7 Habits of Highly Effective Software Development Teams

To keep pace with customer demands, we have always challenged ourselves to improve and improve the way we develop software. We operate in a market where even well-planned software development projects executed by well-organized teams can still be prone to failure. Nevertheless, due to increasing competition and the current economic climate, companies are increasingly relying on improving efficiency and productivity through technological solutions. The role of the software development team has become extremely important. In this lean and competitive business environment, the quality of the software development team not only impacts project failure rates; this has an impact on business failure rates.

So what makes a software development team highly effective? What do successful software development teams have more than their less efficient counterparts? What practices do high performing software development teams adopt? Here are seven habits of modern software development teams that make them highly efficient and successful:

1They include a wider range of stakeholders.

Full team involvement should include a wider range of stakeholders than may have been included in the past, such as operations personnel, safety engineers, and most importantly, business stakeholders and end users. This effectively removes all barriers between the client and the team. To achieve rapid delivery of high-quality software that meets all user requirements, it is necessary to integrate everyone associated with the software development and deployment process into a single, self-organized team.

2They are culturally committed to quality.

Testing experts advise the team from the start and throughout the project life cycle. Developers participate in quality activities such as unit testing. The development process has become more test-driven, often incorporating pattern-driven and behavior-driven approaches. The team must have a mutual understanding of the baseline level of quality and efficiency that it intends to collectively maintain throughout the development process and a common understanding that quality is everyone’s responsibility.

3They popularize teamwork and deep skills.

To successfully complete a project, the team must leverage the skills and abilities of each team member and provide everyone with visibility into all of the work being done. All team members need to have a broader and deeper understanding of what they need to accomplish. Development is no longer just for developers and testing is no longer just for testers. Analytics, development, testing, and operations roles require analytical knowledge, such as data engineering and data science, as well as deeper technical skills in architecture, development, and automation. The boundaries between all these roles have become blurred.

4They automate their processes.

Like manufacturing transformation, automation is central to every part of the software lifecycle. Extensive automation at every step ensures consistency and repeatability. This allows the team to focus on more technically challenging areas while receiving timely feedback on items that need attention. This is especially true for testing. While manual testing is always necessary, automated testing dominates teams and environments that deploy frequent updates and changes.

5They use data analytics to understand how customers use their product.

Development is about creating solutions to solve business problems. Testing has always been about providing information to stakeholders about the readiness of solutions developed for the user. Simultaneous examination of data regarding future and current usage of a software solution should generate just enough development and testing to bring new features to market with the right balance of functionality and quality. Analytics are used to influence software design, development, integration, testing, deployment, and business decisions.

6They create feedback loops at all stages of the development cycle.

After the initial setup, most of today’s project lifecycle tools produce data and insights easily and quickly. Using business intelligence tools, teams build near real-time information dashboards that report on what’s planned in the pipeline, user story status, and experiment tracking end users.

sevenThey frequently test in production.

As systems evolve and the number of connected nodes increases (think Internet of Things), it is impossible to create test environments that mimic the real world. There is no choice but to test in production. Systems and applications are architected and packaged using microservices and containers. Therefore, new features can be deployed to production but not activated, using feature switches. This allows the team to reduce their risk and control exposure to new or changed code, as well as manage which users see which features or compare two or more approaches using A/B testing.

Ultimately, highly efficient software development teams can deliver software quickly, reliably, and securely, driving business performance in terms of profitability, productivity, and customer satisfaction. The ability to deliver software quickly and reliably and to provide high levels of availability is a powerful tool. It allows organizations to easily and quickly prototype new products and features and test the impact on users without impacting existing users. It also allows companies to track compliance and regulatory changes and quickly and reliably deliver critical software patches and necessary security updates. Moreover, it enables organizations to respond effectively to technological and market changes and to create superior products and services.

Keeping pace with technological change is critical for organizations in these competitive environments that must satisfy demanding customers while delivering consistent revenue to satisfy stakeholders. Those who excel in profitability, productivity and customer satisfaction survive. Anything less than excellence leads to failure.

Joshua is an Experis Quality Engineering Practice Leader based in Columbus, OH. He is an accomplished software testing and development professional with over 10 years of QA and testing experience, primarily in automation testing and acceptance test driven development (ATDD). He has held executive and advisory positions with several industry leading companies including Nationwide Insurance, Capital One, Dell, Stanley Black & Decker, Cisco, iHeart Media, Starbucks, Mercedes-Benz and various other companies across national. His experience includes designing, implementing and teaching automation solutions for a wide range of clients in systems and software, in addition to process and methodology consulting for quality and performance improvement. efficiency in the software development life cycle (SDLC).

Gordon K. Morehouse