Investing in technology is valuable for your business, which is why you should have a skilled development team running your projects. What attributes do successful development teams have?
Attribute #1: They automate things
Automating the more tedious and time-consuming parts of the job frees up a developer’s time that would be better spent on more creative tasks. Not only that, but automation ensures you can easily repeat a particular process with consistent quality for every release cycle. For example, if your company has regularly scheduled patches, it can benefit from scripts that automate the easy-to-miss parts.
Setting automatic processes also means leveraging integration to run scripts so that you can offload some of the labor involved in code review.
Attribute #2: They document everything meticulously
Think of documenting guidelines and processes as a way to automate team behavior. Successful teams can find what they need without waiting for another team member in another time zone to answer a question, saving time for both people involved and for future developers who have the same question.
As you build your software development team, consider that if developers ask the same question, that process is likely something you should document or re-invent.
Attribute #3: They use tools to collaborate
Allowing your team the space for questions, comments, and suggestions at each point of the cycle fosters collaboration while ensuring everyone is up-to-date on a project’s progress. Tools like milestones, labels, and personal assignments ensure that each employee knows when you expect them to do something; having meticulous documentation helps achieve this system.
If your development team works remotely, it’s imperative to have collaboration tools available. Your dev can’t walk over to a co-worker’s desk and get an instant response to their question, so you must facilitate communication in other ways.
Attribute #4: They use version control
Most of the industry already widely accepts version control for source code as a given, but it’s useful in other ways too.
Consider documentation, for instance. If you use a wiki, there is no merge request; you either commit the change right away or cancel. Wikis tend to make developers feel like only senior members should edit the wiki, discouraging collaboration on documentation. By using source control, junior developers will feel less hesitant to point out little errors or make suggestions for future edits.
Taking the time to write a merge request that outlines why a person proposes a change makes submitting the request less intimidating. The same principle applies to tests, infrastructure code, and other areas.
Attribute #5: They encourage everyone’s contributions
Opening up your development platform allows team members to contribute and learn from others. This strategy is more than helping junior developers learn from senior members; a new perspective from fresh eyes can sometimes spark an idea that isn’t apparent when you’ve stared at the same code for the last week. Another member might read your code and ask a question that starts a productive conversation.
Working together makes code better, mainly when everyone uses a shared library. If one person fixes a bug or otherwise increases that application’s functionality, that one person’s contribution affects everyone using the platform.
Attribute #6: They collaborate on code review
It’s hard not to feel judged when someone reviews your work, even if you know you’re at the top of your game. When code review becomes about “change this because it’s wrong,” it’s demoralizing.
A more productive way to approach code review would be to rephrase the feedback into a question, which still encourages the recipient to think critically without feeling attacked.
If everyone can review each other’s code or request a review, then reviews become about improving the project and not about judging work — which is how it should be. Encouraged developers tend to trend towards self-improvement and seek to increase their skill set, such as Agile coaching certification.
Attribute #7: They’re free to be creative
Developers solve problems. If a customer wants a feature, it helps them find out what problem they want to be solved rather than presenting a trendy spec that doesn’t quite touch on the issue. Allowing developers to criticize a proposal and be free in their specs results in better code.
No matter what type of projects your team develops, it is crucial to ensure its members are capable experts.