Managing software developers can be a tough task since you have to juggle different personalities and skill sets while overcoming obstacles as they arise. If you are a project manager in charge of a software development team, the tips in this guide can improve your managerial skills, keep your developers happy, and help you meet deadlines.
Techniques for Managing Developers
The techniques below can help you better manager your software development team, whether you are a project lead, project manager, or use freelance programmers on a project-by-project basis. Our tips include:
- Create a Positive Work Environment
- Use Agile Methodologies
- Provide Clear Expectations
- Ask Questions
- Offer Frequent Feedback
- Promote Collaboration
- Consider Time Zones
- Recognize and Reward Your Team
- Offer Training
- Use Project Management Software
Create A Positive Work Environment
Less stress can result in more productivity, allowing your development team to produce higher-quality software faster. What can lead to less stress? A positive work environment that developers look forward to contributing to on a daily basis.
Beyond being supportive as a project manager and encouraging a close-knit team, you can promote a positive work environment by allowing remote work from home, flexible schedules, bonuses and incentives, team-building activities, and other perks. All of the above will make your developers feel valued and part of something bigger than just software development, and it can motivate them to go the extra mile. In addition, being known for having a positive work environment can make it easier for you to attract new, top-notch talent to the development team.
Use Agile Methodologies To Boost Efficiency
Even the smallest software development projects can be quite complex and contain several moving parts. Implement Agile methodologies like Kanban or Scrum, and you can enjoy multiple benefits like increased adaptability to changes on the fly, higher-quality products, reduced risk, more predictability, enhanced collaboration, and happier customers.
You can learn more about Agile in our Agile Software Development tutorial.
Provide Clear Expectations
Setting clear expectations can ensure that all of your software developers stay on the same page from the beginning of the project to its completion. When a developer knows what is expected of them, they will have an easier time completing tasks and meeting goals. It can also prevent a blame game and pointing fingers later on should they fail to meet your expectations because you did not clearly outline what was needed, which could destroy team chemistry.
You can set clear expectations to provide transparency in several ways. Begin by discussing the project’s goals in detail so everyone understands the bigger picture. Next, assign roles and responsibilities to each team member so they and their colleagues know who will work on what. Finally, set deadlines so everyone knows what type of schedule they are working on so they can set an appropriate pace.
There may come times when a software developer says something or uses terminology foreign to you. Instead of feeling embarrassed and brushing it off, ask questions to gain clarity. You probably will not be expected to have all the technical knowledge they possess, so speak up when necessary. Doing so will keep everyone aligned and out of the dark.
Offer Frequent Feedback
Continuous feedback can motivate developers to continue what they are doing right. It can also motivate them to improve on tasks that could be better. While your developers can learn from their own mistakes, getting constructive criticism and feedback from project managers or other team members can help them improve even more.
Hold frequent team meetings where you provide feedback to the group as a whole. Hold one-on-one meetings as well to provide more personal feedback and get to know where your developers stand. And always be sure to hold meetings at the end of the development cycle, as that is when you can offer immediate feedback on what went well, what went wrong, and how to proceed in the future. Remember that feedback is a two-way street. Do not just provide it to developers, as they should have a chance to offer feedback, too, so they feel as if they have a voice.
Before providing feedback, make sure you are clear on what each developer is responsible for so any criticism can be accurate and relevant. You can show some interest in personal problems to ensure they are in a proper mindset, plus ask if they feel overwhelmed professionally. This can help you adjust their workload to avoid burnout that could handicap the entire team. Be specific, too. Software developers yearn for precise feedback, so instead of saying, “We need it to be faster,” say, “This must load in under one second.” The more numbers you use, the better.
It is worth mentioning that while meetings are essential for providing feedback and sharing ideas, you do not want to overdo it. Too many meetings can lead to a dreadful development experience, distractions, and a loss of focus.
Promote Collaboration Between Development Team Members
Make sure that your development team regularly asks questions and shares thoughts and ideas. Give them an avenue to express creativity that can lead to higher-quality software releases. Ideally, each developer will know what their colleagues are working on as well.
With so many collaboration tools out there that offer email, direct messaging, chat, video conferencing, file sharing, real-time editing, etc., you have no excuse not to have a communicative team. Whether you work in an office or remotely, hold in-person meetings, video conferences, and regular chats via Slack or similar software to keep everyone informed and in sync.
We have several great roundups of collaboration tools for different types of developers that can help you find the right collaboration software for your team:
- Top Collaboration Tools for Software Developers
- Top Collaboration Tools for Web Developers
- Collaboration Tools for Game Developers
- Best Collaboration Tools for Mobile Developers
Consider Time Zones
Now, more than ever, software developers are working remotely. This could mean they split time between the local office and their homes, or they live in an entirely different continent in a time zone that significantly differs from yours.
Time zones play an important factor when it comes to communication between development team members. Keep this in mind when scheduling meetings, as you want everyone to be able to attend without significantly affecting their sleep or work schedules. Your best bet is to schedule meetings during overlapping time zone hours to keep everyone happy and attendance high.
Check out our list of the Best Tools for Remote Developers to help collaboration among remote team members.
Recognize And Reward Your Team
You do not want your software developers to go through the motions each day, feeling as if they are ignored or are not making a difference. How can you avoid this morale-destroying mistake? By regularly recognizing and rewarding individual developers and the entire team when they achieve goals.
Since software development can be so complex and challenging, regular recognition and rewards can keep developers going during those difficult moments. They can also be lifesavers when working with beginning developers who are learning the ropes and unsure of their skills.
Hold regular office parties or team-building activities to promote relaxation and motivation, bring developers closer together, and maintain morale.
Offer Continuous Learning And Training Opportunities
Learning is critical to software development since technologies, frameworks, programming languages, etc., are constantly evolving. The only way to keep up with the ever-changing software development landscape is to ensure that your developers have access to the latest learning materials, courses, workshops, and the like.
While this may require some investment, the newly acquired and sharpened skills your developers will have should provide a significant return.
Leverage The Power Of Project Management Software
As mentioned, managing a team of software developers is a tough job. You can make it easier, though, with the help of project management software like Asana, Wrike, Monday.com, Zoho Projects, Smartsheet, Jira, etc.
Project management software comes chock full of features to measure progress, manage tasks and projects, collaborate, and much more all in one spot. With the right PM software, you can ensure no crucial tasks slip through the cracks, keep your team on the same page, stay within budget, and meet deadlines.
We have a list of the Best Project Management Tools and Software for Developers to help you find the right PM solution.