How do we help our development partners be more productive?

Increasing developer productivity is an important goal. It’s also a tricky one. As a developer, you have your own ideas of what you need—or don’t need—for productivity to increase. Here at Intuit®, we think the best way to find out what you need is to ask, so we did just that.

In our latest Twitter poll, we asked developers, “What information can help you be more productive as a development partner?” The answers from more than 1,300 respondents were case studies (32.3%), new product features (27.2%), industry updates (20.6%), and platform/API news (19.9%).

Before we look at the top two answers in relation to increasing developer productivity, let’s first take a look at the ways Intuit is already achieving it.

Increasing developer productivity by improving current resources and eliminating challenges

Many of the resources we have in place are there to increase productivity in the development process. But, as with all things, there is always room for improvement.

In late 2019, we heard from developers that you were having issues with webhooks, calling it unreliable and slow. In response, we made some changes in Sandbox (made the webhooks firing near real time, increasing debug productivity and lowering frustration) and Production (allowed developers to configure how long Intuit should aggregate events for their application and eliminated the limited time options). The challenges with the resources were taken care of and ultimately improved developer productivity.

Last year, we added the “Teams” feature in the Developer portal. This tool is an added resource that eliminates productivity challenges and security issues. Developers can allocate specific work to team members based on roles and access rights, set permissions for accessing specific sections, and stop sharing passwords between team members. Last year we also provided a sandbox experience for QuickBooks® Online Advanced so developers know what to expect from the product and are able to test their integration with the product.

This year, two Intuit software engineers, Alexander Matyushentsev and Jesse Suen, created Argo CD, a solution that helps deploy code faster when moving applications to Kubernetes. Argo CD has decreased deployment and rollback times, the hours developers spent writing detailed instructions, and the hours spent in meetings overseeing the old deployment process.

These are just a few examples of how Intuit has focused on increasing developer productivity, and the Twitter poll responses are indicators of where we’ll turn our attention next.

Case studies and new product features for increasing developer productivity

In the poll, case studies edged out new product features for the top way to help increase developer productivity. What are case studies and how can they help?

Case studies describe, compare, evaluate, and potentially answer a specific problem in the context of a real-life situation. Per Scribbr, case studies may, among other things “provide new or unexpected insights into the subject” and “propose practical courses of action to resolve a problem.” Insights and resolving problems would, without a doubt, increase productivity.

New product features can do the same. For example, in the article “QuickBooks Reimburse Charge: Now available to third-party apps,” Intuit’s Ian Rajczi describes new features Intuit made available to developers that help third-party partners and apps easily integrate with billing. It was an idea we gleaned from our developers.

“At Intuit, we are constantly looking for feedback and potential opportunities to enhance our customer experience through partnerships,” Ian writes, “We love hearing about the ideas our developer partners have to enhance our products.”

Additional tips for increasing developer productivity

In a developer’s world, productivity can be stymied by any number of reasons. Here are a few common sense tips (some you may have heard before, but they bear repeating) that we found from various sources that can help improve productivity:

  • Work when alert and focused. Leave mundane, day-to-day tasks for later.
  • Walk away. When a snag arises, go do something completely unrelated. Your mind will have the freedom to think on the problem without pressure.
  • Listen to music.
  • Automate repetitive tasks to save time.
  • Keep things as simple as possible.
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel; use tips and tricks from other developers and resources (but be wise in who you emulate).
  • Measure productivity by the results not by the time it takes.
  • Write good documentation. This helps you and other developers.
  • Communicate regularly … and well.

There are even more, but the last tip is particularly critical. We address the importance of communication in Why do development projects stall?, explaining that the #1 way to overcome workplace productivity-hindering challenges is to communicate clearly, effectively, and specifically. Communication puts every team member on the same page, which ultimately moves projects forward, and creates value for the developers and the customers.

Albert Einstein said, “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”  As a developer, your customers are your best resource for finding out what you can (and should) do to add value to your app. Ask them what information would help them be more productive in their day-to-day use of your product. You’ll know exactly what you need to do to add customer-focused value, and, ultimately, to secure success for you and your customers.