NeuEon Insights / Leadership & Team Management

Keeping Your Development Teams on Track for Success

Even the best and largest organizations can suddenly find their software development teams in trouble when it comes to quality issues, missed milestones, and development estimates. And unfortunately, these are just a few of the pitfalls that development teams can experience.

Having worked with countless tech teams, I’ve found that problems generally occur in areas related to people, process and platforms. (Often, it’s a mix of issues among all three.) In this post, I’ll cover some of the people-related issues that development teams may face and identify ways to bolster a team’s chances of success.

Making The Right Hires & Addressing Skill Gaps

When adding to a team, it’s often difficult to capture all of the essential skills needed for a project—especially when some of those skills can be non-technical, like leadership, autonomy, or cross-functional communication. Sometimes the hiring manager (or even recruiter) has a hard time isolating key attributes that make someone an ideal hire and perfect match for the job and culture.

When looking at potential people issues, ascertaining whether there is a skills gap (and whether that gap can be met by additional training, for example) is critical to ensuring that a team is completely qualified for the job and running on all cylinders. Having the right people on the team—with the right skill sets—is an important step in achieving success.

Open Communication

Some organizations claim they support open communication, but it’s really a top-down approach. If an organization doesn’t support an environment of openness and transparency, development teams may find themselves operating under a different set of assumptions than the management team, with the goals of each completely misaligned.

Ensure your management team is providing very clear goals and that they have been educated about what is realistic and feasible. Likewise, keep your development team in agreement on objectives, priorities and needs by providing realistic estimates based on clear assumptions. Complete transparency up and down the organization and throughout the development process is absolutely critical to a product’s success. Providing a forum for both management and the development team to openly communicate without fear of retribution can help you avoid greater challenges down the road.

Honesty Is The Best Policy

Some organizations have figured out how to effectively reward honesty, which keeps everyone happy and most product development teams on track. However, some management teams may minimize efforts required due to a lack of understanding of the complexity of a product’s development. This may result in conveying unrealistic goals based on time and resources.

In these scenarios, development teams can be put under considerable pressure to deliver unattainable results and may be forced to sacrifice quality, under-commit, or miss deadlines in response. The most effective teams and leaders are honest about the scope of specific elements of a product’s development project and what it will actually take to deliver a high-quality solution.

Every software development team has its challenges, but top organizations have strategies to address these obstacles so that they don’t turn into a cycle of failure. By dissecting common problems and addressing them early on, development teams can be set up to succeed, again and again. Solving the issues once and embedding them into your culture will help keep your development teams on track for success.

This post originally appeared in the September 13, 2016 issue of VentureFizz.