The importance of teamwork in software product development cannot be overstated. And, yet — it needs to be overstated because there’s a popular misconception that software product development is an isolated endeavor: the work of one programmer or team cloistered off in a corner.
How is Software Product Development like the Ultimate Team Sport?
It’s actually more like a professional soccer team with different groups of stakeholders.
Note the game stakeholders: players, coaches, trainers, administrators, etc. — each one working toward the common objective of winning.
Note the software product dev stakeholders: With software product development, coders are just one part of the team, rounded out by users, executives, designers, adjacent IT specialists, and other important key players. They all have something important to contribute.
Similarly, failing to bring any of these stakeholders into the software product development process compromises the final result. Take away the coaches — and great soccer players rarely win.
Assembling a Software Product Development Team
The software product development life cycle should always begin with building the necessary team. For many companies, that means enlisting the help of a software product developer to supplement their in-house engineering teams. And, somewhat paradoxically, treating software product development as a team sport also means letting product teams operate as autonomous teams.
To a large extent, these teams should be able to work free of bureaucracy and politics, focusing entirely on the product at hand. To do that, the other stakeholders need to collaborate to ensure teams have the guidance, resources, and time they need to work with a high degree of independence.
Just as important as assembling the constituent parts and letting them operate autonomously is finding the right fit between them. Teams obviously need to have the right combination of skills to turn the software product development process into a functional, finished product. But they also need the right mix of personalities, clear roles for everyone involved, a cohesive leadership structure, and effective communication channels.
The goal is to build a sum that is greater than its parts — an achievable goal as long as companies can get over the notion that software product development is something they can “hand off” to others.
In practice, it’s much better to be involved from beginning to end. That may involve more input and resources, but a strong business case exists for treating software product development like the team sport it is.
GO TEAM — Here’s what your team can do:
Adapt in uncertain times
In the midst of uncertainty — whether that be a global pandemic or an industry-specific disruption — software product development lets companies build the business solutions they need to survive and thrive. But speed is essential.
When companies need a solution sooner rather than later, they should take an all-hands-on-deck approach, dedicating whoever and whatever is necessary to get the software up and running. Then, with enough resources behind the software product development process, a company can keep pace with change instead of falling behind the competition.
Drive meaningful innovation
Custom software can provide a quick fix, but in the best instances, it unleashes a wave of opportunity within an organization by empowering it to accomplish what it couldn’t before.
However, to have the most significant impact, developers should incorporate input from a broad base of stakeholders, including designers, engineers, entrepreneurs, and business builders, among others. Software product development that incorporates many voices and ideas leads to products with a meaningful impact.
Overcome persistent obstacles
No single person or team has all the answers. That helps explain why some problems never go away: They lack outside perspectives. By incorporating diverse skill sets and backgrounds into the software product development life cycle, companies uncover solutions (or innovations) they wouldn’t have otherwise.
Diversity offers a shortcut to business solutions, just as a lack of diversity makes persistent business problems devolve into severe headaches.
Learn to repeat the success
When companies build cohesive software product development teams populated by talented professionals who share a common culture, those teams become powerful units.
According to one study, cultural cohesion is the driving factor in the success of development teams. That may seem obvious, yet few companies prioritize culture fit when building teams. However, when they do, they create fast and flexible teams who know how to work together to clear hurdles and sprint toward solutions. Moreover, these teams know how to repeat their own success.
What’s the makeup of your software product development team? What pieces may be missing, and what effect is that having on development and the strength of the whole organization? These questions are worth asking because the answers show companies how to become the best version of themselves.
The most successful software products lead to game-changing business solutions, and those products always come from diverse, collaborative, cross-functional teams. After all, there is no I in “software product development.”
Image Credit: Annie Spratt; Unsplash; Thank you!