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Developers' Perception and Retrospection of Productivity

English title Developers' Perception and Retrospection of Productivity
Applicant Fritz Thomas
Number 156997
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für Informatik Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Information Technology
Start/End 01.10.2015 - 31.05.2019
Approved amount 226'230.00
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Keywords (6)

goal-setting; developer; productivity; social sharing; measurement; retrospection

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Der Bedarf Software zu entwickeln steigt ständig--"software is eating the world" wie Andreessen es gut beschrieben hat. Gleichzeitig scheint es nie genug Software Entwickler zu geben um diesen Bedarf zu decken, trotz des immensen Wachstums an Fachkräften mit geschätzten elf Millionen professionellen Software Entwicklern in 2014. Eine Möglichkeit diesen Engpass zu überwinden ist es die Produktivität jedes einzelnen Software Entwicklers zu steigern. Dabei stellt sich die Frage was es für einen einzelnen Entwickler bedeutet produktiv oder produktiver zu sein.
Lay summary

Das Ziel dieses Projektes ist es zu verstehen wie Software Entwickler ihre eigene Produktivität wahrnehmen und ihnen zu helfen ihre Produktivität zu steigern. Dabei wollen wir aussagekräftige Produktivitäts-Metriken ermitteln und einen Ansatz entwickeln der Entwicklern eine retrospektive Analyse ihrer Arbeit ermöglicht. Ähnlich zur Idee von Aktivitäts-Trackern wie dem fitbit oder dem Nike+ Fuelband die Leuten helfen aktiver zu sein, wollen wir Software Entwicklern helfen ihre Produktivität besser zu verstehen und zu steigern.

Dieses Projekt besteht aus vier Teilen: (1) einer Reihe von Studien mit professionellen Software Entwicklern zur Wahrnehmung und Messung ihrer Produktivität, (2) der Entwicklung eines Ansatzes zur retrospektiven Analyse für Entwickler, (3) der Entwicklung eines Ansatzes zum expliziten Setzens von Produktivitätszielen (goal-setting) und zum Austausch produktivitätsbezogener Daten (sharing), und (4) der Evaluation dieser Ansätze in empirischen Studien.

 Ein besseres Verständnis von Produktivität und ein Ansatz zur Retrospektion für individuelle Software Entwickler hat das Potenzial Entwickler in ihrer Arbeit zu motivieren und ihre Produktivität zu steigern.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 15.07.2015

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Enabling Good Work Habits in Software Developers through Reflective Goal-Setting
Meyer André N., Murphy Gail C., Zimmermann Thomas, Fritz Thomas (2021), Enabling Good Work Habits in Software Developers through Reflective Goal-Setting, in IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, 47(9), 1872-1885.
Supporting Software Developers' Focused Work on Window-Based Desktops
Pilzer Jan, Rosenast Raphael, Meyer André N., Huang Elaine M., Fritz Thomas (2020), Supporting Software Developers' Focused Work on Window-Based Desktops, in CHI '20: CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Honolulu HI USAACM, New York, NY, USA.
Detecting Developers' Task Switches and Types
Meyer André N., Züger Manuela, Satterfield Chris, Kevic Katja, Murphy Gail C., Zimmermann Thomas, Fritz Thomas (2020), Detecting Developers' Task Switches and Types, in IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, 1.
Developers' Diverging Perceptions of Productivity
Meyer André N, Murphy Gail C, Fritz Thomas, Zimmermann Thomas (2019), Developers' Diverging Perceptions of Productivity, Springer, Berkeley, 137-146.
Fitbit for Developers: Self-Monitoring at Work
Meyer André N, Fritz Thomas, Zimmermann Thomas (2019), Fitbit for Developers: Self-Monitoring at Work, Springer, Berkeley, 261-270.
Reducing Interruptions at Work with FlowLight
Züger Manuela, Meyer André N, Fritz Thomas, Shepherd David (2019), Reducing Interruptions at Work with FlowLight, Springer, Berkeley, 271-279.
Today was a Good Day: The Daily Life of Software Developers
Meyer Andre, Barr Earl T., Bird Christian, Zimmermann Thomas (2019), Today was a Good Day: The Daily Life of Software Developers, in IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, 1-1.
Fostering software developers' productivity at work through self-monitoring and goal-setting
Meyer André N (2018), Fostering software developers' productivity at work through self-monitoring and goal-setting, in Doctoral Symposium, Proc. of the 2018 IEEE/ACM 40th International Conference on Software Engineering, 480-483, ACM, New York480-483.
Sensing Interruptibility in the Office: A Field Study on the Use of Biometric and Computer Interaction Sensors
Züger Manuela, Müller Sebastian C., Meyer André N., Fritz Thomas (2018), Sensing Interruptibility in the Office: A Field Study on the Use of Biometric and Computer Interaction Sensors, in Proc. of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2018 (CHI'18), ACM, New York.
Characterizing Software Developers by Perceptions of Productivity
Meyer André N, Zimmermann Thomas, Fritz Thomas (2017), Characterizing Software Developers by Perceptions of Productivity, in Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement (ESEM), 2017 International Symposium, IEEE, New Jersey.
Design Recommendations for Self-Monitoring in the Workplace: Studies in Software Development
Meyer Andre N., Murphy Gail C., Zimmermann Thomas, Fritz Thomas (2017), Design Recommendations for Self-Monitoring in the Workplace: Studies in Software Development, in Proc. ACM on Hum.-Comput. Interact., 1(CSCW), ACM, New York 1(CSCW).
Reducing Interruptions at Work: A Large-Scale Field Study of FlowLight
Züger Manuela, Corley Christopher, Meyer André N., Li Boyang, Fritz Thomas, Shepherd David, Augustine Vinay, Francis Patrick, Kraft Nicholas, Snipes Will (2017), Reducing Interruptions at Work: A Large-Scale Field Study of FlowLight, in Proc. of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2017 (CHI'17), 61-72, ACM, New York61-72.
The Work Life of Developers: Activities, Switches and Perceived Productivity
Meyer André N., Barton Laura E, Murphy Gail C, Zimmermann Thomas, Fritz Thomas (2017), The Work Life of Developers: Activities, Switches and Perceived Productivity, in IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, 1-15, IEEE, New Jersey1-15.
Measuring Individual Productivity
Fritz Thomas (2016), Measuring Individual Productivity, Morgan Kaufmann, Boston, 67-72.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Microsoft Research Redmond United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Logitech Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
ABB Schweiz Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
ABB Canada (North America)
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
University of British Columbia / Tasktop Canada (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Software Engineering, Institut fuer Informatik, Universitaet Zuerich Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
IBM Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
ABB Research United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Embrava Australia (Oceania)
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Doctoral Symposium of the IEEE/ACM 40th International Conference on Software Engineering Talk given at a conference Fostering Software Developers’ Productivity at Work through Self-Monitoring and Goal-Setting 27.05.2018 Gothenburg, Sweden Meyer Andre;
IEEE/ACM International Conference on Program Comprehension 2018 Talk given at a conference Sensing and Supporting Software Developers’ Focus 27.05.2018 Gothenburg, Sweden Fritz Thomas;
SPLASH-i at ACM SIGPLAN conference on Systems, Programming, Languages and Applications: Software for Humanity (SPLASH) Talk given at a conference Reducing Interruptions at Work with the FlowLight 26.10.2017 Vancouver, Canada Fritz Thomas;
11th joint meeting of the European Software Engineering Conference and the ACM SIGSOFT Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering Talk given at a conference The Work Life of Developers: Activities, Switches & Perceived Productivity 06.09.2017 Paderborn, Germany Meyer Andre;
ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2017 Talk given at a conference Reducing Interruptions at Work: A Large-Scale Field Study of FlowLight 24.04.2017 Denver, United States of America Meyer Andre;
20th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing Talk given at a conference Design recommendations for self-monitoring in the workplace: Studies in software development 25.02.2017 Portland, United States of America Meyer Andre;


Self-organised

Title Date Place

Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Invited Talk at University of Victoria Talk 12.09.2018 Victoria, Canada Meyer Andre;
Invited Talk at Microsoft Vancouver and ABB Richmond/Vancouver, Talk 30.04.2018 Vancouver, Canada Fritz Thomas;
Invited Talk at ABB Talk 15.04.2018 Baden, Switzerland Fritz Thomas;
Invited Talk and Workshop with Logitech Talk 14.12.2017 Lausanne, Switzerland Fritz Thomas;
IBM Developer Unconference Talk 07.08.2017 Zürich, Switzerland Meyer Andre;
Invited Talk on "Boosting developer productivity" Talk 04.11.2016 Redmond, United States of America Fritz Thomas;
Invited talk at Adesso Quarterly Meeting Talk 22.11.2015 Bern, Switzerland Fritz Thomas;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Lunch Talk at Tasktop 12.07.2018 Vancouver, Canada

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: radio, television Stoppsignal i kontorslandskapet Sverige Radio (Swedish Radio) International 2018
Media relations: radio, television A new desk light changes colours to let colleagues know when an employee shouldn’t be interrupted, CKNW International 2017
Media relations: print media, online media At work, lights that ward off interruptions The Wall Street Journal International 2017
Media relations: print media, online media Desk traffic lights show when you’re too busy for interruptions Honestly, I’m working New Scientist International 2017
Media relations: radio, television Do not disturb, my red light is on Radio Canada International 2017
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) FlowLight: How a Traffic Light Reduces Interruptions at Work, Eigener Blog mit weiteren Referenzen zu Medien des FlowLight German-speaking Switzerland 2017
Media relations: print media, online media Go ahead, interrupt my day The New Yorker International 2017
Media relations: print media, online media Honestly, I’m working, The Times International 2017
Media relations: radio, television Interview in The Newsroom BBC World Service International 2017
Media relations: radio, television Red light on desk means I'm on task: Vancouver invention stops work interruptions MetroNews Vancouver International 2017
Media relations: print media, online media Rote Ampel gegen sto rende Arbeitskollegen 20 Minuten German-speaking Switzerland 2017
Media relations: radio, television So funktioniert das Ampel-System fürs Büro Radio Energy Zürich German-speaking Switzerland 2017
Media relations: print media, online media UN DISPOSITIF LUMINEUX POUR GERER LE TRAVAIL, Le Matin du Soir Western Switzerland 2017

Awards

Title Year
Suma Cum Laude für Doktorarbeit 2019
Honorable Mention Award at CHI 2018 for paper on "Interruptibility in the Office: A Field Study on the Use of Biometric and Computer Interaction Sensors" 2018
Honorable Mention Award at CHI 2017 for paper on "Reducing Interruptions at Work: A Large-Scale Field Study of FlowLight." 2017

Use-inspired outputs

Software

Name Year


Abstract

There is an ever-growing demand for software being produced--"software is eating the world" as Andreessen called it. Yet, there never seem to be enough software developers to satisfy the demand, despite the immense growth in the number of professional software developers over the years, with an estimate of eleven million professional developers in 2014. One way to address this excess demand is to increase the productivity of each individual software developer, raising the question of what it really means for an individual developer to be productive or more productive.A substantial amount of research has looked into developers' productivity, introducing specific definitions for measuring productivity that are generally based on a ratio of output to input, such as the number of lines of code to the coding effort in man-months or function points per developer's work hour. A lot of productivity research thereby focuses on the organizational or company level, such as the effect of workplace characteristics or hiring the right people on productivity. Fewer approaches have focused on productivity on the individual level. The most notable one is the Personal Software Process (PSP), which provides a framework for measuring and analyzing individual developers' work to improve productivity. Surprisingly, there has been no work that we have been able to find that examines when individual developers perceive themselves to be productive or unproductive. A better understanding of developers' perceptions of productivity can help to inform how productivity is defined, measured, assessed and how to best support developers in improving their productivity while also helping to avoid measurement dysfunction.The broader vision of our research is to understand and improve productivity bottom-up, starting on the developer level to determine meaningful measures and improve productivity, rather than defining productivity top-down from the organizational level. For the proposed project, the goal is to help software developers improve their productivity by investigating how they perceive their own productivity and by developing an approach that supports developers in a retrospective analysis of their productivity. In particular, this project consists of the following tasks:T1 - Studying Developer's Perception of Productivity.We plan to conduct a set of studies with professional developers to investigate how developers perceive and asses their own productivity, which activities they consider productive or unproductive and practices they use for improving their own productivity. We will combine survey based studies with individual observations and interviews of professional developers to elicit general themes and investigate these in more detail. An analysis of the data will provide valuable insights and help to inform how productivity is defined, measured, assessed and supported by tools and best practices.T2 - Retrospective Analysis for Developers.Self-monitoring and reflection can provide valuable insights into one's own behavior and can be used to change one's behavior. Based on the findings from T1, we plan to devise a developer-centric model to capture information relevant to a developer's productivity and determine ways to abstract and aggregate the information to provide a meaningful retrospection to the developer. We will develop a method to collect and visualize the information and assess how the provision of such information enables retrospection and hopefully drives up productivity.T3 - Goal-Setting and Social Sharing.Goal-setting and social sharing are techniques that have been shown to motivate behavior change in combination with self-monitoring. We plan to investigate how we can support developers in specifying and monitoring their goals in combination with the retrospection (from T2) to further motivate them for improving their productivity. We also plan to explore which data and with whom developers might be interested in sharing, provide support for it and examine its effect on their productivity.T4 - Evaluation of Retrospective Analysis, Goal-Setting and Sharing.Throughout the development of the approach for retrospection (T2 and T3), we will continuously evaluate the developed prototypes and integrate user feedback. For a more thorough evaluation, we will conduct a longitudinal field study with professional developers using our prototype over several weeks, collecting usage data before and while using the approach and interviewing participants on their experience. An analysis of the collected data will allow us to assess the value and effectiveness of our approach and provide opportunities for future improvements.We will carry out the empirical studies in close connection with professional development teams at international sites, such as Microsoft in the USA, Tasktop in Canada, and IBM in Switzerland. In particular, we will collaborate with Thomas Zimmermann from Microsoft Research, Gail Murphy from UBC and Tasktop, and Florian Georg from IBM.
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