Software development companies are a popular business choice for aspiring entrepreneurs. The demand for software and applications has only increased in the past decade, and the vast workforce is turning to development as a stable career choice.
It’s relatively easy for companies to field a workable development team but hiring and managing the best talent in the business is easier said than done. Some of the big firms went through trial and error to ensure they got off on the right foot from the get-go.
But in a highly competitive business environment, most startups don’t have years to test their budding teams or the resources to hire the best consultancy firms to help navigate them through the hiring minefield.
We’ve built this guide to help you hire the right development team and have useful practices to aid in their management too. By the end of this post, you’ll be on your way to building a successful workforce that can propel your company to stratospheric heights.
How To Build A Successful Development Team
All development teams begin in the same place – either as LinkedIn job posts or dedicated employment postings by the company looking to “hire fresh and exciting talent”. We’ve heard and seen it all before. And this is by no accident either.
Most companies know that software development teams consist of:
- UI/UX designers
- Project Managers
- Business analysts
- Developers and programmers
- Testers and quality assurance representatives
But sifting through thousands of potential candidate resumes for a handful of available positions isn’t the easiest task for any startup. So how does one even begin with finding the right developer?
Aloa is the best company to provide hiring and management advice as the company itself employs a thorough vetting process for all its resources.
Whether in-house or remote, our team of dedicated developers is selected after thorough research and planning. We leave no stone unturned in our quest to have the most skilled and dedicated development teams for all your software projects.
With years of experience under our belt, let's look at our top suggestions for creating a successful and productive development team.
1. An Understanding Of Job Roles
Regardless of whether your company is new to the business and just setting up shop or has been in the game for years, the initial stage is the same. Research is the first critical part of any hiring process and is often the most overlooked one too.
Most businesses don’t adequately identify the specific roles they ought to fill and take developers (bar their skill sets and development capabilities) as a one-size-fits-all solution.
Start by asking yourself these questions:
1.1 What Type Of Developers Do We Need In Our Team?
Development is a vast and varied landscape. Without highlighting the specific focus of your projects, it can be very easy to make the wrong choice on the type of developer you pick.
Is your company primarily going to serve as a web development agency? Are you going to develop mobile apps too? Or are you into custom software development, in which case, are you going to provide AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning) solutions too?
These are important questions to answer before you begin recruiting. Developers come in all shapes and sizes and with multiple responsibilities.
Some are capable front-end or back-end developers while others are business analysts that picked up software development in college. Knowing the exact type you require for your development process is crucial.
1.2 What Workflow Methodology Will We Be Implementing?
Development teams of all sizes require workflow management techniques to help keep them on track and ensure all project deliverables are completed as scheduled. Some companies employ the Agile software development methodology where the development project is broken down into sprints.
Others with a smaller team size retain the Waterfall technique, but regardless of what you choose, you may need to hire appropriate personnel to help direct your team.
An agile team requires a Scrum master to help plan sprints and dictate the flow of the project. Investing in a project team lead can offset a lot of the growing pains that a young company experiences and can help bring everyone in the company on the same page.
More importantly, they can help get projects out the window quicker to minimize bottlenecks. Fortunately, hiring a Scrum master is relatively easy.
Most project managers are well-versed in Agile and Kanban and an experienced professional can effectively handle any working methodology. They can also keep tabs on performance metrics and ensure everyone is working at their full potential.
1.3 What Is Our Company Culture Going To Be?
Your employees dictate what outlook you’ll give to the world. A young and snazzy software development team will be more motivated to work, but may not conform to the strict corporate structure you’re looking to implement.
Conversely, experienced professionals:
- Will get the job done on time
- Will have less time to learn on the job
- Won’t be too interested in team-building exercises
- May be less flexible to adjust to a budding company
And while we understand that the previous paragraph may seem like painting stereotypes, the fact of the matter is that Millennials and Gen-Z employees are more independent but with shorter attention spans.
They’re also going to form a large bulk of the workforce soon and adjusting your expectations to build a friendlier company culture with open-door policies may be in your best interest. Try and figure out if your business is more IBM or Google before you hire anyone.
2. A Clear Hiring Strategy
Hiring the right people for your company can be exhaustive if you’re the CEO, CFO, and CTO all in one. And let’s be honest, that is more often the case with newer companies than established businesses. Having a clear hiring strategy can help.
And in the post-pandemic working environment, hybrid and remote development setups have become the norm. Addressing your business’s employment structure is also important. Will you get the developers to work remotely most of the week or are you sticking to an in-house team from the get-go?
This is one aspect that needs ironing out before you begin your hiring process. Remote development teams open up a world of possibilities where a company has a global talent pool to source from and isn’t limited geographically.
It is especially great for startups looking for inexpensive software engineers and UI designers for their businesses to offload the majority of their work.
Similarly, hybrid work environments are excellent options for companies short on in-house staffing space. These measures can benefit all stakeholders of the company and lessen the financial strain of renting out a bigger dedicated office space.
Our recommendation for hiring excellent software development resources is to make the first recruitment count. Instead of jumping straight in with developer resumes, hire an experienced human resource (HR) representative that can scour the job market for the best talent, and manage the negotiations and contracts for you.
Aloa’s screening and hiring process is built on a similar foundation. We excel at hiring global teams that are experts in their fields and have the guidance of the best in-house HR representatives to help us with the heavy lifting.
All of Aloa’s development team members are thoroughly put through their paces to ensure they’re capable of working in a fast-paced and dynamic workplace - which is what gives the company its edge compared to the rest in the industry.
This leads us to our final point…
3. A Focus On Hiring The Right People
Any development business is only as capable as the people running it. It includes all stakeholders, including the employees that work at the company as they have an equal (if not greater) role to play to ultimately dictate the success and failure of your company.
If your developers and designers are novices in their profession or fresh off the bat, chances are they’ll take too long to get any project underway and have more issues with project delivery.
Similarly, an experienced developer may spend too long trying to perfect their code or overcorrect more than needed, leaving testers without active tasks at any given moment. Team utilization should be the priority if you’re looking to run a well-oiled machine.
While we understand downtimes and slow days, unnecessary idle times should be avoided by everyone at the company. Even if you have the right blend of young and experienced talent at your company and are trying to foster a collaborative culture, issues can persist.
Sociability is a big reason why most professionals fail to live up to their potential since they’re inherently less likely to share progress updates and maintain an engaging working environment for everyone.
It is one area where business leaders may need to step in to try and get everyone collaborating, or hire team members more open to a friendly and collaborative environment.
And it always starts from the top. For instance, software product development is only going to be successful if the product owner knows exactly what’s required of product managers, what the pain points and challenges are of the project, and how to get the team to work on all cylinders.
It is true for any department or profession, and any self-organizing team requires a clear action plan and guidance to do its job well.
How To Manage A Successful Development Team
With the basics of hiring done with, it’s critical to know how you can retain your team of superstar developers and keep them engaged and productive.
Team morale is an important consideration for any business leader and eliminating dependencies is essential to ensure everyone knows their roles and responsibilities.
Let’s discuss the 5 ways you can continue to build on your development team and ensure they function well as a unit.
I. Stick To One Development Methodology
We briefly mentioned the two most popular development methodologies above - Waterfall and Agile - but these aren’t the only kids on the block. Software development is a nuanced undertaking and teams require guiding principles and processes to help structure their work.
Regardless of which methodology you opt for, the end goal is the same – to achieve progress. So while Scrum development may suit a certain company, in smaller and more compact teams, it may cause unnecessary delays by incorporating testing at every sprint.
Similarly, the Waterfall development plan may work with small teams with manageable code delivery but can wreak havoc with larger development projects due to its slower pace.
These methodologies are unique and have their fair share of advantages and disadvantages. Select the best methodology for your workflow and stick to it till the end. Conceptually and practically.
II. Handle All Non-Technical Tasks Yourself
Technical talent is a valuable commodity, and you wouldn’t want to waste your development team’s time on menial tasks that you could do yourself. These include administrative tasks, status reports, and other peripheral duties which can become a burden for your teams and take their focus away from their technical work.
Plus, your team will appreciate you allowing them the room and freedom to focus, and this approach can have additional productivity benefits too.
However, this doesn’t mean your developers only code from their first day at the job till the last - effective communication is still important. This aspect is further driven home if you have remote or hybrid teams where a global talent pool is contributing to the completion of a project.
III. Only Assess Important Metrics
All managers must assess their team’s individual and collective outcomes using relevant metrics. It is especially true in software development but the process can be needlessly complicated.
It is because software development has an abundance of key performance indicators (KPIs) that may be too tempting for managers to look into without understanding the broader context. Thus, judging the team on a numerical basis can be a faulty approach.
Pick the right statistics. A senior software developer may not code as much but is vital for a team. Similarly, a fast coder may get a lot done in very little time, but their code would require plenty of revisions later. Use metrics to understand your team’s nuanced dynamics.
IV. Create A Culture Of Collaboration With The Right Tools
Provide the right tools that will help your team stay connected at all times. Try to keep a single channel of communication and limit the number of apps you use internally. Asana, Trello boards, and Slack are some very important considerations today.
Keeping conversations and project progress under one window can help dissipate confusion, duplicated efforts, and disconnection among team members. Most communication tools are also free to use, but enterprise versions may be a worthwhile investment with larger teams.
Look into a corporate email solution too for direct communication and company-wide rollouts. A virtual meeting client is also necessary to help manage and update remote teams. With these tools comes the responsibility to educate the teams on their proper functioning and how often communication is expected of them.
These guidelines about communication can help ensure more efficient and consistent collaboration among your development team.
V. Practice Effective Communication
Your project requirements shouldn’t be so intricately detailed that developers follow them to the tee, or so vague that the end product doesn’t resemble the client’s expectations one bit. Strike a balance between these two extremes.
It is especially true when maximizing end-user experience by working with hybrid or remote development teams. Always ensure you communicate project requirements clearly and effectively and are always available to answer any runtime queries your team may have.
When team members don’t share the same office space, it’s vital to keep everyone on the same page. Always try to refine your project’s requirements before they reach your team. Ensure nothing is left in the backlog and that your Scrum team is on board with any changes that need to be made.
A retrospective approach to communication can hurt your team’s productivity and cause unnecessary pitfalls. Communicate expectations clearly and listen to your developer’s objections and hesitations.
We hope our guide on hiring and managing a development team sheds some light on the most important parts of building a structuring a solid foundation for your company.
By following these proven practices, you’re well on your way to creating a team that can handle any software project with ease and ensures your company is working at full steam.
As with any other facet of business and employee management, research is the first step for all internal and external matters, and hiring and management are no different.
And if you’re looking to see a software development firm living by the principles shared above, look no further than Aloa. We employ a robust vetting process for all teams working at the company that ensures it never runs directionless.