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Creating a software development team is an arduous task to say the least. Making sure that all the moving parts result in one cohesive, working piece of software is difficult. Leading development teams is about guiding developers to do their best work, both in an individual and a team sense.
Transparency is key to making successful software products. Software projects are a marathon, not a sprint. It’s essential for everyone to be on the same page, from members of the software development team to members of the administrative team. It's impossible to tackle an unwieldy beast like software production without having clear and concise communication among all of the individuals involved.
Inspection will ensure that you will be able to respond to change quickly and effectively. You will need to check up on your development team as often as possible, preferably on a daily basis. Face-to-face conversation is the best way to tackle any and all problems that arise. Video conferencing technology makes it possible to have face-to-face conversations even when relying on team members in a different time zone.
Meetings should not be aimless. Meetings with the team should be mission-oriented. In these meetings you should review everything that's been completed since the last time you met with the team, everything you wish to complete for the day, and the tasks ahead.
These daily or weekly meetings must be in a larger context in order to be truly beneficial. The larger context will be overarching goals for the month or the quarter. At the end of the month or the quarter, you will need to go back to reassess, retune, and refactor your processes as you see fit. This requires a calm yet critical eye.
As long as your team is transparent and in constant communication, you will be able to respond to change. Arbitrarily sticking to the project requirements you laid out at the beginning of the software development process will not only hinder the development process, it will hinder the production process as well. Because of this, change should be welcomed. it will be impossible to make a high-quality software product without accepting, welcoming, and responding to continual change.
Delivering working software is the key indicator of progress for your project. Your project requirements will change naturally in the development process as you cycle through more and more advanced versions of your software product. Do not misconstrue this constant change and emphasis on delivering working software to mean that the development process is busied or hurried.
The pace of your development should remain consistent and sustainable. This means a great deal of your time will be wrapped up in research, learning, and analyzing. A team that is busy always doing, always completing tasks, could end up being less efficient than the team that spends a greater amount of time thinking, planning, and analyzing.
Visual planning is a great aid to your development team. It will help keep them on track, place them in the development process, and gauge their own work. This will aid transparency, inspection, and communication. Project boards riddled with sticky notes are readily available for teams looking to implement their own Kanban-style project management. More sophisticated project management tools through Slack and Trello can also be a tremendous benefit to your team.
Communicating with your team as much as possible is key to your success. It’s important to get disparate members of your team to collaborate in ways that you may have not imagined. This is why self-organized, self-motivated teams or the best way to lead software development. Having Engineers talk to business people is an important facet of the process.
Prioritizing people and interactions over development tools and processes is also key. At the end of the day your software, is only useful if it provides some type of satisfactory result to the customer and you can only do that if your team has dedicated itself to continual change, improvement, communication, especially when change is uncomfortable.