Developer retention – the cost of app complexity

App complexity grows over time – but developer retention is usually a few short years. Product Managers need to reduce App complexity to the core features and outsource non-core functions to other products.

In a recent post, we discussed the return on investment of using platforms like Contextual for onboarding, announcements and guidance vs hard-coding.

Whilst hard-coding might be a quick win to create some simple tips, the complexity increases rapidly when you realize the cost of:

  • analytics to confirm effectiveness
  • targeting to get the right audience and trigger at the right time
  • small (or large) changes to the text or images that result in the need for an update.

Most importantly there is the:

a) reduced speed of learning (iterating for increased adoption or engagement)

b) the distraction of hijacking your Developers away from working on product features

The Cost of Technical Debt

When a developer says “goodbye” – you need new or existing developers to cover the code “surface area” of their contribution. Developer retention is a major underestimated consideration for a Product Manager.

When a PM opts to hard-code something non-core in their application, the team is making a commitment to maintaining, enhancing that in the future. Also it’s often the case that old features break when something new changes.

This is one form of technical debt.

Here is what happens: Your genius developer has a lot of intellectual clout and can solve things quickly with their prowess. However, they are so talented that weekly they receive calls from recruiters and eventually they decide that it’s time to make a move.

Because they were fast, sometime the coding methods may have used shortcuts or intimate knowledge of the system that the incoming developer needs to learn. New developers often need 3-6months ramp to be able to understand how things are done.

Don’t code what isn’t core

When using a guidance platform like Contextual, the integration is a few lines of code and then you’ve freed you’re developers to work on key core app features.

Automating onboarding, announcements and guidance is systemised at the no-code level and therefore insulates against staff churn.

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