The best tech teams are more than the sum of their parts, and you cannot always rely on your star developers to do the heavy lifting. Software application development requires the collective effort of experts, who, even though tech-savvy, rarely collaborate seamlessly.
The truth is, even if your team consists of the best developers, there are always opportunities to make their work more effective. And it is your job, as a manager to help your team turn frictions into productive energy. In this blog post, we’re going to share with you our thoughts on how to position your development team for success.
Let’s first make sure we have the same understanding of what a successful team is.
What makes a development team successful
In terms of an end product, the answer is simple: A successful team delivers an expected result within a planned timeframe. On an operational level, however, the definitions of success may vary. We’ll stick to the one given by the Scrum Guide and say that a thriving Agile team is driven by Scrum Values:
- focus on work
- commitment to achieving end goals
- openness to ideas
- courage to make decisions
- respect for other team members
These values make a solid ground for great collaboration, and so are likely to drive productivity and innovation. How to make your team live and breathe them, then?
Create the right environment for your team to develop
Agile IT teams tend to operate in volatile conditions. As Jeremy Sweeney, a London-based Leadership Team Coach, points out, at the current rate of change, in order to be effective teams need to make high-quality decisions autonomously. Only this way, they’ll be able to adapt to changes at pace.
Sweeney has come up with a decision making framework for Agile teams that we strongly recommend getting familiar with. His method systematizes the decision-making process and enables every team member to have a say, without impeding the work. And, most of all, it supports all the Scrum values we’ve mentioned before.
For such a group decision making to be productive, however, you need a team of well-rounded individuals. It’s no longer enough that your PHP developers have strong core skills and are up-to-date with state-of-the-art technologies.
You want them to know a thing or two about other technologies outside their area of expertise. This way they’ll be able to build on each other’s ideas and come up with innovative solutions.
The good news is that it sounds more difficult to do than it actually is! In fact, you can easily make your developers acquire new skills naturally, while working.
At Unity, for example, we make a point of letting developers of different languages work together. We know it for a fact that putting Pimcore and Mulesoft developers in one room results in out-of-the-box problem solving and boosts the skills of everyone involved in such a project.
So, shuffle your employee deck and assign developers to different teams to make their work more effective. Perceive this as an investment, and you’ll be surprised seeing the benefits your business reaps in the long run, simply by creating environments for your developers to interact.
Make the team understand the business value of the IT project
On top of facilitating knowledge sharing, it’s also important to let your team participate in the business processes. Challenging as it may be for managers, Agile methodology assumes reducing governance over projects to a minimum.
By making your Agile team understand the business value of the project, you’ll empower them to make sound decisions on the course of the project’s development. So, take time to familiarize your team with the business aspects of the project, starting with the personas the project revolves around. Only by having such an in-depth understanding of the project, they’ll be able to independently come up with solutions while staying on track.
The lack of top-down management is a prerequisite to projects’ fitting into their narrow timeframes! Not only do you avoid a prolonged wait for approvals of minor stages of the project, but you also have the luxury of a motivated team that works effectively on the project they own and feel responsible for.
Make your Agile team communicate daily
While it may be challenging to keep a growing IT team on the same page, the right communication is a prerequisite to effective app development. Without it, you run the risk of wasted resources or even the failure of an entire project.
One of the most popular ways to make sure your team sees eye to eye and you’re on top of the work progress are good old daily Scrum meetings. Dailies are so commonplace that it’s very easy to underestimate their value and fail to capitalize on them.
And, the stakes are high. Dailies can either boost your team’s collaboration, by providing an opportuning to bring everybody up to speed or they can kill it by allowing disengagement among the team. It’s all about the extent to which you buy into them and how you run them. If you feel you might need a refresher on how to manage dailies, we recommend the Project Manager’s article on the subject.
Empowered development teams tend to be high performing
It takes time and effort to put together an effective team and there are many ways to achieve it. Since Agile has been around for a while, it’s very easy to underestimate how essential it is in gaining competitive advantage.
For CEOs used to sticking with tradition, adjusting to this “hands-off” approach to leadership is not easy. However, honing the methodology is worth the effort. It’s a method that truly lets you unleash your team’s potential as it boosts commitment and drives collaboration.
Other benefits of Agile development include improvements to the planning phase, better fault detection, enhanced performance flexibility of designs, more iterative design processes and greater code quality.