You wouldn’t be alone in needing a bit of guidance when it comes to the organization of your software development team. It is essential to get this right so that productivity and efficiency can flow through your organization. Here are some techniques that have proven to be beneficial.
- Clearly See the Setup of Your Team
A larger team doesn’t imply more productivity. In some cases, large teams are not as efficient as smaller ones because of the breakdown in communication or increased communication and additional workloads.
Generally speaking, the perfect sized development team is between 4 to 7 people. IF you are running a larger company, you will probably need more developers, but they can still be broken down into smaller teams, each with a team leader. Multiple smaller teams are easier to manage than one larger one with less direction.
- Select the Type of Team
First, you need to understand if you need a team of generalists, specialists, or a hybrid team. A hybrid team will be a combination of generalists and specialists depending on what your project requires. But what about generalists and specialists?
Developers who are considered to be generalists will have a variety of knowledge and skills. They can use a number of resources and are able to learn new skills relatively quickly. Generalists tend to have excellent communication skills. This variety of skills often refers to full-stack developers as they are able to use their extensive knowledge to complete different tasks.
On the contrary, a specialist will have a certain set of skills that they have gained a high level of expertise. They will have greater attention to detail and are extremely talented at solving complex business issues. You may need to hire various specialists for each part of the development process, for example, a database specialist to manage your database or an Automation QA Engineer to handle automation testing.
Hybrid is usually the best way to go but the ratio will depend on the specifications of your project. Try to aim for 3 specialists to 1 generalist for the right mixture of skills and expertise.
- The Documentation of Your Teams Responsibilities
Even before you start the recruitment process, you should have all of your roles and responsibilities for the team (or teams) documented. To break down your development team, you may have an architect, DevOps engineer, tech leader, etc. Ask yourself, and even your team these questions:
- What roles do your software developers have?
- How do they help the team? What are their goals?
- Are there recourses or support that they are lacking?
- What is stopping their progress?
- What Is Your Management Style?
You can loosely define a management style as either strict or self-organized. Self-organized is only suitable for when your team is well established as new employees will need direction. You will also need to build up trust, which requires time. Even then, a self-organized management style requires input from management or else nobody will know their responsibilities. This is truer for remote workers. But you can delegate some of the control and allow some team members to step up.
The 5 Stages of a Software Development Team
Some organizations have more or less, but generally, the following 5 points make up the stages of a software development team.
Forming: The meet and greet of team members. Direction here is key as some of all of the team members will be new and unaware of an individual or team’s responsibilities.
Storming: People have begun to work together, and strengths and weaknesses are becoming clear. Working styles and habits may lead to some conflict and it is important at this stage that you resolve conflicts as they arise so that they don’t escalate further down the road.
Norming: The team is bonded and settled into a single unit. There is greater respect for individual skills, communication is better and there are fewer conflicts.
Performing: The team is gaining confidence and motivation and you can see this as they start to become more self-organized. You will now be able to start delegating more responsibilities.
Adjourning: If a team is only working together for a specific project, there work together is coming to an end. The objectives have been fulfilled and it’s your responsibility to show gratitude for their efforts.
- Excel at Team Leadership
There is no point in playing the blame game. If there are problems, it’s down to you. To eliminate the risk of issues, it is crucial that you are an excellent communicator. Developers need to be clearly told what their roles are, the deadlines that are in place, and what you expect from them. You must be able to resolve conflicts so that your team can learn to work as one.
How to Resolve Conflicts Within Your Software Development Team
People need to feel heard, so you need to let each person explain their point of view while you actively listen in order to find a compromise. When finding a compromise is not the solution, expert lead leaders employ the 5 Whys technique. Highlight the problem and ask the team Why it occurred. When you have a justified answer, follow up with another Why question. Continue to ask why questions until you are satisfied that together, you have found the root of the issue.
- Why didn’t we release our product on time? – Because there was a bug
- Why was there a bug? – Because we didn’t fully test the software?
- Why wasn’t the software tested? Etc.
Rather than focusing on who didn’t do what, team members focus on what the actual problem is.