If you’re aiming to create a smooth and productive development process, it’s not enough to provide your devs with task descriptions. You also need to communicate deadlines, requirements, priorities, project updates clearly but most importantly explain why team is doing what they are doing and what business value it delivers. To achieve that you need to develop a formal process for your team.
Read on to see seven best practices for developing an excellent process for a development team.
1. Pick the right software
Most of the time, development teams rely on specialized project management platforms to coordinate their work.
But not every project management platform is designed to support a software development process. That’s why you should pick a tool that is well-equipped to do so. Jira Software is one of the leaders on the market – and no wonder, as it’s able to support every single element of a successful development process.
When choosing a tool, make sure that it allows your team to keep all project requirements and tasks in one clearly defined place. You don’t want them scattered between Slack, email and other communication tools.
2. Prioritize tasks
Another thing all successful team leaders do is task prioritization. Your developers should know the priority order for delivering the tasks stored in the backlog. They should have a clear idea about which tasks to fall back on when they encounter blockers. Establishing priority when ordering tasks is critical – and so is the communication of your priorities to the team.
3. Define decision makers
The next step is defining roles and responsibilities in your team, but also outside of it. I wanted to focus on the second part here. Your developers need to know who is responsible for making key project decisions. Let developers know who to contact if they need help or extra information about the tasks they’re completing.
Make sure that the decision makers are aware that developers might contact them. If needed, assign to a person to play the role of a proxy who facilitates communication between developers and other people involved in the project.
4. Communicate deadlines
If your team needs to meet a deadline, communicate it. Another great practice is telling your team why it’s so important to deliver the work by a given date. That way developers will identify with the goal and take responsibility for making it on time.
Mark the deadline in your project management software too so that everyone can see it. Don’t set up deadlines that only put pressure on developers – sooner or later; they will get used to them and start ignoring them.
It’s a good idea to set up milestone scopes for a quarter or 6 months period where you describe what you’d like to achieve in that time. They help developers organize their work to achieve this specific goal.
5. Develop a workflow
It might sound really basic, but you’d be surprised how many teams rely on workflows that aren’t formally defined and then struggle when requirements change.
A workflow is a process a team uses to get tasks done. It’s about the lifecycle of tasks as they move from stages such as to do, in progress, and done. In software development, things get even more complicated as tasks go through phases such as doing, planning, reviewing, and deployment.
Picking a tool like Jira Software, you can be sure that your team can customize your formal workflow to match the reality of the work completed by your team.
Once your workflow is in place, try to look for bottlenecks and other inefficiencies in your process. Note stages that seem unusually slow or steps where work piles up for a user or activity. Modify your process to solve these problems. A workflow will provide you with insights that help to improve and streamline the work of your team.
6. Create a Kanban or Scrum board
One smart method your team can use to organize their work is a classic Agile methodology technique, the Kanban or Scrum board. Create a table with columns listing tasks in the backlog, planned for the next sprint, in progress, and done.
Every time you start a sprint, move a given number of tasks from backlog to the sprint. That way you’ll avoid the situation where your backlog grows uncontrollably while your team becomes helpless in dealing with the mounting tasks.
By dividing your work into 2-week sprints and logging all tasks on the Scrum board, you’ll keep your team happy and productive. Additionally, Kanban and Scrum boards are accessible to anyone and serve as an excellent space to show stakeholders how the work in a given sprint is proceeding and provide reports to visualize work.
7. Provide feedback
Different development projects call for different practices – and these determine the type of feedback you need to be delivering to your team. In my experience, responding as soon as possible always works. Switching from one task to another brings extra time and concentration costs to developers so offering feedback promptly you’ll be avoiding that risk.
When giving feedback to tasks that were completed, keep it short and avoid jumping into irrelevant discussions that might be confusing for the developers and leave them not knowing whether anything needs to be changed.
If you thought developing a process means wasting time on useless, bureaucratic activities, this article should convince you that this is far from reality. Without a robust process in place, your organization will struggle to keep up with its own growth.
Consider your current process and use these 7 tips to improve it. If you’d like to learn how Jira Software helps development teams deliver better software faster, get in touch with one of our consultants – they’re always ready to help organizations boost their processes with the help of the Atlassian product suite.