Is “you build it, you run it” the secret to happiness for developers? – TechRepublic

Atlassian research finds that software engineers like the autonomy that comes along with increased responsibility.

Atlassian State of Developer Report on tools
Atlassian’s survey of 2,182 developers found that the number of tools used on a regular basis is increasing. Image: Atlassian

As DevOps becomes the norm for software companies, developers seem to like the work habits and responsibilities that come with it, according to a new survey from Atlassian. The company’s State of the Developer Report found that the “you build it, you run it” approach pays off in several ways.

Fifty-nine percent of the 2,182 developers in the survey use a YBIYRI approach with 21% saying this practice is well established and 38% saying they are new to this approach. Teams that are new to YBIYRI say they have added more people to the group, especially cloud or server engineers, developers, security engineers, project managers, solution architects and machine learning engineers. Established teams are more likely to have added hardware, network and DevOps engineers.

Developers on YBIYRI teams are ready to take on greater responsibilities, according to the survey, with over 65% saying their team should be responsible for more elements of the software product life cycle than they currently are.

The survey also found a connection between autonomy and the YBIYRI approach. The survey found that teams that have been using the approach for some time have greater autonomy. Developers with six to 10 years of experience who work at large companies that use a YBIYRI approach have the highest levels of autonomy.

SEE: Software companies are slowly closing the gender pay gap on DevOps teams

The report is based on a survey of 2,182 software developers in Australia, India, Germany and the U.S., and was conducted in August 2021. Quotas were used to ensure a mix of respondents from various organization sizes, levels of seniority, industries and degrees of role tenure as well as a representative gender mix.

The survey found that 87% of developers who work with high levels of autonomy are happy with their current mix of tasks and responsibilities. This component of work seems to have a strong influence on overall job satisfaction and to balance out the demands of complex work that requires greater context switching, according to the survey.

"You build it, you run it" trend in software development
Atlassian’s 2021 survey found that teams that use a YBIYRI approach to software development see more overall growth than those that don’t.

Finally, developers with high levels of autonomy are more likely to spend more time coding and developing new skills than workers with less autonomy. Among developers with high autonomy, 33% worked on an average of four to six projects while only 18% of people with weak autonomy did so.

How to get the right mix of tools

The report also looks at how software developers use tools. One chapter considers the role of coding from scratch versus increased use of tools and platforms and another explains the need for flexibility when adopting new tools. In the coding vs. tools section, a contradictory trend emerged. Sixty-five percent of respondents said writing code is the most valuable skill but 58% said writing code from scratch will not be a critical skill in the future. The survey also asked whether tools will replace code and respondents were divided on the question:

  • 32%: Coding is the most valuable skill and is unlikely to be replaced by tools
  • 33%: Undecided
  • 22%: Tools will ultimately make coding obsolete.
  • 13%: Coding is valuable but it will eventually be replaced by tools

The survey looked at preferences and predictions for each group and found these tendencies:

The group that sees code as more important than tools has these attitudes:

  • High value of coding and code review
  • Low likelihood of tools replacing code
  • Unlikely to be assembling code written by others

The group that sees tools as tools as more important has these attributes:

  • High value of coding and code review
  • Low likelihood of tools replacing code
  • Unlikely to be assembling code written by others

The group that thinks tools are equally important as coding has these beliefs:

  • High value of coding
  • High likelihood of tools replacing code
  • Unlikely to be assembling code written by others
  • Moderate value of code review

The report authors suggest that managers and leaders of development teams should think carefully about toolchains, what tools to add and when to add them. The survey found that increased access to flexible tools makes developers happier with their work while inflexible, difficult to integrate tools had the opposite effect.

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