It takes a great software development team to make a great software product. Question is, how can you tell if you have one? What exactly defines a “great” software dev team?
Many tech companies often start out fixated on building the next big software product.
They can see it in their mind’s eye being used everywhere by everyone. Just the idea of it fuels their passion and determination to get the project going.
This enthusiasm and focus are good things to have at the start of any project, but they can also distract from the practical, equally important aspects that will actually build that software product. One of the most important yet often overlooked aspects of building software products: a great software development team.
A lot of companies go about it this way: they simply hire software developers and expect their newly formed team to magically start working together, and be as driven and dedicated to their work as they are about their vision. Alas, such is rarely, if ever the case.
In order to build awesome software, you first need an awesome dev team. And to have that, you need to know what defines a great software development team.
What Does a Great Software Development Team Look Like?
Great software dev teams create great software products, and they’re often characterized by the following:
- Effective communication
Great teams communicate well with each other. Each team member is well informed about what the goals are and what is expected of them, and can freely share their ideas and concerns with the rest of the team. They don’t waste time on unnecessary meetings, but do have all of the necessary communication channels and tools available to them.
Effective team communication is focused, clear, and consistent, and enables the team to be more productive. It is spearheaded by team leaders who are effective communicators themselves and lead by example.
- Clear roles and responsibilities
It is essential for teams to have clear roles and responsibilities. While some responsibilities may be shared, each team member must still have well-defined individual responsibilities. This allows everyone in the team to focus on their work, prevents misunderstandings, and develops accountability among all members of the team.
Clear roles and responsibilities extend to the leadership roles. Everyone should know exactly who is ultimately responsible for making technical, design, or product decisions. Without these clearly defined roles, team members may end up passing responsibilities or blame for mistakes. Making critical decisions may also take longer. To avoid such incidents, each team member’s role and responsibilities must be communicated to everyone early on and put into writing.
- Shared goals
Having a clear set of achievable goals right from the start is critical to the success of any team. These goals are what will direct the entire team forward.
Beyond setting goals, however, a great software development team shares the responsibility of achieving these goals among all of its members. The heavy top-down structure, where only management cares about the goals, is avoided. Everyone in the team has and knows their particular role, and at the same time shares the same mission and vision. If they succeed, it is a win for everyone; and if they don’t, they band together to find a way to move forward.
Team leaders are integral to establish this. It is their responsibility to ensure that everyone knows, understands, and buys into the goals. Leaders must also make sure that everyone shares in the rewards of their success. They must also address concerns, dispel doubts, and keep the team focused.
- Organized, well-equipped and cross-functional
The best software development teams are self-organizing. They know their roles and responsibilities; they know what is expected of them; and they have well-structured processes in place. Each team member of an effective software development team is also well-equipped, possessing the skills as well as the tools necessary to fulfill their role within the team. Project owners wisely invest in the right tools, both hardware and software, to enable team members to succeed. At the same time, these teams are also cross-functional in that they can work harmoniously together with team members of other specializations to get the product to the next stage of development.
- Strong culture
The best teams often have a strong culture that binds them together and makes them more effective as a group. They have their own rituals, terms, even nicknames, and they enjoy each other’s company even outside of work hours.
This type of culture can’t be forced, and takes time and the right environment in order to develop. Having a good mix of the right profiles and a leader that pays attention to and encourages the development of culture can also help.
Culture is not only in the way team members relate with one another. How they work within the team also builds this culture. The best software engineering teams have a culture where:
- They leave the codebase cleaner than how they found it.
- They know and share the interests of their potential customers.
- They share and accept accountability even if they have particular domains of focus.
- Every member respects everyone else. They don’t criticize each other but rather, criticize ideas and are open to sharing ideas, past experiences, and new team insights.
- Team members trust each other as well as have fun with each other.
Exceptional software development happens when it is unbridled by top-down permissions, unnecessary processes, and other external controls. Great software development teams need freedom to experiment, find better ways, and become faster and more focused in their work. Setting them up with too many controls, like what tools and processes they should use, permissions they have to get, or resources they must constantly request can only slow them down.
Great software starts with a great software development team. If you already have an existing dev team in your company, see if they possess these characteristics by talking to them one-on-one, having a formal team review, letting them answer a quick survey, or even just casually chatting with your team. The smallest changes you can make towards these ideals can make a big difference.
If you’re still in the process of building your software development team, make sure to keep these traits in mind. As you hire software developers try and assess not only their technical skills, but also their inclinations when working with a team.
And if you need help to hire software developers that will work well with your existing or future team, look to the experts here at CoDev. We’ve helped hundreds of companies build their ideal dev teams with the right offshore software developers and other technical talents. Our proven process and more than a decade of experience ensure the best quality talent for our clients every time. Learn more, get in touch with us today.