You may not know this, but software development can be very challenging. Not only are software engineers tasked with creating the tools that your entire business depends on, but sometimes they also have to do so under the stress of impossible deadlines. And it doesn’t matter how many developers you hire, the projects they work on are only going to continue to grow exponentially.
That means the pressure will compound. And as demand grows, so will your need to scale. As that need increases, you’ll be placing those developers under even more pressure. When that possibility becomes a reality, you need to be certain your engineers have developed a workflow that makes the job easier, not more complicated and confusing.
But what does that mean? Does it mean you give them the best hardware for the job and ensure their work environment is conducive to being productive? Yes, you certainly do those things. However, improving the developer workflow requires much more than that.
Let’s take a look and see what you and your developers can do to improve their processes.
Spend Time Doing Initial Research and Development
If you dive into a project without spending enough time upfront on research and development, that project is going to get bogged down quickly. And the more complicated a project is, the worst this will get. Before that first line of code is written, it’s imperative that every stakeholder involved spends plenty of time answering every possible question they can. The more information you have about the project, the smoother it will run.
This is even more important when the project is something that will either fit into your current delivery pipeline or is intended for a third party or client. Hold meetings with every developer on the project before it begins in earnest to make sure everyone is on the same page and all questions are answered.
Don’t skip this step, otherwise, the workflow will be filled with bottlenecks and speed bumps.
Develop Process and Style Guides
Writers have plenty of style guides to lead them and simplify their workflows. There’s no reason why your developers should be working without such a guide. These guides should include topics like methodologies for inline code comments, libraries to be used, how code should be structured, languages used, and team assignments.
Make sure these style guides are laid out in an easy-to-read format, with concise wording to avoid any confusion. These guides should also include team hierarchy and contact information, so anyone can reach out to a project leader or co-developer.
Employ Peer Code Reviews
Don’t require your developers to review their own work. Any writer will tell you that it’s next to impossible to edit their own work because mistakes easily slip through the cracks. There are a lot of reasons this happens, which is why writers employ copywriters and editors to check their work.
The same thing should hold true for your developers. Not only will your developers miss mistakes, but their process will also be dramatically slowed down because they’re having to spend extra time checking for the slightest mistake. Assign each developer a peer (or team of peers) to review their code, so any and all mistakes are discovered efficiently.
Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery is all about speed and efficiency. It’s also about automation, which can turbo boost the developer workflow. The idea with CI/CD is that, through automation and specific tools, delivery happens at incredible speeds. Bugs can be discovered via automated tools and, once fixed, the application is deployed automatically.
Although CI/CD can be a big challenge to integrate, the time you spend upfront will be made up as your developers begin using a workflow that is focused on speed and reliability. Even better, the end results will be far more reliable and any updates will be pushed out as a part of the automated lifecycle.
Work with Virtual Machines
Virtual Machines can go a long way to easing the developer workflow. For one, using virtual machines makes it incredibly easy to deploy a quick development environment. You could use a tool such as VirtualBox, create a custom virtual machine (that includes every tool necessary) and then clone that environment as needed. Even better, if something goes wrong with a virtual machine, it can be rolled back to a previous working iteration, so very little work is lost.
Another very handy way virtual machines can help with the workflow is that those custom VMs can be exported as appliances and shared across a team. That means every developer on a project is working within the exact same environment. By doing this, you can strip away any platform issues that might have otherwise occurred between developers.
Make those virtual machines (or appliances) available to download from a company server, and your developers can quickly spin up the necessary environment and get to work.
Even if you’ve hired the absolute best developers, they might not be able to produce at the level demand requires if you don’t go the extra mile to help make their workflow efficient. By implementing these suggestions, you can be certain your software engineers will enjoy an efficient and helpful workflow.