Zen of Team Handling for Software Projects

Creating software is a team sport. And teams need to be led and managed. Here are some of the tips to handle the software development teams:

  1. Discuss Important stuff first. Unimportant talks don’t serve project goals even though they are interesting so minimize them.
  2. Educate the team about the significance of Work Breakdown Sheet (WBS).
  3. Establish a clear + transparent accountability framework where each team member is accountable to the task he has chosen to work on and the project manager is accountable for the project’s scope delivery.
  4. Celebrate small wins. If a team member performs well, reward him/her as soon as you can.
  5. Negotiate and set realistic deadlines with specific acceptance criteria and make sure that the work is delivered within the deadline. Missing a deadline should be an important retrospective event.
  6. Instead of a percentage, communicate in specifics. A lot of managers have a habit of asking how much percent of work is complete. Asking for specific pending items and the anticipated time required are good indicators of project progress.
  7. Have a “Report Manual” place where each field of all the reports is explained. Ask every team member to go through it and understand thoroughly. Reporting is an important operational activity and if the team members understand its application, they perform better.
  8. Abilities, not seniority or position. Task allocation should be done in a way where a capable individual works on the right task. Seniority or position should not come in a way. It’s worth giving juniors an important task if they are a better/right fit.
  9. Manage the expectations of the team and clients. Better the expectation management, lesser the escalations.
  10. Make sure that every important project stakeholder is well informed with project status reports, concerns and early wins. The list should include team member’s bosses if you work in a functional organization.
  11. Do exactly what you say you would do – Exhibit genuine integrity to build a rapport based on trust.
  12. Every week, ask team members about 3 major problems that they are facing – do everything possible to eliminate those problems.
  13. Evaluate every team member’s belief in the project’s success. If they believe they will make the project successful then their energy level will change.
  14. Overcommunicate! When you think, you have communicated enough, communicate once more.
  15. Own the mistakes made by the team and give them the second chance of course with more awareness and more specific expectations.

Developing software is as much as art as it is science and handling a software team is no different!