Inside the Minds of Software Developers
IDG research explores the various roles and responsibilities fueling software development today
November 21, 2019

The roles involved in driving business forward through software development go beyond the traditional developer title and responsibilities appear to be growing, according to the 2019 Role of the Developer Survey from IDG Communications.

The 2019 research provides insight into the tasks developers are spending the majority of their time on, the skills they'd like to further develop, and the challenges hindering their productivity. While 82% of respondents say they frequently/sometimes spend their time modifying/maintaining software applications, 41% say they would like to focus more time developing/building software applications.

Getting to Know the Development Focused ITDM

Software development falls into three main buckets and survey respondents represent all of them:

■ 68% are involved in full stack development — meaning they can tackle projects such as building user-facing websites or work with clients during the planning phase of projects

■ 21% are involved in back end development only — these are the people who put together the parts of an application or website that users don't interact with directly

■ 11% are involved in front end development and work on the visible parts of an application or website that users see and interact with.

While all survey respondents were involved in some aspect of testing, developing, deploying/monitoring/managing or modifying/maintaining software applications, they hold various titles including software engineer, software architect, enterprise developer, software developer, and programmer, just to name a few.

When asked about the most important skills they need to be successful in their current role, 62% said problem solving/troubleshooting skills. Interestingly, only 10% of respondents claim to want to focus more of their time on troubleshooting operations issues over the next 12 months. Ideally, they would like to take on a more strategic role and focus their time building and designing new tools, as well as researching new tools and solutions.

Due to technology modernizations, 40% of developers say they have a need for new programming/language skills and 39% say there is an increased need for new development tools and solutions.

Helping to Safeguard and Drive the Business

Software developers are very much involved in steering technology investments — more than half (56%) say they are involved during the research stage and 29% say they are consulted once a trial is in place and vendors are being evaluated. Only 11% of respondents said they are never involved in the tech purchase process. It's also important to note that 81% are somewhat/very satisfied with their level of involvement during the technology purchase process.

Additionally, 73% say that their working relationship with business management is highly/somewhat collaborative which gives them a voice when new technologies are being evaluated. This changes slightly by job title and increases to 78% for architects, 74% for engineers, and decreases to 68% for developers.

The research also found that these individuals have a collaborative relationship with the security team. Nearly half (49%) of developers say that security is integrated into the development process in the planning stage before development begins, and 33% say security is looped in once the first iteration of the application is developed. By communicating with both line of business management and security personnel throughout the software and application development process, developers are positioning their tools and solutions for success.

"We continue to see growth in the importance of the developer role — in both creating tools and solutions to advance digital transformation efforts, but also in their involvement around technology investments," said Eric Koepele, US Chief Commercial Officer, IDG Communications, Inc. "These individuals are key players, especially when it comes to evaluating and researching vendors. Providing developers with the tailored content they need to then communicate with business leaders is a simple door opener for vendor consideration and discussion."

Faced with Challenges

With frequent tech advancements, security concerns and a shortage of time to focus on all necessary tasks, it's evident that developers experience challenges within their responsibilities. Tied for the top two challenges are doing more with less staff and keeping up with new technology advancements/skill requirements (28%). Following close behind, 27% say that the availability of experienced developers is a top challenge inhibiting their role.

When faced with a job-related challenge, developers rely largely on peer communication and easily digestible information — 39% rely on peers inside their company, followed by online communities/discussion forums (36%) and blogs (34%).

The study also looked at the current staffing levels of development teams. Close to half of developers (46%) believe their team is adequately staffed, while 17% view their team as being well-staffed, and 36% report that their team is understaffed. We can expect some staffing levels to improve within the next year as 39% anticipate their in-house development team will increase over the next 12 months and 42% report their level will remain the same.

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