A company's success is a sum of many components, including the quality of products or services, their prompt shipment, robust advertisement policies, maintaining a consistent rapport with customers, and a whole series of related factors.

However, all of these might be rendered pointless if there is not a dedicated team of expert employees who can deliver high-quality output and meet clients’ requirements and deadlines. To foster such a team, you need an efficient manager who can unite the efforts of people with various backgrounds, tastes, and working habits, and put them in the frame of mind to tackle the set objectives.

Managers have to have strong people skills (photo: Amy Hirschi, Unsplash)

Managing a team of software engineers is no different in its overall goal – you want to ensure efficient product turnover. Even so, managing software development teams poses as many challenges and obstacles as running a team in any other industry.

Software engineering management: potential pitfalls

Before planning your management strategy for a team of software developers, it’s important to look at some of the challenges you might face.

The spread of team members

Under the umbrella term 'software developers', a whole range of specialists nestle - front-end developers and back-end programmers, designers and sysadmins, QA engineers and DevOps guys, and a lot of others. To gauge the input on the project of each person in this wide group, and identify problem zones, the manager must know at least nuts and bolts of each field, which is quite a challenge for managers who may not come from a technical background.

Opinionated staff

It may well be a stereotype, but software developers are often set in their ways, and believe they have the optimal method of solving a problem. Being aware of this, team managers should find a way to allow the developer a feeling their opinion is being heard, while also integrating them into the wider group’s way of reaching solutions.

People have to feel they're being heard (photo: Austin Distel, Unsplash)

High turnover rate

The modern market is an exceptionally competitive one, so employees are less likely to stay put, with the likelihood they will instead search for better working conditions, a higher salary, and career advancement.

The same is true regarding software engineers who, according to some estimates, tend to only stay with a company for an average of two years. Consequently, managers, who may have to replace a key member of staff after their notice period, need to be prepared to facilitate a smooth knowledge transfer between outgoing and incoming staff.

Shuffling responsibilities

The previous challenge is often exacerbated by the intense dynamism and volatility of the industry. Hence, the manager needs to be able to assign the right tasks to the right people, balancing the workload of the team, top management demands, and client requests. It means delegating the more easily completed assignments to junior staff, while charging seasoned developers with more exacting responsibilities.

Vague requirements

Rules of thumb are scarce in software development. Different engineers may eventually come up with different products which will vary in scalability, stability, and workflows. Good managers should be prepared to deal with such issues, which again are only resolved if the leader has a reasonable understanding of the processes and methods used by their team.

Anticipating and mitigating these risks is only half the manager’s work. The other half consists of building and maintaining an efficient team.

How to manage a software development team: essential guidelines

Here are four key pieces of advice if you want to build a successful team of software developers.

Balance leadership and trust

For any team, a competent leader is crucial. A leader should be someone who keeps an eye on the progress of the project and ensures that it proceeds from one logical stage to the next.

However, it is essential for a manager not to overdo the authority and control. Trust in the team, and you’ll see a boost in team spirit. Inspiring the developers to take initiative, and encouraging project discussions, will ensure team members take ownership of the outcomes of their work, and invest them in every assignment they get.

Streamline work processes

All team members need to be familiarized with routine procedures via a guidebook (or its online counterpart) to make sure all of them are on the same page.

Developers need to be on the same page (photo: Dylan Gillis, Unsplash)

This is essential in order to make team members aware of the management’s expectations, and they need to be kept updated on any changes. Moreover, using assessment metrics, you will be able to gauge your team’s performance and nip any issues in the bud.

Ensure effective communication

A qualified software development team is grounded on high-quality communication in the first place. It is not only about prescribed interaction policies, but also about the ability of the manager to listen and respond.

If some requirements don’t make sense, team members must be sure the manager will take on board their feedback and introduce the necessary adjustments. Besides, modern knowhow offers a set of IT tools that can facilitate project management and communication.

Motivate your team

Promoting growth and encouraging progress are things an effective manager should never forget to do. It’s essential for developers to hone their skills, since the IT field is always changing and requires everyone working within it to be adaptable.

Conclusion

In the software development business, the greatest asset is a qualified staff of professionals. By treating software engineers well and managing them fairly, you'll develop a team that is ready to address any challenge and cope with any assignment on hand.

Talk to the experts in managing software developers, here at Base B.