Developer productivity is mission-critical in today's tech-first world—the pace of delivering high-quality applications and features can make or break a company.
However, according to Stripe's developer survey, developers spend an average of 17.3 hours per week on maintenance tasks. Where speed is critical, this is a hindrance to developer productivity. And tech-first businesses need a better productivity solution.
Enter Internal Developer Platforms (IDPs). IDPs provide developers with automated environments, tools, and workflows that help them ship code faster.
This article will dive deep into the developer productivity challenges, explain how IDPs improve productivity through workflow optimization and automation, and why IDPs matter for modern tech-first organizations. Let's get started.
The Current State of Developer Productivity
The Stripe developer survey identified that developers spend over 40% of their time on repetitive tasks like setting up infrastructure, deploying code, and switching between contexts. The rest is split between code maintenance, debugging, and meetings. That leaves less time for writing and deploying new code to production.
This creates big problems for engineering teams. Simple projects drag on for weeks, and even onboarding new engineers could be faster because developers get pulled into many non-coding tasks. Shipping new features and fixes takes longer than it should.
The tech talent shortage makes things even harder, and 43% of tech decision-makers reported a skill gap within their organization. To fill the void, developers are stretched thin and asked to work on tasks outside their core expertise. This leads to burnout, low morale, and people leaving jobs—further adding to the problem.
With the wide array of changes in the tech space, the old approaches aren't cutting it anymore. Engineering teams need solutions that remove roadblocks and let developers focus on writing code.
That’s why over 51% of companies have moved to an IDP, and 93% of those businesses consider it a step forward in the workflows. But what exactly is an IDP, and why does it matter?
What is an Internal Developer Platform (IDP)?
An internal developer platform is a software delivery architecture that provides developers with the infrastructure, tools, and workflows required to build, deploy, and monitor applications efficiently and at scale.
An IDP aims to combine all the systems developers use into a single, unified experience. This includes things like:
- Code editors to write code
- Code versioning systems (like GitHub)
- Systems to build and test code automatically
- Environments to deploy code after testing
- Monitoring tools to check for issues
This is in stark contrast to the disjointed tools used traditionally.
With an IDP, developers can set up and provision infrastructure like databases and servers based on pre-configured templates—no time spent waiting for Ops to provision resources for the team.
IDPs aim to consolidate choices for organizations like containers under the hood—all completely managed behind the scenes by the platform.
And the most critical factor—collaboration. IDPs make it easy for developers to work closely with other teams involved in the software delivery process. Built-in collaboration features help everyone stay on the same page. Let’s dive a little further into the benefits of an IDP.
Traditional Environments vs. Internal Developer Platforms
Traditional developer environments rely on disjointed tools and manual processes, leading to fragmented workflows. Developers spend inordinate time configuring infrastructure, fixing dependencies, context switching between systems and other forms of waste.
In contrast, IDPs provide an integrated platform that combines all systems involved in the software lifecycle. Resources are provisioned on-demand, deployments are automated, and collaboration is built-in. This consolidated experience within IDPs leads to significant productivity improvements.
Benefits of Using an IDP
Here are some significant ways IDPs improve developer productivity:
- Increased velocity - IDPs accelerate release cycles by providing standardized build and deployment pipeline setups with greater reusability. These efficiencies add up to a significant increase in release velocity.
- Reduced overhead - IDPs automate infrastructure provisioning, tool configuration, and other mundane tasks. A Stripe survey found developers waste 50% of their time on tasks instead of coding, which IDPs directly reduce.
- Improved system reliability - IDPs standardize and templatize infrastructure setups, minimizing errors from ad-hoc configurations. Environments are consistent and more stable.
- Enhanced collaboration - IDPs connect developers, ops engineers, QA, security, and other teams with built-in tools for communication and visibility, thus streamlining collaboration.
- Higher developer satisfaction - IDPs provide a consumer-grade, self-service developer experience that helps improve developer satisfaction as they can focus more on what they love most—code.
- Faster innovation - IDPs enable developers to experiment more and build new capabilities faster by eliminating productivity bottlenecks. The velocity translates to tangible business outcomes.
What Are Some Features to Look for in an IDP?
You’ll have two choices when you’re in the market for an IDP—build or buy. Both approaches have pros and cons. While building gives you customizability and control, you are stuck with a product that requires constant maintenance and dedicated resources for upkeep.
On the other hand, buying one can be confusing because of the number of features you must choose from. Also, you don’t want to be stuck with a rigid IDP that does not adjust to your existing workflows. Let’s look at the features you should consider when picking an IDP.
Unified Developer Experience
An IDP should provide a unified UI for developers to access all the tools, systems, and information they need. Seamless navigation between code, builds, deployments, and monitoring should exist without switching contexts. Unified identity and access management across all integrated tools are crucial for a streamlined workflow.
Flexible Infrastructure Provisioning
You also need the IDP to integrate with major cloud providers to spin up resources dynamically. For instance, Facets adapts to infrastructure automation, enabling developers to provision resources how and when they want, without imposing opinions.
You also need to introduce collaboration between teams to improve efficiency. Developers should easily discuss work and share context with other teams through built-in communication capabilities. This includes activity streams, notifications, chat integrations, comments on work items, and wikis attached to pipelines.
The IDP should provide integration with observability tools to provide full-stack visibility to the developers for monitoring system health and troubleshooting issues. Logging, tracing, and error tracking should seamlessly integrate into the deployment pipelines, while visual metrics dashboards and log aggregation provide valuable visibility within the same unified interface.
Flexible Access Controls
You need the IDP to manage access when working with multiple teams and roles. This is important for platform governance. The IDP should allow your Ops team to add and modify security policies and give access rights to a specific set of users.
Extensible,Customizable and inner-sourced
Extensibility is of utmost importance. Most IDPs on the market lock you into a specific set of features that have been built. However, when an IDP offers open APIs, plugins, and automation frameworks, you can easily extend and modify the IDP to fit your workflows. IDPs should ensure that they promote valuable inner-sourced contributions that can be easily reused across the entire organization.
Facets is one example of such an extensible IDP. It offers a beautiful UI pleasing to the eye and is extensible, with nuanced control over all the features without adding complexity to the platform.
Why do IDPs Matter?
According to internaldeveloperplatform.org, teams using IDPs benefit from greater velocity, reduced overhead, quicker innovation cycles, and higher job satisfaction—developers can focus on high-value creative work instead of rote tasks.
The idea behind an IDP is simple—bring order to the fragmented workflows and improve developer productivity.
Developers can seamlessly move between coding, testing, and deploying from a single screen instead of constant context switching.
Done right, IDPs have the potential to move the needle where traditional infrastructure solutions fall short. They represent an exciting evolution that could improve development—and the added efficiency will only become more critical for businesses over time.
Take the Next Step Toward Developer Productivity
Improving developer productivity has a multiplier effect on engineering velocity, release frequency, and overall business growth. IDPs address the core issues slowing down developers, like manual configurations, switching contexts, misconfigurations, etc.
They boost developer productivity by providing integrated tools, automated environments, and streamlined collaboration under the same roof acting as a single source of truth for the organization. So if you’re looking to scale innovation faster, consider leveraging infrastructure-as-code, CI/CD pipelines, and self-service environments provided by modern IDPs.
But if you’re worried about IDPs being difficult to implement or not extensible enough, try Facets. It’s built by tech industry veterans who deeply understand the pain points of developers. Every feature addresses a pressing pain of developers working in collaborative, fast-paced environments. And it provides a fully extensible platform that your developers can work with and modify according to your workflows.
IDPs are transforming how modern digital teams build software and organizations are seeing an average of 20% increase in developer productivity. Internal platforms are the next step toward developer productivity—the question is, are you ready to make the switch?
How can organizations measure improvements in developer productivity from IDPs?
Metrics like lead time, deployment frequency, time to restore service, and mean time to resolution help quantify productivity gains with IDPs. Surveys measuring developer experience and analyzing help tickets also provide insights.
What are some challenges in implementing an internal developer platform (IDP)?
- Getting stakeholder buy-in.
- Choosing the proper integration tools.
- Migrating legacy systems.
- Measuring ROI.
Having an incremental roadmap and garnering developer feedback is critical.
Do developers need training to use an IDP effectively?
IDPs focus on providing intuitive self-service interfaces. However, training developers on onboarding, accessing environments, using CI/CD pipelines, etc., helps extract maximum value.
How long does it take to implement an IDP?
Implementing an MVP with core capabilities typically takes 4-6 weeks. However, IDPs like Facets can help you achieve full implementation within the same or less time.
Are IDPs suitable for companies just starting their dev teams?
If you are a pre-product market fit, the answer would be no. At that stage, you should focus on product fit rather than engineering excellence. However, post-PMG, IDPs provide an excellent foundation for building engineering culture and practices. The automated environments and guardrails help accelerate new teams.