Conventional wisdom dictates that if you want to catch a raccoon, you must think like one. There is a lot of hype and misconception on how easy it is to create a bespoke software development company. On the contrary, building a strong software development company with a coherent team that works to successfully execute tasks isn’t an easy feat.
Which therefore begs the question: What is the most efficient way to build a software development team that cuts across all departments?
In this article, we will try and decipher what constitutes a great software development team, the challenges, and the nuggets on how to build one.
For starters what constitutes a great software development team? A great software development team should be able to drive the innovation from inside. Individuals within the software development team are productive, challenge each other, and have fun while at it. Needless to say, the team leader is always motivated and have an infectious energy that spreads out through the entire team and company.
Common Pits in Building an Efficient Team
1. Lack of Trust
Trust is one of the crucial ingredients to a great team. It starts with lack of personal and professional connection which breeds tensions. Team members should be encouraged to acquaint and interact with each other.
2. Conflict and Tension
If carefully managed, conflicting opinions can prove beneficial to the company in terms of an alternative insight resulting in innovation. However, if not carefully handled, they can completely cripple down an organization.
Occasionally, companies will face the problem of employees lacking a forward-thinking mentality which blurs the bigger picture which may clip the company’s sustainability. Thinking beyond areas of specialization may help curtail this dangerous behavior.
4. Lack of a Clear Direction
Lack of a clear vision and goals means that every employer has a blurred idea of what is expected of them. As a team leader it’s important to note that if you don’t walk with everyone, you are simply taking a walk.
How to build a strong software development team
On top of thorough vetting during recruitment, below are seven tips a software development company can implement to build a strong team.
1. Good Organization and Tools Utilization
Whether a company has an in-house team or are outsourcing, an agile software development is always focused on efficiency and automation. For this to happen, they must be organized and use automation tools.
Being efficient also translates to having occasional meetings. They are a great remedy in ascertaining whether everyone understands what their role is and what it is they are expected to execute.
Lastly, a great team also ensures they clearly set goals and parameters to check whether they have been reached. Basically, a checklist of what is expected of them.
2. Empower Team Members to Contribute
Software developers are typically considered and treated as nerds whose comfort zone is behind the computer. This shouldn’t be the case especially if a company is looking to build an agile team as they may occasionally find themselves in conflict with the management on any given task or project.
For a company to get the best from their software development team, it should encourage them to air their contribution to what they are working on. Additionally, give them the freedom to create their own priorities, determine specific technologies to use for particular projects and the road maps to execute the project.
“True empowerment lies in allowing teams to run ideas and execute them but holding them accountable for the decisions they make” Jeff McConathy the VP of engineering for consumer services.
3. Document Coding and Set Development Standards
As a developer, you may have come across a quilt in the name of a codebase that’s packed with multiple formatting and programming styles. This may be as a result of incoherent development standards.
It is extremely important for a company to set standards and continuously document them. Irrespective of whether the standards are derived by consensus or even consulting outsiders it’s good to document and actually follow them. This is particularly important when new programmers join the company as it helps them to easily integrate. As an added bonus, the standards should be actively safeguarded using continuous integration tools.
4. Encourage Cross-pollination
Another great way of facilitating efficiency and cohesion is to break down the work-related barriers by exposing team members to interact with fellow colleagues they rarely interact with in the course of their daily duties.
Instead of profiling them in their usual teams, cross-pollinate them across teams during brainstorming meetings for them to come up with solutions.
Once they step out of their comfort zones, they are developing the much-needed versatility and problem-solving skills.
Teams should also be encouraged to hold brief weekly interactions to share their progress and challenges.
5. Occasionally Escape the Office Environment
We are living a world where the nature of work keeps on changing with freedom and autonomy being the new king. In a bid to catch up with this ever-changing environment, companies are looking for non-monetary ways of incentivizing and retaining their valuable workers.
Since the limits of software developers lie in their mind, the office environment may prevent them from thriving. If they like to work in a café, let them be as long as it doesn’t affect the team coherence.
Alternatively, the company can organize for workshops, hackathons, or even fun activities outside the office. This allows for team building and ironing out inefficiencies which ensure the team is reading from the same script once they return to the office.
6. Keep Constant Communication
A software development company outstaffing IT services may not necessarily have the resources to fly in all the remote workers in a central location for a meeting. How then do they keep ensuring everyone in the loop?
Get on the creative side by holding virtual meetings and video conferencing. Some companies have gone ahead by hosting happy hours virtually. This way the keep is in synch and gets to know each which works magic in enhancing the efficiency of the team.
7. Hire and Promote Within
Attracting and retaining great software developers is one of the biggest headaches for many companies. This is because replacing a top talent is always times consuming which would have otherwise been spent on other productive activities.
Before contacting recruitment agencies, it’s always good to look from within. This way, the developer will feel that their efforts towards the company growth are being recognized.
If the skills can be found within the current workforce, always request your developers to recommend a friend or an ex-worker. A developer working with a friend will most likely be productive as opposed to working with a complete stranger.
How To Measure Success of Your Team and Improve It
Typically, most software development teams are productive in cases where the continuity level is high. By having a churn metric in the company, you can properly track and monitor their productivity.
It’s important to note that developers occasionally rotate and split time between multiple projects. In this process, they often waste calories shifting context and time trying to catch up. This is especially important in determining visibility and productivity of the outsourced teams.
By determining what individuals are tasked with a specific task, a company can make strides in not only reducing redundancies and slackness but also allocate resources.
If you are looking to build an effective and efficient software development team, business objectives and the client’s deadlines should be your priority. However, if you are out of touch with your team and what motivates them, you have no company.
The key is to encourage your teams to collaborate with an implied expectation of improved joint output. Without that, you risk of jeopardizing, your chances of succeeding.