The Distribution of Knowledge
Knowledge is the foundation on which software companies are built. Unfortunately, knowledge is rarely ever distributed evenly in the team. Often, the team members have different expertise in different areas, which is problematic when a member leaves and a new one comes in at different stages of the project; this often leads to delays in the completion of the project.
To avoid this, companies should ensure they have an effective system for transferring knowledge between the software development team members. Sometimes, software companies will outsource parts of their projects to a third party. This is a great way of getting a project done faster and more efficiently. In addition to helping with project completion, your team can learn new techniques and technologies from the other company. For this to happen, you need to have in place a system to ensure that the third party transfers as much knowledge as possible to your development team.
Below are some methods organizations can use to ensure effective knowledge transfer within the development team:
Pair programming is a technique that involves two programmers sharing a single workstation and working together on a common development problem. The person at the keyboard, known as the “driver,” does the actual coding while the other programmer, known as the “navigator,” inspects the process. The “driver” gives a running commentary on everything he or she is doing. For an effective pair programming session, the two programmers should switch roles now and then.
Pair programming is an effective method of knowledge sharing since the navigator is usually paired with a driver who is skilled in areas in which the navigator is unfamiliar. In addition, the running commentary allows better articulation of coding complexities, helping the navigator grasp tacit knowledge that cannot be transferred through documentation.
Team code reviews
Team code reviews are when the whole development team looks over the code once a programmer is done working on it. The team checks whether there are any logic errors in the code, whether all requirements are met, and whether the new code is in line with existing style guidelines. Code reviews help the less experienced members of the team learn the code base, uncover gems of hidden knowledge within the code, and help them grow their skill sets by learning new techniques and technologies. It also helps your team to ascertain the quality of the code.
Hackathons are competition-style events that require a group of developers to collaborate on a project over a short period of time. After the allocated time is over, each group then presents their project to the other participants. By collaborating to rapidly complete a project, group members are able to learn from each other in an environment that also allows them to apply what they have learned. If you outsource some of your projects to third-party companies, grouping together your developers and those from the other company creates a great opportunity for them to learn from each other.
Brown Bag Lunches (BBL)
These are more of networking events where the team members bring their own food and socialize together over lunch, sharing information and knowledge in a relaxed setup. Brown Bag Lunches present a good opportunity for developers to catch up on the latest industry trends and best practices.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach for effective knowledge transfer within software development teams. Instead, organizations should find the right combination that works well based on their team and workload. Hackathons and paired programming help the team learn within a short period of time while team code reviews and Brown Bag Lunches are great long-term learning methods.