A great software development team is not something just created by chance. The thing is, it’s typically not enough to lock a group of people in a room and give them a task to complete on or before a specific deadline.
A successful team is not primarily about professionalism; it’s also about how each of the members interacts with each other. Only software development teams that are truly efficient can manage to finish the workload faster and be more productive in the process. Also, it’s nice to be part of a team that, well, doesn't mess up a lot.
According to research, most projects fail primarily due to a lack of confidence in its success. A large number of respondents admit that their projects are often doomed right from the start, which goes to show how little faith team members generally have in what they are doing.
But why is that happening and can you do something to change that?
To function more effectively, a team should know every aspect of the project, their own duties, and responsibilities, and believe in their capacity. So here’s how to optimize your team dynamic for a successful software development project.
1. Define your team’s goal.
First and foremost, the goals of your team should be articulated clearly to avoid confusion. Not having a proper list of objectives might make your team members busy spinning their wheels without producing significant results towards one goal.
With a clearer plan, it’s easier to achieve milestones in the project - so setting goals should be one of your priorities. For instance, you may be developing software for a medical device. If the output is a matter of life and death for patients, then you need to allocate additional resources. This ensures the system is documented thoroughly, and the implementation is tested properly before one line of code is written.
2. Share experiences and knowledge.
When it comes to getting your project up and running, sharing experiences and knowledge across all team members is critical. By actively joining showcases, product demonstrations, and established communities of practice, the knowledge of your organization increases much faster than if every team tries to learn everything by itself.
Another benefit of sharing experiences is forming relationships among teams that gives room for more effective collaboration.
3. Practice good communication and collaboration.
Without proper communication and collaboration, attaining high performance within the software development team and the delivery process will be quite challenging. In an agile model, teams should be able to show close collaboration and commitment to stakeholders during the process of iteration planning. They should also be open to feedback during review meetings.
Some excellent ways to help teams collaborate effectively include messaging systems, video conferencing, access to high-end infrastructure, and other modern tools for communication.
4. Generate an energizing and positive work culture.
Individuals that fail to open with each other and their stakeholders leads to reduced trust within the team. Team members who trust others are more open-minded when it comes to receiving suggestions and feedback. They are generally more cheerful, often encouraging others to express their ideas.
These important attributes can be easily spread among team members through certain activities like discussions without a specific agenda, celebrating small victories, and continuous motivation from leadership.
5. Set individual expectations for team members.
Having a one-on-one conversation with members of your team is important. After determining their roles, discuss with them the priorities and expected contribution from them in order to achieve the team’s collective goal.
Frequent conversations are effective ways to offer people feedback and help effectively manage time. This gives your developers an opportunity to improve their overall performance.
When people feel overwhelmed, stressed, or pushed in too many directions, that kind of tension will show through and affect the entire team. Another thing to remember is to let the developers figure out how to get to their individual goals.
Instead of providing direct orders, ask questions that lead to the answers. This teaches the developer to figure out possible solutions to specific problems and make the entire team more efficient.
6. Make the troubleshooting process faster.
Developers tend to fall into different categories when it comes to troubleshooting problems in a software development project. There are people who rely on Stackoverflow or Google and do the copy-paste method without completely understanding how the solution works. Others rely on trial-and-error, spending hours upon hours of work just to arrive at a single solution.
Most senior developers are not like that. While they are proficient at researching and looking for answers via Google, they don’t just copy and paste lines of code. Instead, they read and analyze source code to understand how the problem can be solved, and come up with their own solutions.
Teams can benefit from this method. Pairing senior developers with junior programmers can help speed up the troubleshooting process in a software development project. It also allows new developers to learn the best practices when troubleshooting on their own.
7. Maintain a proper schedule.
Software development is a team sport that requires the participation of product managers, clients, partners, designers, and so many other collaborators. Developers who follow a fixed schedule become far more productive than those who don’t.
Encourage your team members to arrive on time every day. People who are late to work not only reduce their own efficiency but also the productivity of those who are depending on them. Additionally, tardiness reduces collaboration window with managers and clients–so it should be avoided by members of a software development team.
Think of building a software development team as creating your own baseball team. Each member needs to know their specific role, where they should be on the field, and the goal everyone must strive for. Having excellent professionals is not enough; they need to complement each other like pieces of a puzzle.
Knowing how to appreciate great teamwork is also essential. Celebrate not only the big milestones but the small achievements on the way to reaching your ultimate goal.
Better yet, create a software development team that will want to collaborate with each other even after the project is over. This serves as a sign that you did a great job in optimizing your team’s dynamic during the development process.