Seventhman Blog

The Science and Art of Building a Great Software Team

"software team"Just like coding, building a great software developer team is also an art and getting the right people on board is still a work-in-progress for many. It’s not so much about the smartest, the most experienced that counts.. but the right people who will fit in skill-wise and personality-wise.  The last thing you want is for your project to fail simply because your team didn’t work well.  The reasons are many and if you will be honest to admit it, not all of us work well with others.  You might be stuck with such a team right now so the next question is, how can you turn things around to help them become more productive?

Are You Ready to Shake Things Up?

There’s a reason that big brands are still sourcing outside help even if they have talents in-house.  Would you agree that diversity is the biggest contributing factor to a project’s success?  Sometimes, you simply need a second opinion (or third, fourth and so on).  If you’re tired of the same old scene where everyone agrees just to get things done, how about encouraging some conflict?  The last thing you want is stagnation.  It will surprise you that when tension runs high, ideas come in an endless supply as everyone continue to raise the bar higher – to come up with something innovative.  You must be lucky if you find a devil’s advocate in your group, of brilliant mind disrupting mediocrity to come up with something amazing.  The problem is, not everyone can identify the outliers from the real artists.

When It Comes to Successful Software Teams, Size Does Matter

And to top it off, I’d say bigger is not always better.  While there are varying opinions on what the ideal team size is, anything that’s not double-digit is great to start with.  Hiring small means easily managing less people and faster communication with key people.  Keeping it small is also great for boosting dedication and morale where each person will take ownership of his/her own code.  When you work with a small team, this will also mean that you can afford to pay senior developers more.  We all know that coming up with better codes and designs are best left to those who can make better decisions.  If you can’t really keep it small, I’d say break large teams into smaller teams with leaders on every hub.

Looking Beyond Agile

There will always be a gap between software developers who are code-oriented and business people who are strategy-oriented.  While agile is great for trying to improve from the mistakes of the past, you have to look beyond the software development stage for you to create something that equates to great user experience.  Agile may help measure your working software, but the idea is not really user-centric.  More meetings don’t really mean productive meetings.  Talking about the requirement everyday just adds more tension between IT and business.  Instead, each one should understand the business side of things and the end users more.  At the end of the day, software is not just a bunch of codes; it must be usable.  In short, development teams are not only about creating codes, but creating experience too.

To build a great software is not like building automobiles.  There must be a balance between methodology and the creative process to make it work.

Truth is, effective teams don’t just happen overnight. You have to put in the human side of things – to trust and protect your team may be the next best step you can take… would you agree?