How to Manage a Software Development Team?
Management is a skill that some people are born with, and some people have to learn. The basis for good software development team management is the ability to build an effective software development team, plan and react immediately to emerging difficulties, and openness to changes. Trust and faith in people are also critical features of a good project manager.
As a software development company, we know managing a team is a big challenge. It requires a lot of skills, knowledge, and experience. You can do this task yourself, choose a dedicated software development team, or work with a trusted software development partner. Regardless of your choice, you should know what to pay attention to in the management process.
Let to Know Your Team's Skills
The software development team structure consists of many specialists with different skill sets. To set goals and tasks well, you need to know who has what set of skills, what they like to do, and what tasks are developing for them. Knowing how to manage a software development team is also helpful in learning about the interpersonal skills of individual team members. Sometimes, despite high technical skills, someone can have communication problems, so it makes no sense to give them tasks that require constant contact with other team members.
Of course, sometimes inexperienced software development managers do not bother with these matters and divide the technical team into frontend and backend software developers, but our experience shows that such shortcuts never work.
You do not have to be an expert in the specific skills of your software teams, but you should have the appropriate knowledge to assign tasks and goals rationally.
Goals are the foundation of every project. They show the entire software team the direction it must follow to create a great product. By setting goals correctly, you can gain more control over the software development process and monitor project progress on an ongoing basis. In case of problems, you can react quickly because there is nothing worse than problems that, for various reasons, are not solved right away.
The goals you set for your team must comply with the S.M.A.R.T methodology, meaning they must be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. In our article "10 Crucial KPIs for Software Development," we discussed in detail the types of key performance indicators and explained why they are so important.
Remember that the goals must be both individuals (so that each team member knows exactly what to do), and the goals must also be for the entire development team. It will make everyone focus on working together to achieve the goal together.
In our article "Software Development Team Goals, " you can read more about setting goals."
No matter how great your software development plan is, there's no way you can predict everything. Every project has difficulties and unplanned situations that could not be foreseen at the planning stage.
The most important thing is to react quickly to such unseen events. Flexibility and openness to change are something that distinguishes every good manager. It is crucial to monitor project progress on an ongoing basis to identify the problem at the earliest possible stage. A small problem can be solved relatively quickly without consequences for the entire project. But the consequences can be serious if a problem is identified too late or you wait too long to solve it. Reacting too slowly to changes is also conducive to creating chaos and lower motivation for the development team.
Let the Team Make Decisions
The worst thing a project manager can do is micromanagement. The manager cannot be involved in every, even the smallest, decision. Since you have built a team of many experts, you must trust them. Of course, you can, and even should, monitor work progress on an ongoing basis, but you have to trust people and let them make decisions. Thanks to this, you will save time on unimportant matters, and your team will feel responsible for the project.
Use Project Management Software
Many tools make managing software development teams easier. They are necessary in the case of long-term projects or those involving a huge number of members. Also, when you have a remote software development team, an appropriate project management system will help you stay up to date with the critical aspects of the project.
It is worth knowing that many tools have, among others, specialized modules, thanks to which individual team members can see the progress of their work and the achievement of goals, which translates into greater motivation and work efficiency.
Take care of a High Level of Communication
No one needs to be convinced that communication plays a crucial role in every project, regardless of the type of project and industry. Effective communication affects the atmosphere in the software development team, interpersonal relations, and employees' efficiency, making them much more motivated to act. Therefore, ensure that your team has one communication platform that everyone can use.
In many software development projects, communication is spread across several platforms, which unfortunately does not positively impact the project. Some conversations occur via chat, some via e-mail, and some through direct discussions. Of course, you can't prevent people from communicating in different ways. Still, it is necessary to introduce the principle that all findings or insights about the project must be in one tool/platform so everyone can access it. Thanks to this, we will avoid duplication of the same tasks. Besides, various ideas and observations may result in developing an innovative solution that will delight the client.
In addition, remember that even the most precise e-mails and guidelines will not replace a face-to-face meeting. Therefore, arrange regular meetings with the team during which you will discuss the project's progress and emerging problems and look for solutions together.
Appreciate Hard Work and Commitment
Creating a great digital product is hard work that requires the entire team's commitment. It is impossible to create a successful product only with great code, and it is impossible to create a successful product only with great UX/UI Design. All elements of the project are crucial, just like every member of the team is crucial.
Therefore, if you notice that someone is trying hard, has exciting ideas, and approaches the project with great commitment, appreciate their work and praise their commitment. It will improve both the employee's motivation and the entire team, who will understand that the manager notices hard work and can appreciate it.
The manager's main task is to ensure the team's smooth operation. That is why the person in charge of the project must be, in the opinion of the software development team, someone you can trust and turn to in case of problems. However, the so-called open-door policy must be communicated to the entire team, and it cannot be information people pass on to each other unofficially.
Openness must also be manifested in the way decisions are made. A manager who announces a decision to the team based on "because I want it" will never gain respect and recognition. Every critical decision should be explained to the team, especially if it is a decision that the software development team may not approve. Explaining why such a decision was made results in a greater understanding of the situation by the team and the fact that they will not feel treated like objects.
The project manager should also strive for consistency in the performance of his tasks. If he undertakes to do a given action within a specific time, he must make every effort to make it happen. This approach helps to build trust between the software development team and the project manager.
Everyone working on the project must see that the project manager has a positive attitude toward implementing tasks. The whole team gets that feeling. If the project manager is demotivated, sees only obstacles, and does not believe in the project's success, then this approach will be passed on to the team. The commitment and motivation will drop, and there is no chance of success.
Proper software development team management is a crucial issue that should never be marginalized. A good project manager can create a great product with an average team, and a bad manager will not succeed even with the best team in the world.
Management is a challenging task because you have to be able to reconcile many interests. You must combine many roles effectively, balance supervising and allowing decision-making, and constantly be up to date with the work progress.
Our many years of experience creating successful projects show that project managers who understand the software development life cycle can be more helpful to the software team. However, we must remember that interpersonal skills are critical, so the best solution is for a project manager with technical knowledge and the ability to manage a team wisely.
If you want to talk about the difficulties associated with your project, make an appointment for a free consultation with our specialists, who have been creating great products for many years and will undoubtedly be able to help you.