Software development is a long, challenging, and complicated process with a lot of moving parts, and with those moving parts come a lot of points of potential failure. You could even argue that software development is more about avoiding failure than achieving success. Here are three things that are absolutely vital to a successful development process.
The Right People
You need qualified people to get the job done, but just picking the people with the most experience or the most impressive resumes is not always the answer. Your objective should be to build a self-sufficient, versatile team and to put them in a position to optimize their strengths. Keeping your team as small as possible, while counterintuitive, helps reduce overhead and increase productivity. Hire senior developers, and bank on their experience and leadership. Make sure your team works together well and communicates efficiently, as this is often more important than raw programming skills. Make sure to hire women when possible, as studies have shown that mixed-gender teams tend to be more productive. Getting your personnel right can save you countless hours of development time, not to mention a lot of sleepless nights and stressful days.
The Right Training
No matter what type of software you’re developing, going into a project blindly is a sure path to disaster. You will want to operate using a development framework that holds a project together while removing unnecessary burdens from individuals, letting them focus on productivity in their areas of expertise. There are several different software development methodologies to consider. Agile is one of the most popular methods of software development, and it offers a lean approach to the task. A system such as Agile aids the development process by giving your team-specific timelines and objectives to strive for individually while keeping everyone on the same page. While training your team for such systems takes time on the front end, it is rewarded several times over during the development process.
The Right Leadership
Even with the right people and the right system, your project may underperform without quality leadership. Leadership should lead by example to establish a level of competence for the entire team. An effective leadership model is the Situational Leadership II (SLII). This model focuses on developing trust, which aids in communication. It’s important for the situational leader to delegate tasks appropriately, to emphasize individual strengths, and to focus on communication. A stressed and overworked workforce consistently under-produces. Your team should be confident that its leaders will provide quality feedback, listen effectively, and consistently put them in a position to be successful.
Building a great software development team is a challenging task, but the rewards are numerous. Focus on getting qualified, compatible people, a quality development system, and solid leadership, and you’ll be on the path to success.