A software development team is often one of the most crucial aspects of a business, as its performance and productivity can directly affect the success of a business. Naturally, you’ll want to get the most out of this team, but in order to get the most, you first need to give the most.
How do you get the most juice out of a lemon?
- Roll the lemon firmly on a hard, smooth surface
- Warm the lemon by briefly putting it into a bowl of warm water
- Poke the insides of the cut lemon with a fork
How do you get the most out of your software development team?
For starters, you definitely don’t treat them like lemons.
While putting pressure and heat, as well as constant prodding, may work to get more juice out of lemons, such tactics will not work on software developers. If anything it will only sour your relationship with them (pun intended), and cause them to quit.
Software development teams are in many cases the most valuable and crucial component of a business. Getting the maximum performance from them will greatly benefit the business as a whole. But it has to be done the right way, otherwise things could go terribly wrong.
So how can you get the most out of your software development team?
Know What You’re Up Against
The first step: know what it is that you are actually taking on.
Most development team managers are developers that got promoted to their role. While they are experienced and very skilled in software development, this does not directly translate in them being good team managers. Some may be used to working alone, while others simply don’t have any leadership experience.
It’s crucial for you and/or whoever is leading your team to understand what challenges you’ll be facing when managing a software development team. This will enable you to take the proactive steps for avoiding or overcoming these challenges, and get your team to where they need to be.
Some of the most common challenges of managing software development teams include:
- Developer burnout – Coding can be mentally strenuous and monotonous, and most of it is done in solitude. This can make it difficult to determine when a developer may be experiencing burnout.
- Lack of organization and prioritization – When you have a number of different projects and people under you, organization and prioritization can become a challenge. Without proper organization and prioritization of tasks however, some developers may feel either overwhelmed or neglected.
- Remote work issues – Many developers prefer to work remotely, and are doing so especially now with pandemic restrictions in place. This offers many benefits but also comes with its own pitfalls, such as causing feelings of isolation and remote communication issues.
- Developer turnover – With fierce competition vying for development talent, developer turnover can be notoriously high. A high turnover rate means people keep coming and going without any commitment or sense of ownership to the project, which leaves the project in broken parts and developers always having to pick up on half-completed code.
It will take some team essentials (which are listed below), and a great leader to steer any team to success amidst such challenges. Speaking of which–
Pick the Right Project Manager
Whether that manager is you or someone else of your choosing, that person needs to be well aware of their responsibilities. Getting a good manager is crucial to getting the most out of your dev team. Managers are responsible for ensuring the team performs at their best and have all the resources they need; for defining milestones and goals for the team; and doing what is necessary to help the team achieve its goals. A good manager also ensures that communication channels are open and effective among team members, and that each member is and feels heard.
Project managers should not only be technically savvy, but equipped with good soft skills as well. Soft skills like helpfulness, active listening, and encouragement can come a long way in keeping a team at their best.
Once you’ve got a good project manager on your side, then the real work begins.
To get the most, you’ve got to give the most. But give the most of what exactly? When it comes to the management of a software development team, here are the top 7 things you need to focus on:
This is one of the most important ingredients to an effective software development team, or any team for that matter. But communication among team members can be fraught with challenges, especially when you have a remote developer or offshore development team with whom you can only communicate online. A lot of vital communication cues can be missing with online communication platforms, making it difficult to ascertain someone’s real meaning, intent, or tone. This can often lead to misunderstandings.
So what can you do? Start by making sure you have fixed and consistent one-on-ones and team meetings. Establish guidelines for all kinds of communication, and have an open-door policy so team members can always approach you with anything.
When setting tasks or passing on directives, make sure to be very clear and give as much context as possible, especially when communicating online. It’s very important to make your message as clear as possible so as not to be misunderstood.
A team works best when it is focused on a goal and a clear set of tasks to achieve this goal. As the project manager or team leader it is your responsibility to set this goal, appropriately allocate tasks, and make sure that everyone is on board and stays on the course towards your goal.
Micromanagement may be good in some situations, but in managing dev teams it definitely is not. One of the most basic things that developers want from their managers is trust: trust that they can do their work well without someone hovering over them. Make sure you give your developers the space and agency they need to do their work.
Also, encourage your developers to make important decisions on their own. Having your say in every decision is not only time consuming, it is hardly beneficial. By allowing team members to make their own decisions, you give your team autonomy, show them that you trust them, hasten operations, and free up your own time.
When you recognize people for their contributions and performance, it encourages them and boosts their confidence. It makes people feel good about the work they do.
Recognizing accomplishments in software development can be a bit tricky though, as results can be difficult to quantify. You could start simply by recognizing a job well done, a deadline met or accomplished ahead of time, or any positive behavior you feel merits public recognition that would benefit the whole team.
To get the most out of your dev team, you need to invest in your dev team. That means providing them with the resources and learning opportunities they need to improve and do their best work.
Different people require different hardware and software solutions, as well as different learning methodologies. Getting each team member every single thing they ask for will definitely cost you a pretty penny. Instead, set up a certain budget for training and development needs, and thoroughly discuss any tool and equipment requirements with your team to make sure you don’t include anything unnecessary.
In order to do their best work, your dev team needs to be able to focus. Give them the space and time they need to do so by keeping non-core tasks to a minimum, and providing equipment like noise cancelling headphones to help them focus. Remote developers are often able to have more focused work time due to their distraction-free environment. But if you work in an office you can still achieve this by offering unused conference or meeting rooms as focus spaces. Should any member of your team need a couple of hours to solve a sticky problem or meet a deadline, these rooms can be open to them and guaranteed to be totally free from interruptions or distractions.
We all need a little pick-me-up every now and again, especially when it comes to work. Give your team those shots of motivation and encouragement by offering flexibility, a more comfortable work environment, better work-life balance, in-office perks, and other little things they could enjoy.
By keeping these 7 things in mind when managing your software development team, achieving maximum productivity and stellar results should soon be within your reach.
Of course, all this is only possible assuming that you’ve already got a pretty solid team of developers in your company. If the people in your team do not have the skills, passion, and determination needed for your project, all the above efforts may be for naught.
If you’re having difficulty finding good people for your team or are yet to build a software development team for your project, CoDev can help. CoDev is an established offshore outsourcing company that specializes in procuring highly skilled and experienced offshore developers. We know what it takes to build an exceptional software development team that can take your project to the next level. Learn more about us, our services, and our proven process by getting in touch with us today.