Project Management and Staffing are the two common and most important operational tasks for the service providers in the IT Industry, along with productivity maintenance and performance management. However, the pandemic has turned the tables around and complicated the core of operational metrics for the IT companies all around the world. The overwhelming impact has forced people to self-isolate and work from home. And to stay sustainable in this environment, companies have had to adapt to more flexible management approaches. The trends in the industry have taken a different direction as well and to keep up with the pace, companies are now incorporating the new software development trends into their work environment.
“There’s a whole new era of change. Software Development is in the new phase and is evolving”
The lockdown and office closures have created new chaotic patterns for the operational teams and IT companies are re-evaluating their analytics, software development operations, productivity measures and budget allocations.
Let’s get a clear picture of how 2020 has changed the way IT industry works and where does software development stand –
- There is an unparalleled demand for capacity and speed.
- Remote working has provided an untapped potential for software development companies in the staffing process, as developers are expanding their ecosystems.
- New ways of communication have been enabled i.e. “touch-less” & “virtual” approaches.
- Work from home has affected productivity maintenance as some teams find collaboration or collaborative productivity hard.
Software development has been the pillar for many companies and it continues to be so in 2020 as well. The industry is full of opportunities, however, the landscape is changing. Existing technical skills and practices are being updated constantly. Which is why businesses are picking up and learning the new practices i.e. trends and evolutions in the software development space.
In this article, we will discuss how the industry is evolving and where it is headed, which will help you get insights about the software development landscape. This will help you in further improving your team of developers and keeping up with the rapidly changing industry trends. Furthermore, we will tackle the management-related challenges i.e. hiring, outsourcing and managing developers, creating a top-performing team.
Managing Software Development
Tech companies face a lot of challenges in software development. What are these challenges? Have the issues shifted over the years? Let’s have a look and analyze how they can be tackled by the managers.
According to the report by Coding Sans, Capacity is the biggest challenge, due to its limitation, while the backlog is full. The second challenge being Knowledge Sharing, which suffers when the deadline is near and the backlogs are full.
Biggest Challenges in Software Development
Capacity – This challenge is overcome by implementing agile methods to improve existing practices by training developers to use them and hiring more developers to increase the work-load. Recruiting or outsourcing to contractors, both practices work.
Sharing Knowledge – Sharing knowledge is a means to optimize work routine, mentoring juniors and setting up a system for software developers. Pair programming and code reviews are the most common ways to share knowledge.
Though the challenges differ for developers and managers due to the differences in their job roles. Let’s take a look at the chart which depicts the biggest challenges faced by Managers, over the years 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Biggest Challenges faced by Managers
It was noted that the top most challenge for managers was Capacity, followed by second hiring talent, which has not changed for the last 3 years. The lack of workforce is still an industry-wide problem faced by the managers and naturally, the developers are less worried about hiring and more concerned about knowledge sharing between the team members.
Furthermore, there can be seen a significant disparity in Time management over the years, which has declined for good. And the rest of the challenges are evening out.
Outsourcing Software Development
Dealing with Capacity is the top-most challenge faced by tech companies, along with hiring developers.
“Outsourcing software development seems to work as a quick fix for the Capacity & Hiring problem.”
According to the report, 37,38% of the companies have fully or partly outsourced software development to contractors in the last 12 months, while 62,52% haven’t fully grasped the idea.
The percentage further divides into three categories – Software Development Companies, Freelancers and Both. 56% of the work was outsourced to the software development companies, 25% to the freelancers and rest 19% was mixed of both.
Out of the companies who opted for outsourcing, only 17.17% were dissatisfied with their outsourced work.
These numbers clearly show that the demand for software development companies i.e. agencies or contractors has surged up. Companies facing staffing challenges are now more inclined towards outsourcing the work, and here is why –
Around 83% of the developers are either not actively looking for a job or interested in new job opportunities. This may be because they are highly satisfied with their current job, which leaves less managers with the low bandwidth of talent available in the market.
Only 17.3% of developers are actively looking for a job, while 25.1% are not interested in new opportunities.
Considering the employment status of the developers, 70.99% of professional developers are already employed as a full-timer. Looking at the data, a total of 92% of the professional developers are employed at-least as a part-timer. 12% of all the hired software developers are students and 8.9% freelancers or contractors.
Though the data was recorded during the pre-pandemic period and since the dynamics have now changed, there has certainly been a rise in outsourcing of software development. Even the companies which were not open to it before are now making a gradual shift towards the new ‘redefined’ scenario.
Remote work is how companies are sustaining in 2020. It’s not the ‘future’ anymore, it’s the current scenario.
There has been a dramatic acceleration in Digital Transformation and the way of working has completely changed.
“Remote working is the present”
76.54% of the companies allowed remote work in the past year and more companies are planning on implementing it.
At the rate at which things have changed or are changing and companies are adapting to the new working practices, the trends show that there will be further rise in remote work culture.
Tools and Tech
In this section, we’ll glance over the most popular programming languages and tools used for testing, project management, version control and communication. With time, new technologies are gradually pacing up and gaining momentum.
Programming Languages Trends –
Going further down the list, TypeScript (26.32%) has edged out Python and C in terms of popularity. Additionally, Ruby and Swift lost ground over the years.
Development Tools Trends –
A wide variety of tools are used by the developer teams for testing, project management and communicating while working on a project. There are a plethora of tools all of which can not be listed on charts but here are the most popular software development tools in 2020. The following charts, in no particular order, are from the Stack Overflow and Coding Sans reports of Software Developing Trends 2020.
GitHub (82%) is the most commonly used Collaborative Tool by professional developers. Slack is the second favourite of 53%.
For Testing – 75.25% of the companies use tools for software testing. Out of which, Jest (34.22%) is the most used testing tool, followed by Selenium (29.66%).
24.75% of the companies do not use any software testing tools and when asked about the limitations of using software testing tools, these were the factors that were mentioned.
According to the survey, the chart below shows the most popular Project Management, Communication and SCM (Source Control Client) Tools of 2020.
Slack remains the most popular tool used by developer teams.
Earlier, most of the software development companies used to communicate face-to-face, the project deadlines, milestones or releases were mostly done in-person. Around 60% of the tasks were communicated via in-person meetings, followed by 46% which relied on tracking tools.
Though considering other factors, there has been a massive trend change in recent times and Tools like Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams and Zoom have gained immense popularity, taking a step forward. Due to the fast-paced digitalization happening around the world at the moment, the demand for communications has rapidly increased. So far so, Google Hangouts (now termed as Google Meets) and Microsoft have made these tools free for organizations to use. This is the result of more companies allowing remote work.
The tech companies are always on the lookout to update their tech tools to improve their overall work efficiency. Innovations happen quickly and hence, there is always ongoing research about new development tools. Around 75% of developers tend to learn new technology at least every few months or once a year to keep improving their skillset.
Hiring developers is a crucial part for companies and it is a challenge for managers, along with employee retention.
These are the hiring practices used over the last 3 years and out of all the methods of hiring developers, it’s seen that employee referral is still the most popular one. Followed by in-house recruitment (14.16%). However, Online portals and recruitment agencies have been slowly gaining momentum.
Currently, with most of the work being handled remotely, the usage of online portals might see a further increment.
Looking at the criteria of the companies, while hiring developers – “willingness to learn” remains the most essential trait. Cultural Fit being the second, followed by Technical Skill Evolution and then comes the work experience which seems a little less important now than it was years ago.
“Soft Skills have surpassed College Degree”
Companies are now emphasizing on factors other than formal education, for instance – Soft Skills are also evaluated and according to the survey, they have surpassed formal education. However, when the professional developers were asked for their stance on formal education, this was the result –
Importance of Formal Education
Around 84% of the professional developers feel that formal education is at least somewhat important. However, 16% believe that it is not at all necessary.
“Hands-on experience experience matters more than having a piece of paper – Education Degree”
Another challenge for managers after hiring the right talent is to retain them when there is already scarcity in the industry. Managers need to keep their developers’ team motivated, while they work to keep them satisfied with the job. Most of the companies keep their team motivated by showing team spirit and providing challenging or engaging work. There’s also an emphasis on Autonomy and creating a unique product.
While these are the traits the managers look for while hunting talent, let’s have a look at what developers expect from a job.
Company’s culture seems to be the most important factor for the developers, which is why employer branding is important. Most of the companies put themselves out there as a workplace with a cool working environment but if the employer branding is done right, it will make your company more visible and transparent for potential employees, making them more likely to apply.
For this, there has to be honesty, with a clear picture of the company’s policies and culture. Furthermore, the job position has to be defined carefully and clearly, stating the requirements and task description of the job. Once the accurate picture is out there in the market, the hiring process is more effective.
Performances of the developers differentiate them into average and top-performing teams. The performance is measured on various metrics.
As you can see, working software is the number 1 measurement for top performers. Completed tasks come next in line. Though the difference between the measurements is small, it is significant.
It is noted that top-performers focus more on code readability and test coverage. When it comes to problems faced by them, they face delivery problems with the lack of defined deliverables and making correct estimations.
Whereas, the biggest problem faced by average developers is unrealistic expectations, followed by the two same problems faced by top-performers. Along with that, there are also issues of missing key skills or coordination.
Meanwhile, managers face problems such as unrealistic expectations, estimations, requirements and prioritization and the budgeting.
There have been ground-breaking changes in the tech industry since last year. The pandemic has altered software development trends in one way or another. From hiring teams to retaining them, managing teams to meeting the business objectives – the way of working and task implementation has taken a new direction.
This article has covered all the current trends, what challenges do the software development company managers face, how the organizations are altering their tactics and the estimations of what is there to come in future.
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