How to make software engineering teams 50% more efficient
High-performing software engineering teams deliver 53% better results in employee experience and productivity compared to low-performing teams.
It’s according to the 2020 Gartner Software Engineering Team Effectiveness Survey, which reveals the factors that determine the effectiveness of software engineering teams in achieving stakeholder value and responsiveness goals. But what tactics explain this improvement?
Many software engineering leaders believe that a team member’s reporting line or physical location determines success, but our research found that neither has an impact.
Leaders are also inclined to credit Agile, DevOps, and automation for high performance. Yet agile and DevOps are so widely adopted that they offer little differentiation. Software engineering leaders must look elsewhere for improvement opportunities.
They can find these opportunities with tactics that promote autonomy and accountability in software engineering teams. When leaders enable teams to shape engineering standards, promote critical skills, and act as servant leaders to remove barriers and liaise with stakeholders, their teams produce superior results.
Empower teams to shape standards
Software engineering standards are important to reduce risk, cost, and complexity. However, if they are too restrictive, they can prevent teams from achieving larger business goals. To maximize benefits and limit constraints, software engineering teams must participate in creating the standards that best suit them. The result makes them 23% more efficient than their non-standard-setting counterparts. Currently, only 41% of software engineering teams are involved.
To shape the standards, teams must gather feedback from across the software engineering organization, evolve the standards as technology and business needs change, and review and provide recommendations to make deal with situations where the standards do not match. Be sure to address user experience, architecture, database design, and integration standards, as these issues have a strong influence on team effectiveness.
Promote critical skills
Software engineering leaders who ensure teams have the critical skills they need to achieve their goals independently eliminate delays and improve results. Because skill requirements are constantly changing, good software engineering leaders prioritize the skills and competencies that enable teams to successfully execute their daily workflows. At the same time, they encourage the versatility of team members so that everyone is able to contribute to a variety of activities. Gartner research shows that teams made up of versatile members are 18% more effective than teams made up of specialists.
One way to develop versatility is to encourage your team to take on new roles that allow them to develop skills outside of their current area of expertise. Teams with members who do this are 11% more efficient.
Practice Servant Leadership
When various team members are forced to spend time coordinating activities or taking on administrative responsibilities, it takes away from value-added activities. Teams whose leaders, that is to say the scrum masters and managers, take on these activities are, on the other hand, more effective. When leaders identify and resolve roadblocks, for example, their teams are 16% more effective. Similarly, when leaders assume coordination with stakeholders such as project managers or governance partners, they increase team effectiveness by an additional 11%.