It doesn’t matter what type of project you’re working on or how big the scope is – successful software development teams live and die by their ability to communicate and collaborate with one another.
But in an era where more people are working remotely than ever thanks to the still-ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this can often feel like an uphill battle. Thankfully, all hope is not lost. There are a number of viable ways to increase collaboration within software development teams that you should absolutely explore as soon as possible.
The Importance of Regular Meetings and Retrospectives
Especially given everything going on in the world right now, regular meetings and retrospectives during the software development process are no longer a recommendation – they are a requirement.
When teams are spread out, it can often feel like individual members are working in a silo. They know what they’re supposed to be doing, but they can lose sight of the bigger picture. This isn’t anybody’s fault – it’s a natural part of the conditions that many are working in.
Therefore, even if it’s a virtual meeting over a service like Zoom, you should make it a priority to have people check in with one another on a regular basis. These “all hands on deck” meetings and retrospectives can help people contextualize how the work they’re doing fits into the bigger whole of the project. They can see how far things have come, and how far is still left to go, all in a way that makes sure everyone is always on the same page and moving in the same direction.
Embracing Agile Methodologies
One technique that many software development teams have had success with involves embracing Agile methodologies whenever possible. It’s become one of the most popular points-of-view on project management in a wide range of industries for a reason – it brings with it the type of organizational flexibility that you would be hard-pressed to achieve through other means.
The Agile methodology is an iterative approach to software development – one that takes an incremental approach to what you’re doing. The major advantage to this is one that can’t help but improve the quality of the finished product – which also goes a long way towards increasing end user satisfaction as well.
But within this context, the true benefit is that aforementioned flexibility. With Agile at the heart of your software development process, teams are working not on the larger whole but in smaller bursts. They’re getting constant feedback from not only team leaders, but those around them and even from clients.
This has a far-reaching effect on the software development process almost immediately. Rather than building something and then tackling all the issues and challenges that cropped up along the way, they are taken naturally as they occur. Changes don’t happen at the end of the project – they happen all during the development phase. By design, this forces various teams and team members to be in close communication with one another. They’re all constantly contributing and any productivity silos that did exist are broken once and for all.
Enabling Collaborative Tools
Another way to increase collaboration within software development teams involves making sure that people have access to the tools they need to actually do that. Tools like Slack, for example, allow for not only group chats and calls, but also secure file-sharing, direct messaging, and more. It can also integrate with a lot of the third-party software you’re likely already using.
The same is true of tools like Trello, which are great for creating a list of essential tasks that can be tracked in the most efficient way possible. Ephemeral environments can also be useful in many situations. Listen to your team members when they tell you what they need to better collaborate with one another and give them whatever they need. It’s an investment that will pay dividends by way of the project’s success.
The Impact of Continuous Learning
Finally, one of the best ways to increase collaboration within software development teams involves creating a culture where continuous learning is always a priority.
Every team member has their own individual strengths, this is true. They all bring something to the table that makes the collective stronger than any one of them could be individually. But the minute that you think you’ve “learned enough” or are “as good as you can be” is the minute you’ve lost track of that which is most important.
Show through example that continuous learning is always a top priority. Encourage people to continue to hone and develop their skills, even in the thick of the development process. Share knowledge with people that they may not have access too otherwise. Not only will this create a better and more collaborative team, but it will also go a long way towards guaranteeing the ultimate success of the project as well.
In the end, these are just a few of the many ways that you can increase collaboration within software development teams. As all teams are unique unto themselves, not every technique will work equally well for all groups. But the important thing is that organizational leaders understand how essential collaboration is to what they’re trying to accomplish. The sooner they buy into that, the sooner that mentality will trickle down to the team members, too. At that point, you’ll have a rock-solid foundation upon which to build from moving forward.