Team Management Tips for Software Development
Software development teams require a specialized approach to management. There might be unique challenges for you as a software development team manager. You might have come from the development team and need to learn a new skill set for your management position, or you might have a management background but less experienced with the technical aspects of software development. Here are some tips that will allow you to manage your team effectively.
Get to know your team and how each individual works best. Make sure to listen. You should expect conflict among team members, but you can view this as a healthy thing as long as it is handled in a proactive and positive way. Reduce bottlenecks by understanding team members’ strengths, and allow them to capitalize on those strengths.
Whether working remotely or in an office, make sure that task completion is easy to track—use tracking software such as Asana or Trello to allow team members to see more efficiently what needs to be done, what is in progress, or what is completed.
Software development teams typically have high turnover. You can reduce the stress and frustration of the onboarding process by developing and maintaining comprehensive and clear technical documentation. Have a project management system in place. This will allow new team members to jump in with greater satisfaction, and in turn, greater productivity.
Select and Empower
Good developers enjoy their work, so find ways during the hiring process to bring in people who are self-motivated and will love the job. Once the right people are hired, empower them to make creative decisions. Avoid micromanaging, and ask for input from your team when there are problems to be solved. Look for ways your team members can develop themselves professionally. This will not only give them more ability to work well, but can increase their satisfaction with their jobs and possibly give them reasons to stay longer in their positions.
If you have experience in software development, you will likely be able to understand most of the intricacies of the work. However, if you do not have a development background, you will need to either learn enough about the process to manage your team’s processes effectively or work with a technical co-founder who can.
Do not expect your team to multitask. Toggling back and forth between projects is a notorious waste of energy and resources. If possible, decide together with your management, with input from your team members, which projects need priority, and allow your team to focus on one project at a time. Approach the workload with the longterm health and work-life balance of your team in mind. Keep sprints occasional and reasonable. Even developers who are passionate about their work can experience burnout if the pace of work is too intense for too long.
Right-size the team
Find the right balance between having enough hands and avoiding communication complications. Do not expect faster work from adding more people to a project. If the project is running behind, resist the temptation to assign more people. It may seem logical, but typically the result of having too many people working on one thing results in communication breakdown and other issues. The best thing to do is to work out a strategy with the already-existing team. They are already familiar with what has and has not worked.
Share Working Space
When different teams work side by side, innovation is much more likely. Individuals communicate with each other and learn about different problem-solving approaches more easily when physical proximity allows for casual conversations in addition to formal meetings. In-office work is not always possible, so consider different ways to increase interactions between teams when most, if not all, of your teams, work remotely.
When shared workspace is not an option, consider more planned team-building activities to allow teams to get to know each other outside of focused work projects.
Break it Down
Learn how to divide projects into manageable chunks. It is easy to get overwhelmed when a project is large. Create small milestones and celebrate victories along the way. Additionally, try to find ways to deliver the product to the customer in increments as well. This allows everyone to assess how well it is meeting or exceeding expectations.
Understanding the requirements of the project is, of course, important, but if the requirements are too specific, the development process can get bogged down—even to the point that the project is no longer relevant by the time it’s completed. Work to find the right balance.