7 Important Tips for Managing a Successful Software Development Team
What does it take to make your software development team successful? Many thriving development teams showcase a lot of mutual aspects. Add the high team spirit of all team members and eagerness to learn from mistakes and grow as a team, and you have the perfect foundation for a prospering dev team. However, let’s not forget the essential role of team leaders and their contributions. All tech knowledge aside, managing a software development team takes a lot of effort, soft skills and courage.
Working in a bespoke software development company with 15+ years of experience in developing solutions in aviation, healthcare, banking and logistics, I understand the value of good managerial practices. We don’t solely look for clients but care for building long-lasting partnerships that promote the sustainable growth of both parties. People are not viewed as assets but as individuals with their unique passions, and they’re supported to develop their talents.
Now, let’s see these 7 insightful tips for managing a development team:
- Acknowledge and Analyze the Current Situation
Being context-aware can be one of the most important things for success in business and in life. If you are leading a team of developers, take some time to assess the ongoing situation, how people react to it and what strategies they use to deal with it. Maybe some of your teammates are just returning to the physical office and seem withdrawn. Perhaps others still hesitate to work on-site and prefer to continue working remotely if they have this as an alternative choice.
The possible configurations are endless. The point is that it is important for you as a manager to distinguish any existing fears your teammates might have and support them during this transition back to reality. Maybe someone’s whole attitudes towards work and life have changed while the pandemic was surging. It is your responsibility as a team leader to recognize these and try to communicate them gently with the particular person because otherwise, you risk the motivation and productivity of your whole software development team.
- Implement a Working Methodology
The classic Waterfall methodology, where there was a strict division between planning and development of a software product, now seems outdated. Although the reasons are numerous, the leading factor is that the digital world we live in today is fast-paced, challenging and ever-changing. Many business owners don’t even have a clear understanding of what software solution their company actually needs when contacting vendors, or the idea changes fast because of competitive market conditions.
That’s why Agile is an increasingly preferred software development methodology. Agile development means dividing the development process into smaller sections (iterations) and examining the results in detail. One of the most famous Agile frameworks is Scrum, implementing a role division within the team. First, there is the Scrum Master, who is responsible for following the methodology guidelines and motivating the team. Then, there is the Product Owner who takes care of maximizing both business and technical product values and guiding the team. Finally, the Developers do the magic by doing the actual code writing.
- Learn to Provide Feedback
When it comes to giving feedback, make it as specific as possible and spare general statements. The core presumption behind feedback is personal improvement, so make sure you balance between what is already excellent and areas that need optimizations. There is a simple problem-solving technique called the five whys that my colleagues sometimes use, and it can also be applied to giving feedback. As soon as you define a problem, start seeking the root cause by asking why five times in a row – it helps identify hidden reasons and plan workable solutions.
In case you wish to dive deeper into team management, I recommend The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. Dysfunctional teams tend to exhibit one or more of these problems: absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, lack of accountability or inattention to results. As a result, individual members or the whole team experience poor performance, leading to negative feedback.
- Give Clear Requirements
Learning to give clearly defined requirements and precise feedback is another essential quality of successful team leads. Correctly formulated requirements are key to building first-class software. In an Agile software development company, it is standard to have a weekly meeting with the clients and discuss whether business requirements need changing.
Managing a team involves clearly communicating vital information because otherwise, it can happen that software developers produce what they assume is correct but ultimately miss the target and waste time and resources. Make sure to set clear project goals and next steps, prioritize them according to importance and urgency, and provide a thriving work atmosphere to accomplish them.
- Make the Most of Available Technology
There are tons of online collaboration tools available out there, e.g. Jira, Trello, Asana and many others. Basically, these are goal-oriented and user-friendly software solutions that make communication over distance easier and provide project management features such as documentation, prioritizing, task scheduling, etc. Whereas you don’t always require a collaborative platform, it is an enormous help to share valuable resources and keep track of urgent tasks on the go.
For instance, if you manage a small team and you share an office space, you can coordinate processes together without the use of special software. However, the more are involved in a project, the more challenging keeping up with everything can become. This is where such tools unfold their full collaborative potential, e.g. when using contractors and external partners outside the company’s network.
- Managing Remote Teams
For more than a year now, remote teams, are nothing unusual and exotic. Expectations are that this trend will continue even after the Covid-19 pandemic subsides, so it is advisable to consider, some tips for leading and managing remote teams as future references.
A 2020 Forbes article states that understanding that remote work can be incredibly demanding is a good starting point. For successfully managing a software development team, leaders need to recognize the amplified importance of factors such as the lack of direct supervision, prolonged social isolation, home distractions or lack of access to vital information.
- Prioritize Psychological Safety
So much has changed in most organizations over the past 18 months that even seasoned employees may be feeling unmoored. The last one was exactly what Priyanka Sharma was talking about in her webinar on psychological safety for hybrid teams. She insisted that no matter what, exclusion occurs one way or another.
It doesn’t matter if it’s randomly sharing information with those working from the office or making the decisions without consulting remote employees or having private jokes with particular colleagues. People feel more sensitive about being excluded when working remotely, and this can lead to team separation, collaboration problems.
Also Read: Why You Should Not Postpone Software Update