When it comes to creating high-quality products in the field of software development, having talented developers is only half the battle. The process also demands efficiency and high speed — and, all too often, that’s hard to come by.
But without a productive, collaborative environment, it’s extraordinarily difficult to build software quickly and ensure that it’s up to par at the same time. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways for businesses and teams to keep their productivity and quality up simultaneously.
Why Is Productivity so Important?
In the technology business, products tend to have a short lifespan. Businesses must constantly put out new software and updates for existing products in order to stay ahead of the curve and ensure they’re meeting consumers’ needs. Productivity is essential in this process — without maximizing output at rapid speed and ensuring that what they build is valuable, businesses will surely fall behind.
Productivity means that businesses are not only working efficiently to stay competitive in an ever-changing environment but also that they are diligent in their approach and have processes in place to ensure that they aren’t skimping on quality.
How to Make Your Software Development Productive
Determine Where You Are
When you’re considering implementing real change — in this case, making your process more productive — you must determine your baseline. Where are you now? How does your development team spend its time? Are there significant bottlenecks? Where?
To determine your starting point, work closely with your team to evaluate their workflow. Ask them to candidly report how they use their time — with the understanding, of course, that they won’t be penalized. This is important data. Perhaps you could distribute anonymous surveys to get a more thorough and accurate view of your current state of productivity.
Once you’ve established your baseline, you can better move forward, planning for ways to address problems.
Establish Clear Goals
To avoid confusion or unawareness on your team, establish and communicate clear goals as they pertain to improving productivity.
Make your goals actionable and achievable. Vague objectives that have no real way of being measured won’t serve you — you’ll have no idea if and when you’ve achieved them, and you won’t be able to use these benchmarks to further your purpose and infuse greater efficiency into your process.
Take Advantage of the Tools Available to You
In today’s digital world, existing software is available for practically any purpose you can imagine — including increasing productivity. Consider implementing tools like time trackers, which, like they sound, track time spent on projects and assignments.
Project management platforms like Trello and Wrike are also available to streamline projects, giving you and your team insight into how the project is progressing. What’s more, these tools will offer you meaningful insights into your process, helping inform your efforts.
Look to Automation
Artificial intelligence and other innovations mean that many formerly manual processes can now be automated. Rather than replacing humans in the software development process, they can handle the monotonous, repetitive components, freeing up time for humans to exercise their talents and take care of the more complex aspects.
Automation plays a fundamental role in quality assurance (QA) testing, for instance. While professionals script tests and use automation in conjunction with manual testing, it does make the overall process more efficient.
You may very well have a talented in-house team. But bringing in an outside team can improve productivity by filling in the gaps at your business. They can, for example, handle aspects on the project that your full-time employees don’t have time to tackle. Or, they can bring missing skills into the fold.
This is an ideal option if you have a small team or are missing certain specializations. You can turn to an outsourcing partner as needed, when you’re in a time crunch or otherwise could use an extra hand.
Productivity is difficult to measure since it isn’t a tangible entity. However, there are still certain ways to evaluate your efforts. Start with your initial definition of productivity. Over time, you can see if you’re meeting that goal.
Consider, too, the amount of time you’re spending on the project, accounting for all team members’ input, against the output — the results. But it’s not just about completing a project. It’s also about the quality of that project.
From the beginning, establish metrics for how you will measure productivity. It’s not necessarily just time spent. It’s also individual efforts and collaboration.
Communication is pivotal for a productive environment. In order for each team member to put forth effort toward an end goal, they must know what that goal is and be in constant contact with their colleagues. Everyone must be on the same page.
Establish channels of communication from the outset. Perhaps Slack will be used for more frequent, casual check-ins, and Zoom will be the primary platform for large, weekly meetings. Meanwhile, there should be a system in place for emergencies.
Keep everyone in the loop, too. This, more than anything, is critical for keeping both productivity and morale high.
How does each team member know whether they are being productive and putting forth maximum effort? Your feedback as a leader plays a critical role. Feedback informs their work and helps them adjust their performance as needed. It also facilitates stronger relationship-building, another key part of solidifying an efficient, high-performing team.
Hone systems for delivering feedback, both to individuals and the larger team. Everyone should be receiving feedback regularly.
A more productive team and overall business means a more efficient, higher-performing software development process. Not only will you see faster turnarounds, but you’ll also see stronger engagement and better products overall.