Developing the developer experience – How TomTom'ers are boosting productivity and innovation
Christian Lynn·May 16, 2024

Developing the developer experience – How TomTom'ers are boosting productivity and innovation

Christian Lynn
Staff Writer
May 16, 2024 · 4 min read
How TomTom'ers are boosting productivity and innovation | TomTom Newsroom

Developers can only go so far with their extensive knowledge and skillset when so much of their time is taken up with low-value, repetitive tasks and infrastructure maintenance. They also need the tools to deliver their best work. While TomTom’ers already have a suite of high-quality applications to help them realize the real-time map, one team's mission is to take this even further. We interviewed a Product Manager in the Internal Developer Experience (IDX) team, Silvia Longo, to find out more…

Silvia shared that “the IDX team is user-, customer- and product-centric. We want to understand internal user challenges so we can ensure a constant feedback loop and improve our products to be streamlined into the best possible solution for our customers.”  So, what about our TomTom’ers who make this possible? Silvia informs us of another important role that the IDX team fulfills: “We want to make sure that the TomTom engineering community has the tools and instruments to make these improvements happen.”  

In fact, the IDX recently launched a set of initiatives “to help remove time-consuming tasks, improve productivity and accelerate value delivery,” Silvia explains, “while emphasizing a connected experience in which engineers can focus on bringing their ideas to production.” Basically, to make TomTom’ers’ lives easier and their work even more fulfilling.  

Easier, more efficient and less time-consuming

A big aim was to remove “duplication and reusable workflows.” One way the IDX team achieved this is by improving the efficiency of the developer value stream. Teams were shifted to a managed infrastructure and CI/CD pipelines within GitHub to offload unnecessary work and application maintenance while reducing context switching.  Also, productivity is automatically measured using a key set of metrics, identifying where time is being lost so developers can focus on what matters. Distractions that make up parts of the software development life cycle (SDLC) for new TomTom products are identified with the IDX team’s help.  Then there are the monthly demos, newsletters, and the plan to create a centralized platform for developers to access information around documentation, tools, services and the KPIs around the SDLC for a respective product. Silvia describes how these “decrease the time to access information and empower engineering teams to actively participate in the design and development of our solutions.” So, processes are sped up and TomTom’ers learn and share more.  

So, why do any of these initiatives ultimately matter? Because, according to Silvia, “Developers now have reduced friction and brain load in their daily work.” TomTom’ers can now focus on the big picture stuff. They can deliver new features and products more quickly and efficiently, and they can prioritize problem-solving and the large-scale development of products such as TomTom Orbis Maps. 

What comes next? 

As with any initiative within TomTom, the result is another step towards the next innovation. It starts with the separate IDX teams transitioning into the Platform Engineering organization. This brings the existing SDLC supporting infrastructure and tools together and accelerates the delivery of key initiatives to TomTom’s entire engineering group. In terms of the initiatives themselves, firstly, the all-important topic of the hour: AI. Developers are already benefitting from GitHub Copilot, an AI solution that assists engineers in writing, testing and documenting our products. TomTom’ers can cut out a lot of low-value code and documentation creation: “85% of developers feel more productive with GitHub Copilot, and 70% feel they can focus on delivering even more satisfying work,” Silvia reveals.  But this can go one step further. The Platform Engineering group is investigating other ways that AI solutions can be integrated into development workflows, automating other repetitive tasks in the software development life cycle while providing intelligent insights to empower teams to make more data-driven decisions.  The centralized developer portal is a big help, giving TomTom’ers a one-stop shop for all the docs, tools, data and support they need. Plus, eyes are open for new tools and capabilities on the market moving forward.  The world of software development is shifting. Now, TomTom’ers can put their energy into fixing the hurdles that stand in the way of millions of people worldwide, changing the way people see and move.  

Thanks to people like Silvia and the IDX team (now part of the Platform Engineering organization), TomTom’ers can put their name on the future of geolocation technology in a meaningful way. Life at TomTom is all about giving developers the freedom to innovate, rather than just work. This is another step in ensuring that is the case.  

Are you an innovator? Join a community of developers who have each other’s backs and make each other stronger.  

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