The fact that you’re reading this article already shows you’re savvy enough to see that software development has been a driving force in the tech industry and will increasingly be so for the years to come. This makes building a software development team a much more critical process, as the stakes are only getting higher to succeed in the ever more competitive tech enterprise landscape.
Follow these tips to help ease your burden of assembling a group of highly-skilled and creative software developers.
The Hiring Process
Picking the right people is the first and arguably the most important step if you want to build a dedicated team of software developers.
If you put a person into your team who never gets along with the rest or has a perspective that is in total contrast with your business’ vision, you might end up wasting precious time and resources in trying to fix a problem based on an unchangeable aspect of that person.
The end result will then be seeing that person leave in the future anyway, with your current goals not getting anywhere close to being achieved.
Now the question is “who are the right people?”
With the situation given earlier about a person getting along with the team, the logical answer might point to hiring “team players”. People who all share the same viewpoints, methodologies, creative vision, and technical proficiency will churn out good software in a timely and efficient manner.
That thinking for your hiring process is all well and good… if you want to play it safe. You can run a decent business with that philosophy and keep the wheels turning, but you can’t expect to break out from the mold when everybody in the team has a singular mindset.
- The Outliers
If you are willing to take the risk and break new ground, you will want to look for the outliers during your hiring process. These are the people who can come up with different ideas and all sorts of unconventional ways to turn those ideas into reality. These are the people who are not afraid to question the current processes and solutions that are being offered. It’s not uncommon for these people to be specialists, focusing their efforts into one area to become exceptional at it.
When you have these people on board, you can look forward to passionate debates that challenge each member of the team’s way of thinking. As a result, the clash of creative energies will spark the fire that ignites innovation.
You just have to be more careful with who you choose, as you still need to consider the tough realities of meeting deadlines and adhering to your business’ overall direction.
- The Veterans
Balance these outliers with veterans who have years of experience not just in one field but in multiple areas. They know when to rein in teammates who might be getting out of hand, recommend reliable systems and anticipate potential hitches in both the processes and in the coding. You’re most likely to find such people to be generalists, as they can create a solid foundation for the code base.
They can do all that while being flexible enough to adapt to the changes the younger minds are proposing.
- The Excellent Few
Because you will be mostly focusing on hiring the best and the brightest, it’s natural that you won’t be forming a huge team, and that’s for the better. Having a solid core of creative geniuses and experienced hands should be enough to produce great software. If you either can’t afford local talent or can’t find the right people to complete the team, consider offshore software developers, as the growing global interest in the profession has made it so quality talent can be found nearly everywhere.
The small number will make communication throughout the team much easier, which is essential to an agile software development team. It will also instill a more personal investment in the projects for each one, driving the entire team to do their best work as a point of pride.
Managing the Team
Putting together your team is one thing, but having them run like a well-oiled machine is another.
Because of the powerful creative forces and the egos that drive your team, you are going to have to step in at times to settle arguments that lead to a productive end. Be fair and make sure every person who wants to make a point be allowed to let his/her voice be heard, and that each of their opinions are duly acknowledged.
However, you have to remember that making final decisions that will impact your business won’t always align with the popular choice. Who brings forth the case that is best for business should be favored, not the number of people arguing for one point.
Naturally, agreeing to the perspective of any of your software development team requires a great deal of trust on your part. It’s important that you show you have full confidence in their abilities and in their judgment, as this allows them to explore the boundaries of their capabilities leading to a better product. In the end, they are the ones working on the code so they should know better than you.
Just make sure that they are held accountable for their decisions to keep them from doing things with reckless abandon.
Software development can be a brutal profession with looming deadlines, plenty of bugs cropping up, user input either not being available or not being helpful, and other external factors. Your team can be swamped by work, tilting the ever important balance of career and life out of equilibrium.
Give them ample break time to relieve their stress. You can still have them be productive in the office without forcing them to always stick to the project by having activities that sharpen their other skills. Although it is fine to have performance metrics in place to make sure every one’s on track and contributing proportionally, keep it to a minimum so that your team doesn’t waste time filling out forms when they can be actually working.
Building a software development team demands a fine eye for talent that is ready to innovate while understanding the fundamentals. The responsibility of keeping a team on the right path also lies with you treating them with respect for their competencies and for their lives outside the job.