The right tools for the job may be the ticket to recruiting top developer candidates
Would you be surprised if we told you that more than half of all employees are unhappy at work because of the software tools they’re using? According to G2’s State of Software Happiness report, published in 2019, not only is that statistic true, but their survey of over 1600 people also concluded that nearly a quarter of employees have actually considered leaving their jobs as a result of their company’s software stack.
Now that the pandemic has made remote work the norm, the importance of having a well-stacked tech stack is even more crucial to the employee experience. Organizations and team leaders need to take a good long look at the tools they’re comfortable using and assess whether those tools can still deliver in today’s work climate.
It may seem like the switching costs of changing tools isn’t worth the effort or potential disruption to your team’s day-to-day work. But consider what long-term gains you may be sacrificing for short-term comfort, such as potentially alienating new recruits with a subpar tech stack or risking slowing down project delivery rates because your tools are no longer keeping pace with production.
Here we’ll shed some light on how upleveling your tech stack can uplevel your talent pool.
Your tech stack and talent search are deeply related
When it comes to hiring software developers, you’ve got to make sure that your job posting is competitive. Treat it more like you’re advertising the role, team, and your organization rather than posting a laundry list of qualifications that you’re seeking in a potential candidate. Experienced developers want to work using the best tools for the job. Make sure to sell the sizzle. See a job listing example here.
Naturally any software developer job description will include a list of programming languages that the candidate will be required to know and use. It’s also important that you provide information about different frameworks and methodologies that the team uses to get project work done (like agile) and, more often than not, these days it’s helpful to include some of the tools in your tech stack that developer hopefuls can look forward to working with as well. Being transparent with this information shows confidence in your approach and that should help bolster a candidate’s confidence, too.
There’s a SaaS solution for just about every task and job. For developers and software engineering teams, their SaaS stacks (sometimes called “solutions stacks”) likely fall into three general categories:
- Technical and specialist software: GitHub, Bootstrap, Jira
- Team communication & collaboration software: Slack, Zoom
- Project management software: ZenHub, Trello
Together, these SaaS tools ought to add more clarity, context and efficiency to developers’ jobs. While IT admins are spoiled for choice when it comes to software tools, it’s important to ensure that employees are satisfied with the tools they’ve been given.
Not only that, remember that the more tools you add to your stack, the more you risk fragmenting employees’ attention and creating unnecessary friction. Given that, it’s equally important that IT administrators ensure that the various tools they deploy function well individually and also play well together.
Qualities and attributes of a stacked software stack
Tech stacks are an important measure of employee satisfaction. When we think about employee satisfaction, it may be easy to assume that delight is the same as satisfaction. Of course it’s important that workplace software is easy to use, and sometimes maybe even delightfully so, but we also know that the true measure of satisfaction is actually productivity. After all, if talented devs can’t get their work done, they’ll look to take their talents elsewhere.
That begs the question: what kinds of features and functionality do software developers need to see in the products in your tech stack?
So much of the value of SaaS technology these days is in its ability to take over routine, manual tasks. In doing so, workflow automations free employees up to think more creatively and be able to focus on more challenging problems and solutions.
Take bank ATMs (Automated Teller Machines), as an example. Did automating routine cash withdrawals and deposits eradicate the need for human tellers? Not at all. Without having to take care of such basic transactions, bank tellers were able to leverage their human ingenuity and skills towards selling other more complex and more lucrative financial products like loans and credit lines.
All to say: Good and modern software solutions don’t skimp on automations that save teams valuable time. Smart workflow automations can also be a sign that the people building the product have a detailed understanding of their users’ needs and processes.
Integrations & interoperability
You’ll notice that most popular software solutions these days make it a point to offer teams the option to customize their tools according to their distinct needs. One common way of doing this is by offering integrations with other software providers. Integrations enhance product interoperability (a.k.a. Integrations allow different products to play nicely together). Developers will likely look at your tech stack to gauge whether you’re wisely choosing tools that are part of a wider ecosystem.
APIs and customization
If it doesn’t offer an API, should you be investing in that piece of software? Most developers will tell you not to purchase software that doesn’t give you the option to get under its hood and fix it up to your liking. This should make decision-making fairly simple: No API? No, thank you.
Simply put: if tools in your SaaS tech stack don’t provide automation and customization, there’s a narrow chance that you’ll be able to attract top talent. Developers are a savvy lot and they will know to look for these attributes in the solutions that you provide your employees.
Highlight your technological assessment and procurement process
As both makers and consumers of business software, it’s important that developers are invited into an organization’s tech procurement process. Highlighting how your organization goes about assessing, implementing, and deploying new technologies into the workplace is a major key to attracting top tech talent.
Developers will want to know that they have a voice when it comes to the tools they use for work. Like with any review or assessment, when it comes to measuring how effective a piece of software is to your process, developers will want to see that you make decisions based on a mix of quantitative and qualitative data.
Ideally, quantitative data is something that you can generate from within the tools you’re using. This data can look like a weekly or monthly report on product usage and availability (or uptime). It goes without saying that you ought to be wary of any tools that don’t offer administrators the option to see how well or how much the product is being used.
Qualitative assessments are where team leaders have a big opportunity to create an inclusive procurement process that signals to employees how much their experience and perspectives are valued. There are several ways you can get the team’s input on the tools they’re using:
- User interviews: Set up time with each individual on the team for an in-person (or virtual) interview to ask detailed questions about their satisfaction and challenges with their software stack.
- Polls & surveys: Regularly send out anonymous polls and surveys to check in with the team on how productive and supported they feel by their current set of tools.
- Soliciting recommendations for alternatives: Developers are often pioneering early adopters. Tap into their knowledge by asking the team for suggestions on new technologies that they’ve heard of and may want to try out.
If you don’t currently have a system for inviting developers into your tech procurement process, you’re going to want to establish one, fast. It’s a huge competitive edge when it comes to attracting and retaining engineering talent. Another thing leaders can and should do is invite developers to innovate.
You know as well as we do that developers are happiest when making things. Tap into this energy and momentum by scheduling annual or semi-annual hackathons that encourage developers to build on internal tools. You’ll get more out of your current software stack and developers will feel more invested in the products and processes that they’re helping to co-create.
Challenge the status quo with your tech stack
When designing or revamping your company’s tech stack, it’s important to rethink the status quo. Well-known industry giants for project management, like Jira, may seem like the default or norm, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best fit for your team. Opting for a niche or up-and-coming platform could provide a tailored, unique experience to your team. Remember when the idea of Slack seemed innovative and totally out there? We believe teams that adopt platforms like this during their early stages are at an advantage for attracting forward-thinking candidates.
We pity the fool who tries to fool developers into using sub-par tech tools. In fact, a recent report on digital workers conducted by Adobe’s Workfront confirms that 32% of survey respondents said they’d quit a job because workplace tech made their jobs harder. This number sat at 22% pre-COVID-19. That settles it: Without a strong foundational tech stack, organizations can kiss top talent goodbye.
You have a wide range of business software to choose from but, like we said, features like automation, integrations and customization are the key elements to a streamlined tech stack. Does that mean that you need to toss out any tools that don’t allow you to do these three things? Not at all. Sometimes the key to optimizing your existing stack is in layering in a tool that has the power and function to turbo-charge the tools that you’re already using.
We built ZenHub exactly like this. Layered right into GitHub, ZenHub provides all the power that GitHub is missing to manage your agile projects. Features like automated sprint planning, reporting, workflow automation and planning poker, combined with ZenHub’s ease of use and simplicity to start up makes it a clear first choice for dev-focused teams looking to move away from Jira and towards a more user-centric experience. And stay in GitHub to boot!
Ready to rethink your company’s tech stack and project management tool? Existing GitHub users can start a 14-day free trial in ZenHub in just a few clicks with no credit card required!