It's not uncommon for dev teams to experience distractions, interruptions, and context shifts during their work. Because of the nature of software development, it's essential to access and sustain flow states without disruption. In our previous article, we shared a few tips on how to improve developer productivity. But you can also benefit from the many developer productivity tools on the market.
But not too fast! Not all developer productivity tools fit into a team’s existing workflow. So what works best for what roles, and how can using these tools help you show off your team in executive meetings? Let’s find out!
Table of Contents
- Productivity Tools for Engineering Leaders
- Productivity Tools for Team Leads
- Productivity Tools for Developers
- Improve Developer Productivity with the Best Developer Productivity Tools
Productivity Tools for Engineering Leaders
As an engineering leader, it’s important to keep your teams’ productivity in-check. The following tools will help you boost your engineering org’s productivity.
A CI/CD platform is an excellent way to improve your teams’ productivity. It helps you get a shorter software development life cycle, more frequent releases, and improved security. It also shortens your feedback loop and improves communication with minimal sign-offs and no manual authentications. You’ll even get more iteration, which means more innovation.
One of the developer productivity tools we recommend to successfully implement a CI/CD platform is CircleCI. It’s a CI/CD pipeline tool that can help your teams ease into CI/CD with ease from start to finish. Using a CI/CD tool like CircleCI reduces developer toil and increases focus time.
And when your developers can continuously focus on coding and pushing out changes, they’ll ultimately be happier—and more productive.
Are you prepared to defend your engineering org’s productivity at your next executive meeting? Can you confidently say, “This is where we are, this is how we need to improve, and this is our plan to get there”? Tracking metrics isn’t always enough. Instead, you need to know which metrics matter to drive productivity—because not all of them are as impactful as you might think.
One of the tools that can help you get there is LinearB, an engineering management tool focused on resource allocation, engineering efficiency, and developer experience. Out of the box, you get the 4 DORA metrics — the standard way for CTOs and VPs of Engineering to get a high-level overview of their organization’s performance.
You’ll even get reports like investment profile, project allocation, and planning accuracy. This will empower you with the necessary context to promote healthy discussion around balancing competing priorities and finite resources.
Productivity Tools for Team Leads
A good leader can set the direction for their team. So, if you can maximize your productivity, chances are, your team will, too. The 3 tools below can help you with that.
It's crucial to keep tabs on how much time your teams spend on tasks. You also have to ensure your meetings aren’t eating into devs’ productive hours. If they are, your devs will hardly ever enter “the zone”, which will negatively impact their productivity.
Want to see how Katie from Ambassador Labs plans meetings around developer flows? Check out this video from our podcast.
A smart calendar assistant like Clockwise will allow you to streamline your team's calendars and plan around your dev’s working hours. This way, you can ensure meetings don’t interrupt devs’ individual work.
Clockwise also helps managers and leaders prioritize time. For example, it blocks off dedicated "Focus Time" on your team's calendar. As a result, you’ll have more time to do actual work. The tool can even find a time that works for everyone on your team and eliminates any conflicting meetings. This means your devs will finally have the time to enter their flow state.
Clockwise even synchronizes your calendar with your Slack status to notify your team of your availability. With all these amazing capabilities, Clockwise boosts your team's coding efficiency and lets you work around your team’s time.
Working agreements are a great approach to improving collaboration and productivity within your teams. If your team can agree on what they want to accomplish together (like reviewing pull requests in less than 12 hours), they’ll be much happier and less tense.
But it’s your job to keep them all aligned—iteration after iteration. Now, imagine if you could automate all the micromanaging and meetings needed to enforce these working agreements? That’s what WorkerB does.
This developer bot connects to your customizable working agreements (we call them Team Goals). It then warns your devs via Slack or MS Teams when a PR isn’t aligned with a goal. Developers and project managers alike save time with WorkerB since it automates routine tasks.
We all know how irritating documentation can be. It’s a hassle to create, and an even bigger hassle to keep up-to-date. But Scribe is an efficient and user-friendly tool that takes away the pain of creating documentation. How so?
This development productivity tool records the screen as devs work through a development process. It then turns inputs into screenshots and detailed guides. The result? Your documentation will always be up-to-date, so your devs’ don’t have to maintain it!
But that’s not all! Scribe works wonders for new team members. It creates a smooth onboarding process, so you’ll see a massive difference in your team’s productivity—your new devs will hit the ground running.
Your team can even use the standard Scribe Chrome extension for free. But the premium Pro edition allows you to hide sensitive information in screenshots and a screen recorder for in-house recordings. Many organizations use this developer productivity tool to make user-friendly (and dev-friendly!) documentation, so give it a shot!
Productivity Tools for Developers
As a developer, you often struggle with non-coding tasks interfering with your favorite activity—coding. The developer productivity tools below will help you save time on the boring (but necessary) tasks, so you have more time and energy to actually write code.
We love automation— it makes our lives easier in and out of work. But not all programs are equipped for automation, so how do you fix that? What if you could have automation regardless of the tool you’re using?
That’s exactly what AutoHotkey does. This is a Windows-based programming language designed for automation. With this automation tool, developers can make basic hotkeys, macros, or more with just a few lines of code. They can even reassign buttons and keys to suit their preferences and create their own shortcuts for the keyboard and mouse. The tool's built-in commands are straightforward, making them accessible even to inexperienced users.
AutoHotkey offers a versatile syntax that frees developers from micromanaging and allows them to focus on the bigger picture. That said, it isn’t available for other operating systems, so be aware if your team is mostly on Mac or Linux.
7. The Silver Searcher
Code-searching software developer productivity tools are super useful because so much of the coding process is actually "reading" or "searching" for a specific line of code.
One of the best developer productivity tools is the Silver Searcher (or Ag, for short).
This tool is famous for its fast performance in code searching. It has quickly risen to the top of the list for developers looking for cross-platform code-based productivity solutions due to the ease and speed with which it allows them to search code. It also works wonders for bug tracking.
Ag is faster than similar alternatives by over 34x. To top that, Ag can exclude specific files, meaning it provides more precise matches. As a result, it can help your dev teams save time, resulting in better productivity.
8. Cold Turkey
Every development team has at least one member who consistently puts off doing their work. A large chunk of a software developer's day is typically spent conducting online research. But after finding the solution in r/AskProgramming, they might as well look at adorable cat photos on r/catsareliquid. And that’s how time is wasted.
What you need is a website blocker like Cold Turkey that can help people resist the temptation to waste time on the internet. Cold Turkey allows users to access all the websites they require to perform their work while blocking unnecessary distractions in real time. Each developer can create a list of websites and set specific times when these sites and apps are restricted.
Cold Turkey’s distraction-free internet zone will help you stay out of those mysterious internet black holes where time stands still so your productivity skyrockets. Pun definitely intended.
Stop treating all PRs the same. Recent PR research shows that devs wait an average of 4 days for a code review, and small PRs that wait for days to be reviewed result in a “LGTM” type comment 80% of the time. It’s time to improve developer productivity by integrating continuous merge (CM) tools, just like you have with CI/CD tools.
gitStream automates your reviews so you can focus human effort on what matters most. By creating custom review automations for your repo’s .cm file, you can determine which characteristics qualify a PR for an automated review, a single reviewer, or even two required reviewers. The outcome is improved merge frequency and cycle time.
Improve Developer Productivity with the Best Developer Productivity Tools
A busy development team isn’t necessarily a productive one. Developers need to stay on track with tasks that truly matter so they can reach peak productivity.
In this article, we've shared the 9 best developer productivity tools to help teams stay happy, focused, and efficient. You can also use these tools to improve code optimization, manage projects, enhance code execution efficiency, and streamline otherwise tedious activities.
The time and effort spent learning new developer productivity tools will pay off well in the long term—you’ll enter your maximum productivity era.