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Techniques To Improve Your Software Development Process

software-development

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Software development teams have the potential for better team interaction than some workers who are working in the same office. Yes, team leaders are essential, but sometimes they can hinder the productivity of a team by micromanaging and enforcing rigid processes rather than letting new strategies evolve organically. Remote dev teams are separated from your office politics, and other factors that can slow the dev process. The good news is devs are result oriented and we all know it’s harder to manage every detail from a distance, remote dev teams encourage a mentality of, “here’s a task, tell me when it’s done.”

Transitioning to a remote software development company can be an intimidating. But if your software development and design team is on the same page, then it should work like clockwork. Your developers should be working with the same technology, the same process, and the same principles and if they aren’t well there will be more problems combining code if everyone is not working with the same values.

Let’s disassemble the methodology built around scrum development and then construct a framework for skillfully managing your dev shop.

Communicate 

The team lead should have weekly interactions with the client whether thats onsite or over a teleconference. The lead can then communicate essential tasks and details to the web development team. When you set project goals with your client, always account for the planning fallacy. The planning fallacy suggests that we are given to an optimistic bias in estimating how long a task will take.  In the planning stage, everyone imagines ideal working conditions, and forgets murphy’s law: if something can go wrong while you’re on a tight deadline, then it definitely will go wrong. To avoid overly optimistic deadlines for your project, try to rethink traditional software development techniques.  A popular method for deadline projection is “planning poker,” also called scrum poker.  With planning poker you incorporate each member of the team in estimating how long a task will take. Your team’s input is essential, but over time every system can break down. Your software development team will overestimate timelines to make their lives easier but the best thing that you can do is to anticipate factors that affect project-time estimations, and make reductions that you can accommodate.

Goals

The team lead for each web development team should be setting realistic goals.  As a team lead, don’t lay out a plan for the complete project development when you first meet the product owner,  stick to the essential building blocks of the project. Only discuss goals that can be accomplished in the short term. Maximize your time by getting ahead and moving on to the next task set, rather than trying to expand the product features. Ideally each member of your software development team is capable of analyzing their task.  They should be independently segmenting their projects and establishing goals for each segment.  This makes it easier to hold each member accountable for their segment of development and to evaluate their progress.

Shorten daily project meetings.  Have one quick stand up meeting everyday, we like to do ours in the morning so that we can discuss the work that needs to be completed for that particular day, it’s important to incorporate the whole team to promote focus and communication.  Be sure to report yesterday’s progress, today’s goals, and any roadblocks that you have along the way. This may seem like a needless chore, but it will prevent having tons of smaller check-up meetings throughout the day.  Having a daily standup meeting with everyone frees up your day to focus on pertinent issues with members of the team that actually need to be there.

Promote a self-organizing team

Wherein team members can make decisions and adapt in a moments notice. Ideally individuals in the team can anticipate work and then start on the next project segment without being tasked with it. Train your team to grasp the depth of project goals.  In the ideal environment you’re the team lead is open to answer essential questions, and devs can innovate in the process and recommend improvements.  The scrum master ensures that his team is getting necessary training and growing to improve the team’s collaboration.  Cross training allows software development teams to work on different skill sets that they may not normally have the opportunity to do so- for example, if one developer is a master at back end work, this would be his opportunity to work on front end work. In each iteration of the project, have devs work on new sections of the system that way they each get different experiences and are tested outside of their comfort zone.

Avoid over-engineering your software system, and trim away unneeded features  

“Feature creep” will happen when you add more and more features that go beyond your essential needs and over-complicate the product.  The features that you add to make your software better are often imperceptible, while the user experience is noticeably decreasing due to increased memory use and the need for more processing power. Attempting to anticipate and account for every problem is a poor development strategy. Your project goals will evolve and change direction as you go deeper into a project’s development.  Always incorporate simplicity into your design goal to account for these changes.

Programming features that are required by the user.  Don’t add a feature until it is absolutely necessary.  

Strictly focus on keeping designs simple to maximize your efficiency.  Only incorporate a feature when you need it.  Always delay a decision until it is absolutely necessary for you to decide on adding a new feature. This is not procrastination, waiting allows more time to gather information about which features are essential.  Every design decision should be based on your needs, rather than working on a feature that you assume you will need. Waiting on additional features allows you to reduce your assumptions so that you are only choosing the features that are essential to your program.  Designs evolve as you get further into the dev cycle. If you end up taking your program in a different direction, then a simple design can prevent wasted resources on features that you will never use.

At the end of each sprint, you should have a tangible product increment. You should have a quick sprint review that happens quickly.  Reviews take minimal effort and preparation, use the review to demo and review the product features.  You should also keep a relevant burndown chart to continuously understand the progression of your project, and avoid wandering from your project deadline. The burndown chart is a graph representing how much work you have left on a project versus how much time you have left to do it.  Make the burndown chart efficient as possible. Recalculate estimates of project completion times if your estimates were off to maintain accuracy.

Review your team at each project’s completion, incorporating an analysis of the shipped product, the PO’s perspective, and a retrospective on the team’s effectiveness in delivering the product.  This is a good time to rethink and improve your software development process.  Highlight your accomplishments to supplement future plans.  Review the effectiveness of your team’s communication, and of your tools.  Identify areas of weakness.  All of these things are particularly important for remote software development teams, because it is easy to lose track of the details from a distance.

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