In many cases, managing software development teams is similar to other different types of
team management. You do not need to have programming skills to understand how your team
members get tasks completed. Also, you may not comprehend various technical aspects of
software architecture, but you can know the typical roadblocks, preferred tools, or the most
efficient practices. That allows creating an appropriate working environment and doing your
best to guide a technical team without micromanaging.
In addition, each smart manager understands that his software team has its own unique requirements and challenges. When you are managing a team of software developers for the first time, you should look for some ways to enhance your current management skills. Below, you will find the best software development management practices and tips to lead your team effectively.
Hire the right people
Like all great managers, you need to have the right people in your development team. However, finding self-driven software developers may require some time and establishing an efficient recruiting approach. Below, you will find three practices to make the recruiting process easier:
- Find employees who love their work. You should look for employees who always invest in their professional self-development. After all, passion is a critical factor to consider when creating a software development team.
- Look for well-rounded people. To understand better how your candidates perform and analyze their different skill sets, you have to conduct a real-world test. Also, you should make it realistic enough for your company, which allows showcasing the ability, speed, and knowledge of your candidates. To review the particular software development process, you can apply specific project management software tools like the Work Diary.
- Keep the options open. You should not shut candidates out at first glance. Of course, you must be clear in your requirements but curious about a relevant search. Thus, you need to ask questions that enable you to fully examine all candidates you speak with.
Choose the right tools
Managing a software development team requires appropriate communication. To enhance this
aspect, you should ask team members to communicate in different ways. A great option is
trying visuals and analogies for explaining complicated ideas. But, often, you need specific
project management software to complete the job. For instance, you can apply Slack for
day-to-day project communications within your development team. Besides, you can try project
management solutions like Trello in terms of project-based communications.
What you require, along with what ultimately works, depends on the existing dynamics of your software development team and the existing office politics. However, if you can provide your project management activities with efficient tools for communication and collaboration, your development team will build something great.
Clearly define and map out expectations
Managing a software development team successfully means you can identify and map out
requirements. That allows not only leading a development team but also delivering the best
possible software. The ability to define the scope of necessary development work, along with
expected deliverables, clearly and store them in a specific centralized location provided by
your project management software enables developers to know what they should work on.
Thus, to manage a software development process appropriately, you need to capture the requirements and commit to them in a writing form. That also helps prevent from scope creep or adding to the workload different last-minute feature requests.
Allocate developers to tasks accordingly
The to-do list created by your dedicated development team may become incredibly lengthy.
Therefore, managing a software development process requires prioritizing workloads. It may
be quite challenging after finding defects since all bugs need urgent attention. Besides,
your development team needs to write new code.
The appropriate team management in software development involves assigning tasks to all team members thanks to the project management tools. That allows understanding which tasks are being performed or will be worked on next and enabling to pivot or reassign tasks if needed or when various urgent requests arise.
Stay on top of deadlines
Missing deadlines can significantly affect software development team management. That also
puts the entire software development team at risk. Besides, while the particular deadlines
can be estimated, it is critical to monitor these dates to ensure success. If your software developers
are mid-sprint and know the scope of work they will not finish by the established deadline, you
should communicate that to all major stakeholders.
To manage a software development process efficiently, you should implement project management solutions. They allow keeping track of numerous deadlines at once and understanding how relevant due dates rank against each other.
Distribute and share files in one place
Data sharing, cross-collaboration, and the ability to quickly and efficiently communicate
with your software development team are among the necessary soft skills for being the top
project manager. Instead of sending numerous emails or communicating critical information
via chat tools, you should use project management solutions that allow distributing data
In addition, to promote effective team management in software development, you need to distill emails you get from upper managers or different non-technical employees. That allows pulling out the information your software development team cares about. Ultimately, the ability to make such information more digestible provides your team members with the opportunity to focus on more critical tasks or free the team’s time.
Monitor real-time updates
Project management software solutions traditionally offer real-time reporting capabilities such as time-tracking or task completion reports. They allow representing your software development team’s output visually. Thanks to detailed analytics and insights regarding the projects and tasks your team members perform, you can manage a software development process more efficiently. As a manager, you will be better informed to define gaps in resourcing, resolve conflicting issues, or establish the appropriate due dates.
Even if you have a technology background, it is much better to ask instead of pretending you
know the right answer. If you choose the second option, you will face great challenges now
or later. However, if you address it when it arises, you will be able to solve the project
management issue with the required knowledge.
After all, software development team management is rarely considered a straightforward process. Although some individuals are natural leaders, it does not mean the relevant soft skills cannot be learned. Despite your knowledge or expertise, you can manage a software development project successfully, and asking questions may help.
How to manage a team of remote developers
In recent years, the tech industry has established numerous progressive work-from-home practices. Thus, tech professionals regard remote work as an incredibly critical advantage, which means it is necessary to know how to manage a software development team remotely. Here we describe five things you can implement for managing and leading your development teams to perform successfully in the remote environment.
1. Hire team members you can trust
Each team member does not want to be micromanaged. Therefore, it is essential to hire a
software development team that you will trust from the beginning. It is especially critical
if they work remotely, and you have no appropriate opportunity to keep an eye on their tasks
But it does not mean that your development team requires no oversight. Instead, you should train all team members and provide them with the tools and information necessary for getting their job done. You must believe in every team member and stay approachable, which allows them to share their concerns and create a working relationship depending on trust and transparency.
You will be likely to trust your software development team after setting up processes, along with clear project guidelines and business requirements, at the start of each project. That makes your development team know what to expect. Such a process-oriented approach with the involved documentation creates the basis of a great team. Ultimately, you must be sure your team understands relevant business strategies and how all projects align with them. That allows fostering accountability and clarity throughout the entire process.
2. Benefit from overlapping time zone hours
Performing across various time zones may affect effective communication within your development team. In this case, you should plan recurring team meetings or urgent meetings considering the overlapping time-zone hours. That will provide the highest rate of attendance. After all, providing a well-organized schedule will positively impact the efficiency of your team members. That will also reduce the need to contact them outside of the regular working time.
3. Leverage regular one-on-one and team meetings
Conducting regular one-on-ones and team meetings is the easiest approach to ensuring your software development team has everything it needs from you and can ask different clarifying questions. Besides, it is critical to maintain an appropriate balance between scheduling productive meetings and making sure your development team has enough time to complete its software development tasks at hand. Thus, efficient product managers should find a cadence that suits best for them and their software development teams.
4. Implement collaboration tools
Communication and collaboration serve as the core of software development. At the same time, they are also considered a big struggle for managing software development teams that are not co-located. But you can apply a specific project management tool to enhance remote team collaboration. Thus, you should start by identifying the unique needs of your development team to understand which project management software will work best for you.
5. Provide and receive regular feedback
At the end of the software development life cycle, you need to provide your front-end
developers, along with other members of the development team, with immediate feedback. That
helps them understand better what went well and what they should improve in the next cycles.
Since software development has an iterative nature, you should always incorporate and
discuss feedback as an element of constant improvements.
Besides, you need to spend some time collecting feedback from your software development team and maintaining a strong partnership for continuous success.
What makes managing a software development team difficult?
Managing a software development team can be incredibly challenging. Below you can find the main aspects of project management that can make your job difficult.
Handling diverse skills
Each technical project requires a relevant team with different skill sets. Thus, handling diverse skills is considered a unique challenge that needs extensive research and analysis of the work challenges of all project roles. Of course, professional managers cannot have expertise in all numerous areas. But studying all roles is crucial for creating a strong team that will operate successfully.
Hacking quick turnover
The modern competitive market results in a significantly quick turnover. For example, software engineers always stay with an organization for almost 2 years. Thus, to handle such a quick turnover, you need multiple hacks in terms of hiring and onboarding, leading a software development team, and dealing with the constantly changing scope of work.
Simplifying ambiguous requirements
Compared to more straightforward roles, mobile app developers work on transforming business requirements into relevant practical apps. The majority of roadmaps and specifications can be interpreted. Thus, various engineers can easily create various versions of the product that have different flexibility, scalability, or workflows. After all, the disability to manage that upfront can influence the milestones and result in consecutive iterations.
Matching the dynamic nature of the software industry
Building a software development team involves roles with various levels of skills and expertise. Since the software industry has a dynamic nature, providing the right employees with the right assignments may become a great challenge. For instance, junior developers can often conduct repetitive and easy tasks. Therefore, the failure to design the appropriate architecture from the first day leads to a technical debt that will affect the constant project development process.
The make-up of a development team will depend on the project, but there is one common thing all your software development teams will have. It is your role as a project manager. Therefore, you should go beyond creating significant products to find and manage a strong team of software developers and their expectations through the entire development process.