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Data insights: How to build products that developers love

What makes the perfect circumstances for developers to create exceptional products? Here’s what we’ve learned from two of our top-performing companies.

woman at computer

Jan Strandbakke is the Head of Development at Tripletex. He loves to energise teams, make things happen, and deliver great software with the best engineers. At Visma, he’s a trailblazer who works efficiently to create great user experiences and customer value. He also advises a number of Visma companies as a member of their Board of Directors. 

Lars Nikolajsen is the CTO at Dinero. Having been with Dinero since the beginning, he’s spent years maturing the software development processes and helping the company grow from a small startup to a large, innovative, high-performing company. 

Here’s what they had to share from their years of experience working with developers and development teams.

The following insights were originally published in our eBook, Building products that users and developers love.

High strategic alignment in development teams 

Our data shows teams with high strategic alignment work with high-growth products. There are several ways to achieve this – and Tripletex and Dinero have found two of them. 

Jan: “At Tripletex, every team has their own vision and mission. They need to understand what world problem they’re setting out to solve. Some teams use OKRs to align on this with great success, while others rely solely on having great leaders that talk about the greater good and the way forward for the product.”

Lars: “At Dinero, we empower development teams to make decisions on behalf of the business. They have to familiarise themselves with the overall strategy of the company. It’s also valuable for developers to be close to end users to understand the problems they’re facing and how to solve them.”

Culture eats process for breakfast 

Cultivating a culture that promotes teamwork, clarity, and impact is so important. For development teams, that means focusing on the big picture, even in everyday tasks.

Jan: “Culture is the x-factor of any company, and we invest a lot in building our unique culture. We use our values – joy, trust, and drive – daily, which fuels our culture and helps us do meaningful teamwork. Developers must understand what they need to accomplish and how they’ll work to make that happen. Our values, main principles, workflows, and roles are written down to create user value. Our Playbook is the glue binding us together – keeping us autonomous, agile, and fast in software development. Developers love clarity!”

Lars: “Stay focused on solving real problems. Make sure to talk about how the product you’re developing is affecting users. If the service goes down, there should be a big red number on the info screen telling you how many users are affected by the system being unavailable. This will make developers feel responsible for solving a task that is important to the ones using the product – and themselves. This develops a positive, impact-oriented culture.”

“The key to culture is to lead by example.”

Lars Nikolajsen

Remaining fast and focused is key

Success in software development is ultimately linked to team responsibility, good test coverage, and a culture of risk-taking. The key is great speed and great focus.

Great speed

Jan: “It’s important to take risks and move fast. Tripletex releases up to 30 times a day. I think the culture behind this number and mindset are more important than the number itself. To be able to release this often, you need good test coverage – where good is decided by the team that’s responsible. Success is ultimately connected to mindset and culture in a company.”

Lars: “Slow processes and tools are the killer for any developer and can create demotivated teams that move slowly and show low performance. Invest in solid, automated testing that eliminates the need to do it manually. This will lead to faster deployment cycles, which will lead to a change in the mindset of the business. If developers feel that they can quickly deploy new changes, they’ll be more open to smaller product changes instead of requiring long-running roadmaps and planning.”

Great focus

Jan: “Our teams are intensely focused on our customers and interact with them actively to get feedback and test new hypotheses. We also ensure that developers can completely own their domain, which helps them generate deep domain knowledge and leads to fantastic and innovative solutions.” 

Lars: “Focus on delivering the smallest amount of change continuously rather than estimating the workload of tasks. If you work on what really matters, then you shouldn’t need to estimate workload in the first place. Shield the team from incoming tasks that pull them away from the important things. Remove as many meetings as possible, and keep any meetings short and precise.”

“Remember that you have excellent people on your team – give them space. Let them shine and have success, and give them the trust to make decisions. This is how you ensure good speed in getting things done and out to customers.” 

Jan Strandbakke

Handling technical debt = better innovation 

What’s the best way to foster continuous innovation and development? Addressing technical debt regularly so developers are more confident to try new things. 

Jan: “At Tripletex, we address technical debt on a daily basis. This is a foundation for continuous innovation and continuous high-speed software development. To be great and loved by developers, we need modern technology. Tripletex is Java-based, and we use modern technologies like React, Docker, and AWS. We’ve developed an easy-to-use Rest API to create a modern ecosystem of software and applications. Modern stack is what the best developers want to work with – and it also makes products with excellent user interfaces that customers enjoy.”

Lars: “Have a clear strategy for getting rid of the old parts of the system. For example, use the ‘strangler pattern’ to slowly but surely get rid of the old code base. Invest more time in upgrades and as little time as possible in pure maintenance. Gain trust in the change-management process by introducing test suites around the application. Higher trust will spawn lower friction in the development lifecycle, as well as a higher release frequency. This gives developers more energy and confidence to innovate and try new things.”

Measure what matters 

We can’t improve what we don’t measure. Setting up meaningful milestones and using modern testing methods is crucial to success.

Jan: “All of our teams have two-to-four screens with metrics from their domain. That data is used daily to decide the success of the team or product improvements set to production. We also put a lot of effort into looking at data using technology such as Snowplow and Redshift.” 

Lars: “Your release frequency tells you a lot about your development organisation. A high frequency reveals a system that is trusted and has low friction in the development lifecycle. And, of course, it needs to be supported by modern tech stacks and robust automated testing. Taken together, this leads to happier developers, fewer bugs, more satisfied customers, and a higher level of innovation.”

Want more insights like these from the top SaaS companies in Europe?

Download a free copy of our eBook now

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