In today’s fast-moving and competitive business environment, an efficient and responsive IT department is key to your company’s success. Many technologies and strategies exist to improve this vital component of your enterprise. However, the software development team is where you can channel your efforts for maximum gain.
You expect top-notch programming, cooperative effort, and innovative ideas from your developers. Ultimately, they are responsible for completing your projects on time and on budget. Here are a few ideas for making them more productive.
1. Start With the Tools
Giving your developers the right tools increases their flexibility in responding to change and their efficiency in getting their work done. They’ll need two types of tools.
A software development platform cuts development time by automating repetitive tasks and can be used to manage source code, defects, and other functions. One important consideration is how easily this tool fits into your daily operations and works with your existing platforms.
The second type of tool, project management software, takes care of organizing projects, freeing team members to focus on writing code. Look for a platform that is made specifically for software development projects instead of general business. It should be able to automate workflows, support the software development cycle, and track issues, among other features.
2. Encourage Critical Skills
Every business demands critical skills from its developers. High on the list are competencies in coding, databases, source control, cryptography, and cloud platforms. And yet many companies do nothing to develop these skills. They assume that software specialists will magically gain the needed abilities on their own.
The easiest way for you to encourage critical skills is to provide training and continuous education. Offer to pay for learning opportunities at local colleges, business schools, or vendor seminars. If that is beyond your budget, consider bringing in trainers who can conduct classes for your entire team at your location.
A lower-cost option is to establish a mentorship program. Newer members of the team can benefit from the experience of veterans. You can also have team members take on new roles. This will automatically encourage individuals to develop skills outside their current set.
A little money and time spent now can save plenty of both in the future. Don’t limit your upskilling efforts to technical skills. Provide training as well in interpersonal communication, management, and leadership.
3. Define Attainable Standards
Create clear goals and an attainable schedule for each. Your team members can then prioritize each task and revel in the achievement when each one is completed. Break large projects into smaller and more manageable chunks. Your team can then finish something new every week or at predictable intervals. Be sure to track each work product so that progress becomes clearly visible.
Assign each developer clear roles and responsibilities. If you allow each person a say about what they work on, they will gain a sense of ownership. Encourage them to expand their skillset but make sure their expectations are realistic. Then allow them to work without hovering over their every move. If you’re concerned about how they’re doing, communicate with them more often.
You can use several metrics to measure whether your team has met its goals. If you’re into agile planning, look at the lead time, cycle time, and open/close rates. Production analytics measure the application crash rate, the mean time between failures, and the meantime to recover/repair.
Security metrics shouldn’t be left until last or ignored completely, given that software breaches seem to occur every day. You can measure endpoint incidents or how many devices have been infected over time. You will also want to track mean time to repair between a breach and a working remedy.
4. Communicate Frequently
Regular communication among all members of the team, associated co-workers, and you puts everyone on the same page every day. Encourage open and honest interactions tempered by respect and kindness. You’ll come up with solutions to problems more quickly when discussions aren’t marred by anger.
Set up a communication protocol, which may consist of something as simple as project boards or daily standups. You can also set up regular meetings. You can then examine tangible evidence of the project’s momentum and give team members the opportunity to discuss issues and concerns.
Documentation stores project information permanently. Ask your developers to write down any insights, unusual procedures, or new processes. You can then keep this documentation in the cloud where it is accessible to all. Your staff won’t waste time reinventing the wheel when they need a solution. They can conveniently consult the cloud documentation.
5. Optimize the Environment
Although every developer has their own idea of an optimum environment, the fundamental requirement is to minimize distractions. Programming requires periods of intense concentration for maximum productivity. This can only happen when others do not interrupt the developers.
Instead of approaching individuals constantly when you have good ideas, rely on text-based chat. Developers can then turn off notifications when they’re busy and respond only when they have time. Use face-to-face meetings only for time-critical tasks.
When possible, allow your developers flexibility regarding when they come in or leave. If they’re more productive working from home, help them set up a home office where they can spend a few days a week. To help minimize distractions even further, have them use online tools to track the time they spend on websites or mobile apps.
When in Doubt, Get Outside Help
If your team is making little progress or lacks the skills to create a solution for a particularly thorny problem, it’s time to get outside help. A consulting software development company can provide the expertise you need and look at your development with fresh eyes. Working with your team, they can teach new techniques that increase efficiency and boost productivity.
Your team may prove to be the most challenging part of your software development process. Devoting time and energy to making them more productive can increase your company’s efficiency and profitability.