When we work with software development teams we cannot deny that we care about how to be more productive every day. Here are some pointers that will help you with that.
Achieving the maximum productivity of development teams is one of the main goals in any software project, given the benefits it brings to not only the team members but also to the development company itself, project managers, and clients.
Nevertheless, for this to happen, it is important to establish a framework that follows certain guidelines.
In the following, we will explain the ones that, from our point of view and experience in a wide variety of projects, we consider the most relevant.
1. Clear objectives
There are different types of objectives throughout a project. On the one hand, there are the inherent objectives of the project, that is, those that clearly establish what is to be done, what problems need to be solved, milestones, deadlines, etc. Without all these points being clear, it would be very difficult to establish a work plan according to the needs of the project.
On the other hand, there are the objectives of each team member, where it is necessary to define and communicate what is expected of each of them, the challenges to be solved, the priorities, the knowledge to be acquired or improved, etc. In order for this to have the expected effect, it is essential to define these goals and communicate them from the beginning of the project.
2. Defined roles
The maximum productivity of a software development team is achieved when each member has a specific role and responsibility; therefore, it is possible to focus on the activities assigned to that role within the project. This is enhanced if the person has the required skills for the position to be filled and no extra time is required in the transfer of knowledge and basic training.
3. Organization and work methodology
In a software development team, it is essential to have a work methodology that fits and adapts to the project.
Depending on the type and stages of the project, there are methodologies that are better suited than others. For example, if the project is in a UAT stage (performing corrective maintenance of the application), it is best to use Kanban as it enables you to deal with problems that arise according to their priority and the capacity of the team without the need to plan ahead or wait for the next iteration for its resolution, which is a situation that could happen using Scrum or RUP. Thanks to this, we generate deliverables more quickly.
Another alternative is the adoption of a combination of two methodologies, for example, in closed scope projects where there are production deadlines to meet and there is a defined scope of requirements.
Considering this situation, a possible methodology to use would be RUP; however, we would not have the same visibility of the project status, the permanent commitment of the team, the immediate management of impediments, and the process improvement meetings that Scrum offers. In view of the above, a correct decision would be to use mixed methodologies: RUP for high-level management and Scrum for task management of each Sprint.
Any project without defined metrics is doomed to failure. It is almost like following a road blindfolded.
Metrics are the most effective way to track team performance and project productivity levels by permitting the assessment of the situation and taking actions to improve the processes.
The choice of which metrics to use will depend mainly on the methodology employed, as well as the context and type of project. Here are some of the most recommended metrics:
- Effort in solving a bug
- Difference between worked hours and estimated hours
- Percentage of project progress
- Velocity (Scrum)
- Lead Time (Kanban)
Do not miss this: We are what we measure: metrics and software development
The company Adecco highlights in one of its articles that “when you are successfully motivating employees, success is inevitable”. This is one of the factors with the greatest impact on the productivity of a software development team. These are some tips for keeping a team motivated:
- Establishing and evaluating objectives: We not only have to communicate the objectives but evaluate them periodically so that the evaluation corrects the improvement that those observations detected.
- Correlating human talent with work: Knowing people’s strengths, abilities, and preferences is essential in order to know what motivates them and assign them positions in which they feel comfortable.
- Opportunely recognizing: The recognition of a job well done is the best incentive for good performance.
It seeks to celebrate the effort of someone, which goes beyond what he or she is obligated to do. True recognition has to be personal and opportune and be motivated by the team leader.
- Offering the best working conditions: Generate a pleasant organizational climate, as well as establish corporate policies that promote teamwork and healthy coexistence, etc.
- Educating and training: Boost personal and professional development and increase self-esteem.
To Sum Up
Carrying out the recommendations given in order to make a software development team more productive is not a trivial task, and it takes time. Not all organizations can implement them from day to day; however, if we are clear about the current problems and establish a productivity goal agreed upon within the team, with regularity, commitment, and, above all, a correct communication between everyone, we will witness how productivity gradually improves.
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