, and what does not?


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