How to accelerate your development team in 6 easy steps

Joseph Sibony
Joseph Sibony reading time: 5 minutes
September 21, 2023

Juggling the day-to-day management of development teams can be tricky.

Add in the stress of working to tight deadlines, the risk of crunch, and scope creep, and you’ve got a recipe for panic.

So, how can you accelerate your development team while keeping operations as smooth and stress-free as possible?

In this article, we share our top six tips and tricks for getting the most out of your development team and your coding projects.

Secret #1: Prioritize the well-being of your developers

One study by McKinsey & Company revealed a surprising insight about developer velocity.

The biggest factor determining developer velocity is not developer skill level, or the tools they use.

It’s actually psychological safety — defined as “a shared belief that risk-taking in the pursuit of innovative problem-solving is permitted and protected”.

In other words, by prioritizing building safe, open environments where dev teams can experiment, fail, and learn, organizations are more likely to have faster developers.

It’s also about embracing the fact that developers are still humans, who will not always perform at peak efficiency for whatever reason. It’s never going to be a set metric — it will always fluctuate based on each developer in the team.

So, by bearing this fact in mind, you can always compensate for these additional factors to measure developer velocity much more effectively.

It also gives teams the extra breathing space to stop working on a project for the purpose of building new processes and finding tools to reduce common industry occurrences like crunch and excessive overtime — especially prevalent in the video game industry.

Ultimately, prioritizing developers’ health is the key to ensuring that they’re more motivated, more open to experimentation with their coding efforts, and better set up for success in delivering top-quality code on time.

Secret #2: Don’t be afraid of failure — embrace it

No matter how talented your dev team, how top-notch your tools, or how prepared your team is, there’s no such thing as perfect software.

In fact, most software has countless failures tucked away inside. But the difference is that good software is the result of learning from these mistakes.

There are many reasons why mistakes might sneak into your software code — from build errors to the odd stray comma somewhere it shouldn’t be. But failing is always good if the outcome is improvement.

And the faster you can create cycles that turn failures into positive outcomes, the better.

Coined as “productive failure”, there are several ways to spot and fix errors faster and earlier in the product life cycle, including:

  • A/B testing for faster corrective feedback on features, changes, and updates
  • Test-driven development
  • Static code analysis

Secret #3: Don’t build your coding house on the sand

You know the story about building your house on the sand — without a proper foundation, it’s doomed to crumble.

And the same goes for your coding development and management.

Messy code and architecture will leave your work riddled with errors and your team frustrated. So having a defined structure and processes helps your team work faster and reduces friction.

Maintaining conceptual integrity is the key goal here.

Always consider these factors when you’re building your infrastructure:

  • Your code architecture
  • Maintaining proper documentation and release notes to make finding errors in your code much easier
  • Effective communication channels so teams can identify issues, share ideas, and collaborate
  • Clear processes that are easy to repeat and improve

By taking the proper care to reduce the number of failure points and messy processes, your team will be much happier and more effective as a result.

Secret #4: Keep on top of your technical debt

You could have the best team, immaculate architecture, and reams of perfectly organized documentation.

But no matter how prepared or skilled you are, technical debt will always creep into any code you build. Whether it’s a feature built on obsolete architecture, a lack of testing for an update, or a slip-up hidden in the code, anything can cause your software to fail.

Perfect code is just a pipe dream, after all.

And the more mistakes your team have to fix, the more time they have to spend solving the problems, and the less time they have to build new software.

You can easily mitigate this by building automation into your processes. Automated testing, bug finding, or code analysis is a quick and easy way to reduce these issues and prevent your technical debt from racking up too high.

Additionally, you can keep a watchful eye on your code, constantly auditing your processes and technology to help keep your technical debt low.

 

Secret #5: Prune your code branches

As any gardening enthusiast will tell you, small offshoots can spoil the overall growth of a plant.

When you’ve been running code for a long time, you can have branches on branches for every part of your codebase.

This can be a good thing, by allowing teams to work on issues in parallel to solve issues faster.

The problem arises when branches aren’t effectively managed — instead, dev teams can spend too much time dealing with code inflation, working around long branches that haven’t been merged, or that shouldn’t even be open.

Having a solid branch management strategy in place lets devs work faster by keeping the code more accessible and reducing the frustration of having to sift through the right branch within a branch within a branch…

By keeping changes small, you effectively reduce the size of branches and make them more manageable and readable, making life easier for devs without impacting the code quality.

 

Secret #6: Use your KPIs as a tool, not an end

KPIs — love them or hate them, they’re an inescapable part of every business.

They can be useful to help you understand development progress and delivery status. But if not used correctly, they can be frustrating and misleading.

For example, let’s say you’re looking at a KPI like code coverage for your team. If you’re focusing too closely on that KPI, you might only choose specific tests to see if you’re hitting those KPI targets, missing out on other things that could be relevant, interesting, and beneficial for your code.

So while achieving your KPIs is a good motivator, it shouldn’t be your team’s primary objective. Instead, focus on setting realistic, relevant goals based on the main objective of creating software.

 

 

By remembering these six helpful hints about how to accelerate your development team, you can get the most out of their coding capabilities, reduce the number of errors along the way, and hit your targets while maintaining a more stress-free environment.

Joseph Sibony
Joseph Sibony reading time: 5 minutes minutes September 21, 2023
September 21, 2023

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