Is the Software Developer’s Role Changing?

As the world changes dramatically, so do the responsibilities of and expectations for software developers, who play such a pivotal role in advancing society.
November 5, 2021
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The world is changing — that’s obvious. With it, many people’s jobs, even ones firmly established for years or decades, are evolving, too. The technology industry is a field that must constantly be on the precipice of innovation, so it’s no surprise that this is one area where every professional, particularly the software developer, is facing transformation.

New responsibilities, overlapping roles with other professionals, and different priorities are some of the ways software developers are seeing their roles change. Curious what the role looks like today — and what’s different about it? Read on. 

Team Members Have Overlapping Roles

The past decade or so has seen a mass exodus from the waterfall method — at one time, the prevailing software development methodology — to agile. Agile focuses on collaboration and the prioritization of the customer. There are many advantages to this philosophy, and one of the main ones is that quality assurance is central to the development process.

In Agile, everyone is responsible for quality, not just the QA testers and specialists. It’s ingrained in the process. Software developers, too, must have a mindset that prioritizes QA, and they are tasked with making sure they are delivering a high-quality product from the very beginning of the software development lifecycle (SDLC). This means they are focused on different objectives and must employ new strategies with that in mind. 

Agile also involves delivering feedback routinely and consistently. Software developers now depend on receiving and giving this feedback regularly, working closely with other team members, including the QA specialists, who have overlapping roles with their developer counterparts.

Open Source Has an Important Place

We now live in an open-source culture, where anyone can use and contribute to numerous software projects. This is significant not just because it means that the technology and tools are more readily accessible to both developers and consumers but also because it aids the developer in their efforts. With open-source software comes a changing role for developers, one that allows them to learn, experiment, and grow.

Software developers are aided in their efforts to build higher-quality software thanks to open-source tools. They are also able to engage with other developers in the community and grow their network, which contributes to their knowledge and equips them with new skills and resources. 

Training Is More Important

Now that software developers are taking on more — and different — responsibilities, there is a greater need for intensive training to prepare them for tasks beyond simple coding. But this, too, is taking on new forms. Gone are the days when all developers must have a bachelor’s degree in computer science. While this might still be a requirement for some positions, many employers are considering alternative methods of training and preparation.

For example, coding bootcamps are becoming increasingly popular, mainly because they equip students with development skills in a fraction of the time that college degree programs do, thus boasting high employment rates post-completion. 

At the Same Time, Development Is No Longer Restricted to Developers

Specialized skills are important, of course, but there are simpler routes to development these days. The introduction of low-code and no-code platforms, which allow laypeople to build apps and other digital products with minimal or even no development skills or training, has made the development world accessible to practically anyone.

This doesn’t mean that there will be no need for skilled developers, though. It simply means that developers have more options available to them and, increasingly, will take on more complex projects, while those without development training can create more basic applications and products on their own.

Developers Are Accountable

Business leaders are used to being held accountable to stakeholders, consumers, and a public audience. But today, this responsibility extends to other key players within the organization, including the ones who build the products — the software developers. 

These professionals must become used to their roles as leaders themselves. They are the ones who must gather and research requirements, keep the stakeholders informed, and translate their efforts into understandable language. Beyond that, they must devise plans with the larger company’s goals, mission, and values in mind. In other words, software developers have accountability, too. 

Software developers are also increasingly embracing the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR), the idea that they should turn to ethical, socially conscious practices when building their products. That means that their accountability extends to the greater public and social good, too.

Automation Is a Critical Part of the Job

Automation has impacted a number of industries, from human resources to marketing to legal services. Increasingly, technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) are handling processes that at one time had to be handled manually. This is thanks to software developers, who are devising new solutions to take care of these important procedures. It’s also helping the developers themselves do their jobs more quickly and efficiently. 

Automation is playing a critical role in streamlining the development process and related procedures in the SDLC, such as testing. Today, much of the QA work is performed via automation, with the QA professionals scripting tests before running them without human intervention.

While automation is replacing some of the most repeatable, routine processes, human technology professionals are still pivotal to software development and must complete more complex processes. Still, they will need to learn more specialized skills, both to carve out a niche in the industry and make themselves indispensable.

Clearly, the software developer’s role has transformed dramatically in recent years and will continue to evolve as the world changes, too. Because these professionals play such a pivotal role in advancing society, it’s no surprise that new responsibilities and expectations are par for the course.

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