Your development team has stagnated and productivity has slowed to a crawl. Why is this? Is it because of an internal issue or something external? Are you suffering from attrition, or is it a deeper issue within the department or company?
The truth is, how you form and manage your development teams will have a profound and direct impact on how successful those teams are. It’s absolutely essential that you build those development teams from the ground up, with certain ideas and ideologies in mind. Otherwise, they will run into a wall, preventing them from being productive at a level your company requires.
So what are those keys for a successful development team? We have ten such keys that every business leader should consider when either first putting together a development team or when it comes time to reboot or tweak those teams.
Let’s dive in and see how you can ensure the development teams you hire and/or manage will have a better shot at success.
Understanding of Business Issues
When push comes to shove, the end goal of your development teams is that everything they do must meet the needs of your business. Every decision, every project, and every line of code is made in such a way that it is in line with the goals of not just the project at hand but the company as a whole. That means you and/or your management team must make sure those teams understand the business issues that affect your company and your sector. Don’t leave those teams guessing. Instead, place these issues front and center, so your teams are always aware of the big picture goals.
Domain Knowledge is knowledge of a specific and specialized field. Your development teams must have a solid understanding of their domain—what they do, what they were hired to do, and how to complete their part of the project. Although domain knowledge (which is the opposite of general knowledge) can lead to stakeholders working in silos, it’s absolutely critical that your developers completely understand their domain and how it applies to the project as a whole.
Along with domain knowledge, your development teams also must have a sound technical ability. This isn’t just about hiring developers who know every aspect of Java, but also how to use related frameworks to build applications, how to do frontend or backend development, how to integrate with databases, and how to use Integrated Development Environments for more efficient software engineering.
So not only do your developers have to have a strong ability to write code, but they also need to understand how to use other types of technology to make their jobs more productive.
This is not just about your team’s ability to create scalable applications, but their ability to scale themselves. As your business continues to grow, you will eventually need to hire more developers to keep up with demand and the need to remain agile. When that happens, your development team needs to be able to quickly assimilate those new developers into the workflow.
Without the ability to scale, your development teams will quickly stagnate and your business will suffer.
Those teams of engineers must be engaged with the project. That doesn’t necessarily mean they must act as cheerleaders and champions for the project, but they must show an active interest in the process and be fully committed to its successful completion. If you find developers who aren’t actively engaged, they will cause bottlenecks and frustration within the team, with managers, and with customers.
When developers check out of a project and start “phoning it in,” you will have a problem on your hands. Because of that, it’s important to periodically check in on developer engagement.
Questions and Answers
Your development teams should be asking questions. Always. From start to finish, those engineers should never hesitate to pose questions to designers, managers, other developers, COOs, CIOs, and CEOs. At the same time, it’s imperative that those being asked the questions have the answers. If your development teams are frequently met with “I don’t know,” they’ll stop asking questions. When developers stop asking questions, bad things can happen to a project.
This one is a bit on the obvious side. However, it’s not just important that your development team displays teamwork among themselves, but among every department that is directly or indirectly affected by their work. If your teams refuse to play nicely with operations, IT, PR, marketing, HR, and staff members, they cannot be effective and/or productive.
Along with teamwork, your development teams absolutely must be able to effectively communicate with one another and with those outside of the team. Communication isn’t limited to the likes of Slack, Asana, ProofHub, Trello, email, or text. Your developers need to be able to stand in front of a group and effectively communicate their ideas, progress, and intent. Without the ability to communicate well, your development teams are going to struggle to work with other departments or third-party offshore entities.
To seriously keep up with the competition and demand, your development teams are going to have to add automation into the mix. By including automation in the software development lifecycle, you offload many manual and repetitive tasks into automated systems, which guarantees those tasks will be more reliable, repeatable, and efficient. Without automation, your teams are going to struggle to keep up with the constant demand for bigger, better, and faster deployments.
Unfortunately, documentation is one of the last things your development teams are going to worry about. That’s problematic, especially as developers move from one team to another, or you have to hire to replace those who’ve left. Without proper documentation for apps and the development process, anyone new to the team is going to have trouble getting up to speed.
If your development teams keep solid documentation (for their process and within their code), any developer should be able to drop in and pick up as though they were there all along.
Putting together, keeping, and managing a successful development team doesn’t have to be that big of a challenge. If you keep these keys in mind from the beginning, your teams will be effective and productive. But don’t look at this list as the be-all-end-all because every team and every business is unique. Take this list and mold it to perfectly fit the needs of your company, and you shouldn’t have any problems keeping these teams running smoothly and successfully.