How Vercel measures developer experience with DX


Vercel is the Frontend Cloud that enables teams to build, scale, and secure a faster, personalized web.

Key results
95%+ participation rate on every DX survey
Deep Work and Requirements Quality improved from being top-ranked issues
80%+ of teams take action based on insights from DX surveys

Vercel began growing their engineering headcount significantly beginning in early 2020. As the company grew, their leadership wanted to make sure that systems and processes weren’t impeding their developers’ productivity.

Vercel’s VP of Engineering, Lindsey Simon, had prior experience running developer experience surveys as a way to identify where teams were experiencing friction, and recognized the significant investment required to continually design and administer surveys on their own. By implementing DX, Vercel has saved hundreds of hours each year and been able to focus on interpreting and taking action based on their results. Simon explained: “When we discovered DX, a product that draws on research to ask the right questions in the context of software engineering, that was really appealing because we know how difficult that is.”

Through the use of DX, Vercel’s engineering organization captures insights and trends each quarter, which they use to ensure their engineers are as happy and productive as possible.

DX is like having a superpower within your organization to know what’s working and what’s not.”
- Lindsey Simon, VP of Engineering

Identifying opportunities to improve

Since implementing DX, Vercel has achieved 95%+ participation rates in each of their DX surveys, uncovering opportunities for engineering managers and executives to take action. Simon stated: "DX is like having a superpower within your organization to know what’s working and what’s not.”

Below are some examples of insights that DX has provided:

  • The engineering team’s release process was an area where the company needed to make a more coordinated effort to improve, so they formed a tiger team to focus on that area. “Sometimes you can encourage teams to tackle these issues, and sometimes you need to make more aggressive investments,” Simon explained.
  • Teams were flagging “connectedness” as something they wanted to improve. “That was something we hadn’t really prioritized prior to our first round of DX surveys as heavily,” Simon explains. “Since then we’ve instituted far better EM-IC ratios and done in-person meet-ups, and have seen real improvements there.”
  • They have also learned how new team members perceive areas of their developer experience versus those who have been at the company for much longer, which has been useful as they have grown quickly.

Driving continuous improvement

DX has helped Vercel continuously improve developer productivity through lightweight processes. Each quarter, engineering leadership shares key findings from the latest DX survey along with themes for teams to focus on. Engineering managers also review results with their individual teams, setting focus areas within DX to track areas they want to improve. Vercel runs DX surveys on a quarterly cadence to spark new improvements and hold themselves accountable for plans committed to in the past.

To encourage developers to make improvements to developer experience on their own, Vercel has begun promoting scope of impact in their engineering Career Growth Framework. Simon explained: “If you can do work that affects the team or entire organization, that’s a high level of impact. If you can make the testing infrastructure faster, we can multiply that by the number of engineers and clearly see the impact.”

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