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software team management tactics and tips

CIOs playbook: Start managing software development teams like a pro

When it comes to managing software development teams, there are many things that can go wrong. Simple things such as communication and scheduling, to big things like technical debts, process architecture can have costly consequences if not handled carefully. In fact, worse consequences can happen if the issues are left ignored or unchecked, leading to countless delays and exhausted developers.

So, what can PMs and CIOs do? When managing software development teams, leaders are the ones who must understand and become intimately familiar with metrics about team performance and other development practices to quickly identify troubles and address them appropriately.

To help them understand common management challenges and get updated about the key metrics to monitor their team effectively, CMC Global will give our overview of this problem. Check out our CIO’s playbook to start managing software development teams like a pro.

10 effective tactics for managing software development teams

The problems of managing software development teams are not limited to software design or development only. It roots from everyday routines with added up and small problems that can bolster a team’s chance of continued success.  

You can consider these small tips to manage software development teams easily.

1. Enhance effective communication 

Enhance effective communication for better software team development

Poor communication can imperil a team on so many levels that it can easily wreck the whole project if left unchecked. This situation can happen to many businesses and their offshore development teams. For example, a project manager from the company may forget to check with their offshore team regularly, making the team more prone to mistakes and disengagement. There are chances that he also forgets to adequately connect with the business units whose software is built for, leaving important stakeholders out of the process and the result may or may not fit into their process and meet their specific needs. 

For this, all PMs should make strong and consistent efforts to keep their in-house and outsourcing team connected, as well as maintaining a thorough and steady dialogue with all units inside the business itself. Neglecting any personnel means putting up barriers for your team’s collaboration and more importantly, success.

2. Keep project schedules consistent

Scheduling is easy when you can predict things exactly. However, software development projects are the kinds of dynamic affairs that can fluctuate easily due to new requirements from the organizations, changes in resources or many other issues. Even with a set timeframe, things can go into disarray quickly.

Therefore, you should make sure you have everything mapped out properly, that every small step is planned in a way to make room for unexpected changes or delays. An ambitious plan with dedicated developers is tempting, yet it can be a hassle for any individual when they have to handle multiple projects at the same time to adapt to new adjustments. And the whole messed-up thing can easily lead to inefficiency, poor quality and burnout.

3. Manage time wisely

 Managing time wisely plays a vital role in any project. With such a dynamic working environment, PMs and developers can feel like they need extra hours a day. So, avoid time-wasting activities such as social distractions, excessive meetings, and etc to keep your team’s priorities in check with lists of things to be finished and definitive schedules.

4. Evaluate priorities carefully. 

The success of a project lies in the manager’s capability of stakeholder and business needs understanding. Having this knowledge, they can pass down tasks to developers with the right resources, especially in terms of time and energy. On the contrary, poor knowledge of a project’s ever-changing priority can be the culprit behind bad scheduling, unmet requirements and frustrated clients.

So, the first thing to do is to have an overview picture of what to do and what are the priorities with business leaders, stakeholders and development team members.

5. No country for rigid processes

Rigid process is a challenge for managing software development teams

A successful software project is created based on an orderly execution of activities with complex scenarios. But even when you follow the structure correctly, there are still rooms for problems to emerge. It would be a waste of time and effort if you create a new process every time a problem emerges. 

So, what to do? Finding out about the problem’s root should be the first thing to be done, not a temporary solution. At the end of the day, without clear and sufficient project requirements, new processes can do nothing to help a faltering development team’s hit goals

6. Hire the most suitable person, not the best ones

Managing software teams shouldn’t be a supervision thing of digging into the minutiae of every developer’s daily work. Therefore, recruitment is something you have to do right at first, because trust me, no PMs or CIOs like wandering around 8 hours a day to make sure that his team is dedicated to producing. .

The right people can vary from organization to organization. But in terms of software development teams, CMC Global is talking about those who love to code and do so for their own personal projects, even just for fun.

You can find a famous case study of this in Google’s most famous management philosophy called “20 percent time.” In fact, Google allows its employees to spend 20% of their working time on their own projects and ideas. Despite criticism, the policy is believed to be in full swing at Google now.

7. Know Your Limits

Understanding your personal limit is the key to good plans in every field, not restricted to managing software development teams only. This means you should always have a good perspective when approaching hard issues to be able to dismantle it into smaller tasks instead of tackling it in one go. 

8. Watch for silos of knowledge. 

It is nice to have experts with niche and complex capabilities. However, solely relying on these specialists and their expertise can harm your team and if those experts move to another team or worse, leave the company. On the contrary, having too many experts can also become a threat to the working process, too since their capabilities are not in tune with the work being done.

What to do? Software development project managers should limit the reliance on specialists and fill the gap of your team by cross-training and knowledge-sharing initiatives. Silo information elimination helps young and inexperienced developers of your team learn and sharpen their skills. Moreover, realizing yourself on a large number of specialists or silos is the awakening answer to see if your project is overly ambitious or complex. 

9. Avoid burnout

avoid burnout in your teams to manage better

A software development project is a well-paced marathon as it can run for years. Therefore, forcing your team to constantly produce will do no good but quickly lead to burnout. An exhausted and forced team can inevitably cause development problems, bugs in the code ignored, or making the development process lengthier, more expensive. 

Managing your software development teams means maintaining a healthy work-life balance for your team. This doesn’t mean extra push must be banned, but calls for a marathon strategy. Everyone knows that at the last rounds of a marathon, athletes will speed up (or people call it a sprint) in order to win. Most software developing teams can handle sprints occasionally, not throughout the entire process of the development life cycle.

What a PM can do is to ensure that teams are clearly defined and all passed down work focuses on the high priority tasks.

10. Establish high standards from scratch 

We talk about non-pace forcing and strategy to win your marathon above, now let’s talk about the quality. It is of great importance to establish a high standard that you expect to get from your team right at the beginning so that people know what they should do.

One of the best ways to motivate employees and increase productivity is to set up positive reinforcement right at the start of the projects, according to an article about the Power of Positive Reinforcement at Work from Entrepreneur. It can be certain code quality during early stages and praising the employee for completing it or any other reinforcement you can think of. These small tactics will encourage your team to strive more for the set level throughout the rest of the software development life cycle.

Practical metrics for successful software development teams management

important tactics for PMs to manage teams

Now that you know about the major problems that can happen, let’s talk about metrics to measure how you asset the situation and the effectiveness of your solution.

Today, data is king and any information can act as a measurement to evaluate a project’s status and success. However, some important metrics can be ignored or poorly ultierlized. Therefore first, you need a big picture of where you at, what your objectives and goals are to follow, which means a well-planned and practical strategy. This strategy must have a number of software development metrics and KPIs to follow, and these can be:

Velocity

Velocity, often used in agile software development, assets the amount of work done. This metric tracks how much value a single team can provide during a given period of time.

PMs use this metric to estimate costs, create accurate delivery strategies and schedule projects appropriately. If the team velocity is low or unstable, it means that there are issues to be addressed, such as poor communication of user requirements.

Throughput

This is the metric to measure the team’s productivity using units of work done. PMs can count on this as a bigger picture to see how much work a team can handle averagely and based on that, narrow down the scope of the examination.

For example, if a PM wants to optimize his/ her team’s performance during a specific sprint, the throughput metrics can track down the performance-related tickets or the tasks to be completed within that sprint’s timeframe. It must be checked all the time like other metrics because low or unsteady throughput may indicate bad issues such as unmanageable workloads or inefficient development processes.

Bug rate

The number of software bugs is an important metric to determine the quality of the producing team. By keeping tracks of software defects sprouting from new implementations of features or functions from scratch and regularly, PMs can take proactive steps to enhance the code quality and decrease the bug rates. 

The number of bugs can be a consequence of unmanageable workload too, when a single team is forced to handle a massive volume of ticket submissions. To meet the deadline, they must rush work, leading to technical debts or error-ridden code.

Cycle time

Cycle time is the metric used to measure the amount of time a team spends on completing an individual task or ticket. By understanding how long a certain task can take, PMs can build a practical plan with a good prediction of timeframe and accurate solutions if issues emerge.

Rework rate 

The rework rate counts the amount of work that is required to be corrected after tested or even leaching time. A developer whose work creates a large volume of code to be reworked or corrected is the one who doesn’t understand the requirement of the clients thoroughly or face difficulties in a particular process, or unclear goals. In general, a high rework rate means problems in team communication and processes.