In an increasingly technological world, there are already a dizzying array of technological tools for almost every industry and task and the number is only growing. In addition to all of the commercially available apps and programs, customized software is becoming more and more cost-effective for a growing number of businesses. This means that the right tools for one business or team are not always going to be the right tools for another, even if they do the same thing. Having the right tools is critical for accomplishing almost any task.
Tools also can’t just work effectively on their own, however, they need to integrate well into an entire toolbox. Here are 5 tips on how to improve your software development team’s workflow.
Take both the individual and collective needs of your team into account
All teams engage in a different blend of collective and individual work. Software developers may actually not only spend more time working individually than many other teams, but they may also be more likely to be spread across the globe. As software developers themselves, they may have programs they prefer using to manage tasks over others. You want to find a good balance of programs that can meet both the individual and collective needs of your team.
For instance, you may use a program like Basecamp to track and manage team progress, but you may have one developer that prefers to use Asana to track their own tasks and another that prefers Evernote. Not everyone is going to get what they want and it is impossible to keep everyone happy. Just like every other manager on the planet, you always have to be balancing the collective needs of the team (and yours as the project manager) with the needs of each individual team member.
Choose tools that are conducive to the type of methodology that you employ
If your team uses a Scrum framework, then you may want to use tools that are specifically designed to work with that type of process. Some examples include GitScrum, Jira or Target Process. Additionally, tools designed to fit in with Kanban or Lean methodologies would be Trello, Blossom or Kanbanize.
Choose tools based on the dynamics of your team
If your team all works in the same office, then you will need a different set of tools than if they are spread across the globe. Even if they all work in the same office but have flexible schedules, you will still need tools that work best within those dynamics. Blossom, for instance is specifically designed for teams that are spread across different cities or time zones or for teams that travel frequently. So, if your team employs a Kanban framework and is spread across the globe, then Blossom might be right for you. If you use a lot of freelancers, then you might choose to use Paymo, which offers automatic time tracking and invoicing.
Choose tools that integrate with other tools you are most likely to use
Other programs you use such as those for accounting and payroll will also play a key role when choosing your workflow apps. While platforms like Trello will integrate seamlessly with hundreds of some of the largest and most well-known platforms, programs and apps, some programs like Jira work with a wide range of smaller platforms. This can be great for smaller enterprises but can also cause issues as they grow and expand. While your workflow will always be growing, morphing, developing and changing, you definitely want to take a long term view when planning your most foundational base workflow.
Constantly be evaluating, refining and honing the process
It is a fact of life that what works best today is not what worked best yesterday nor will it be what will work best tomorrow. When one team member leaves, it creates a hole the will be filled by a completely new and unique individual that will bring an entirely different viewpoint and skillset to the table. One change in team members will inherently change the entire dynamic of the team. In addition, the tools that worked adequately for one project may not work as well for another and tasks that used to be critical can actually become redundant over time. Developing a workflow is not a “one-and-done’ task, but an ongoing, constantly changing and developing process.
A manager’s job is similar to that of a flight control operator of a busy airport. You may not fly the planes yourself, but you need to always ensure that traffic proceeds in a smooth and orderly fashion and that all resources are being used to maximum capacity. When there are breakdowns, you need to be able to smoothly and efficiently reroute traffic and handle any issues in a calm, controlled manner. In addition, in some cases, some flights will need to take precedence over others, even though other flights may have been in line first.
You may have to settle petty disputes and resolve minor squabbles, which need to be addressed before they become major ones. Software and other types of technology are the tools you use to help keep everything moving in a smooth, orderly fashion and make sure that you and your entire team are all on the same page and pursuing the same goals.