min read ·
October 5, 2022

5 Habits of Highly Effective Software Delivery Teams

Lead Consultant

Abhijeet Kesarkar

Abhijeet has expertise in agile software delivery of large scale distributed business transformation projects. He drives innovation and quality by focusing on strong development practices.

On average, only one in ten software engineers in Australia releases software daily. While software delivery teams are constantly under pressure from the business to deliver high-quality software within a short time, they also end up dealing with a different kind of pressure rooted in constantly changing coding practices, programming frameworks, and code management.

Software companies depend on these delivery teams to acquire new customers, retain existing customers, fulfil contracts, and stay relevant in the market. Fabric delivery teams understand these challenges and try to delight users and help our customers meet their goals by delivering new valuable software daily. So, let’s explore the five habits of highly effective software delivery teams that allow them continuously deliver value for the business.

1. Uses Functional Communication

Image: The Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) lifecycle is a people-oriented approach to collaborative work. Credit : PMI.

Effective communication builds trust in the team and encourages them to improve their work quality. Yet, 86% of executives and employees believe the leading cause of workplace failures is the lack of effective communication and collaboration.

As a result, top-performing software delivery teams adopt various agile frameworks to foster communication and collaboration, such as scrum, SAFe, LeSS, Kanban, and extreme programming.

One of the important aspects of communicating with business stakeholders is building a common product vision.

The Product Vision

This image shows the process of co-creating the product vision with your team. Credit : PMI.

Your product vision should communicate the long-term benefits and outcomes you want for your product. Plus, your customers and team members should see how your product will affect them now and in the future.

Some of the questions to help you co-create this vision include:

  • What pain points will the product address?
  • What features do you intend to build into the product?
  • What emotional reaction do you want the product to evoke in users each time you update the features?
  • What challenges do you foresee for the product in the market?

The Product Roadmap

Your roadmap should help your team, customer and investors visualize how you plan to achieve your product vision. They also show your priorities and timelines.

After setting your key milestones, your roadmap shows the connection between these milestones and the tasks to achieve them. It also details the steps you’ll take to achieve that.

The Product Backlog

Your development team needs a well-prioritized agile backlog for better iteration and release planning. This list uses your roadmap's information to detail all the work your team will be doing.

It starts with the most important item to show the team what to deliver first.

At the same time, communication within the development team is crucial to maintain quality.

So, what are some of the key practices that foster better communication within the development team?

  • Pair Programming
  • Dev Huddles
  • Peer Feedback

Let’s look at all three communication boosters a little closer.

Pair Programming

Pair programming is an agile process for software product development or project management where two programmers collaborate at a workstation. This practice involves two roles:

  • Driver
  • Observer

The driver writes codes, and the observer reviews the codes. The programmers would switch roles at intervals.

This programming practice puts collaboration and communication at the heart of your software delivery efforts. Apart from speeding up your delivery time by offering instant feedback loops, it also improves code quality and boosts team cohesion.

Developers who adopt pair programming must communicate, plan and discuss the project, fostering better team cohesion. Other benefits of peer programming include:

  • Increased team discipline
  • Improved codes
  • Manage disagreements better
  • A sense of collective ownership of codes
  • Easy knowledge sharing and transfer

Developer Huddles

Developer huddles are recurring developer team meetings for discussing technology stack issues of a project, including code conventions, design, and architecture.

This communication enabler can help you:

  • Boost team alignment.
  • Encourage debate and contributions.
  • Support experimentation.

Peer Feedback

Peer feedback is just that—getting feedback from peers. Highly effective software delivery teams seek and offer feedback to their peers.

Top performers don’t leave blurry feedback, though. Instead, they ensure their peers get very specific, useful, and constructive assessments.

So you want to embrace and encourage clear feedback among team members.

Set Communication Guidelines for Your Teams

To ensure effective communication, you must set strategic guidelines for your team. First, break down your roadmaps into tasks that show the requirements and user stories. Then, turn these user stories into a single list for your team to get to work.

Use Burndown Charts for Sprints

Use a daily burndown chart to monitor the progress of your Sprints. It allows you to show your team the scope of your project. Plus, you’ll get a visual representation of the completed and remaining tasks against your set time.

Practice Stand-Ups With Your Team

Another way to monitor the progress of delivery is to practice Stand-ups. They’re short meetings, usually 15 minutes, where you can discuss the progress of work, short-term plans, and any issues blocking the delivery of the product.

2. Practices Business-Focused Team Engagement

Focus on what matters most to the business. Then, build a culture that engages your team and makes them commit to delivering results based on those business goals. According to IBM, 72% of employees don’t have a clear understanding of what their companies’ strategies are.

Make it engaging by using the Kanban project management system. This method is flexible and adapts to your existing team structure and roles.

Programs go haywire because teams start taking on requirements not aligned with their original goal. Business-focused team management ensures that every ounce of effort that the team puts in is 100% aligned with their minimum viable product (MVP).

  • Focus on the minimum viable product.
  • Cut any excesses and prioritize your time and resources.
  • Emphasize essential over nonessential functionalities.

Prioritize during Backlog Grooming

Backlog grooming is used to prepare stories for the upcoming sprints. But use it as a tool to also prioritize and skim through the backlog to remove unnecessary stories, to avoid making the backlog a never ceasing black hole.

Use Showcases

Agile teams use showcases to display completed work to product owners, investors, and other stakeholders. The environment is usually informal, making it easy to show finished work and the progress of unfinished work. In addition, these showcases promote feedback, inspections, and adjustments where needed. Ensure that the end users are engaged and their feedback considered. Seeing the feedback being incorporated makes users feel valued, and more involved in improving the product.

Use business language throughout

Having the Product, Business, QAs and Developers speak common business vocabulary that also manifests in the application design and code is useful in making design decisions that align with the long term business roadmap. It also helps with long term application maintenance. 

Use Visuals

Using cards and boards to visualize workflow allows the team to see the progress of each task. It also points out the hurdles in the delivery cycle. Use creative ways to incorporate how different business functions get depicted - e.g. different color cards for different epics indicating a business functionality.

Implement Short Feedback Loops

Feedback is vital for determining what works and needs improvement in your digital product and business. Encourage all delivery team members to participate and share their opinions at daily meetings, reports, or review stages. Let them suggest ways to improve the product they are developing.

Set Up Retro

The Agile sprint retrospective is essential for managing, developing, and delivering complex projects. They’re short meetings to discuss the overall workflow enhancement between the end of a sprint and the beginning of the next. 

When you meet with your team, discuss what went well in the previous Sprint and what needs improvement in the next one. That way, the new Sprint is better than the last.

Focus on the Flow

The work becomes more predictable when your team understands the importance of moving quickly through each stage. Measure performance and progress and be open to making changes when you agree on better options.

3. Encourages Fearless But Guided Experimentation

Effective software delivery teams encourage the use of iterative development. Top software delivery teams focus on practical problem-solving, so they’re not afraid to venture into new paths.

So these leaders are open to trying out new things. They are willing to chart new directions; if the thing don't work, they are ready to pivot and commit to a new path.

When building software, you want to work on some unconventional ideas and get some proof of concept as you work on them. Of course, the risk is that things might not work out, but they might have an outsized payoff if they do.

For example, your development team might try a new library to boost productivity.

Typically you would keep to your current course or trajectory. Experimentation helps you validate if that trajectory is still the best or if there are better ways of the same thing to improve efficiency and outcomes.

Let’s consider a few examples.

Halved Processing Time for Accounts Payable Process

Fabric worked with Smith Street Pizza in its digital transformation to implement a fully paperless accounts payable system to lower cycle times and streamline processes.

The process started with a discovery workshop to understand the current paper-based accounts payable process and work with all stakeholders to design a new digital approach. 

Fabric’s technical team worked with the client’s digital architecture team to implement multiple system changes and integrations.

The teams adopted iterative product development and an agile approach that tested and verified functionality during development. This method lowered costs and caught issues early in the development process.


  • Lowered the cycle time for processing accounts payable
  • Lowered risk of errors in tax payments and invoices
  • Improved vendor satisfaction
  • Higher employee engagement
  • Lower cost of system upgrades

Simplified Complex Self-Insurance Processes, Eliminated Compliance Risks, and Lowered Time Costs from Days to Minutes 

John Holland Group relied on Fabric to transform its self-insurance application process. Having tried several off-the-shelf software programs that fell short of helping them achieve their digital transformation goals, John Holland Group turned to Fabric for solutions.

Before using Fabric, the client had used workarounds to navigate customization issues because their softer vendor would only apply customization requests bi-annually.

This client needed a solution that aligned with their unique approach. In addition, they wanted a reliable, streamlined, and resilient solution that helped them meet legislative and business changes on time.

Fabric coordinated a three-week consultative discovery meeting with subject matter experts and product owners.

During that time, Fabric was able to:

  • Adopted user journey mapping methods to identify the client’s unique process requirements 
  • Set product expectations
  • Formed an aligned vision with all stakeholders

The outcome of this discovery process was a clearly defined and evaluated minimum viable product (MVP) ready to transition to a low-fidelity prototype. At this point, all stakeholders reviewed, validated, and agreed on feature designs before coding started.

With a tests-driven delivery approach, Fabric wrote tests sooner to take care of steps that would have been missed in the development process.


  • Drove down three-day processes to minutes
  • Reduced 19 complex calculations to one step
  • Saved money and time by reducing training time from days to four hours
  • Completed insurance claim processes in seconds and reclaimed lost work hours
  • Completed features and enhancements deployment multiple times a day and in two hours instead of one year
  • Access to a flexible, performant modern insurance application that’s become the organization’s benchmark for future developments 

4. Maintains a Strong Development Culture

Winning software delivery teams are proactive and take the initiative. They structure their delivery systems to serve ongoing business objectives.

These teams often use different practices that improve the quality and responsiveness of software to the customer’s changing needs. According to 65% of developers, changing demands delay code release more than anything else.

Image credit, SmartBear. The State of Code Review 2020 Report.

As a result, top teams maintain a culture of using short development cycles with frequent releases. This culture allows them to test different approaches and identify the best ways to collaborate on their codes.

These teams develop the culture of writing quality code by using these practices:

Conduct Code Reviews Using Refactoring

Code refactoring helps fix issues that arise when you have code contributions from multiple team members. The refactoring process cleans up and standardizes incorrect, repetitive, or untidy code.

And this is becoming standard practice across developer circles. For example, in the SmartBear software developers study I cited earlier, 59% of respondents use code reviews for onboarding new developers.

The report also showed that developers ranked code review as their top method for improving code quality.


Automate your infrastructure using the continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline.

CI/CD pipelines are steps you follow to deliver new and improved software versions. Developers use this process to improve their software delivery using automation throughout the development lifecycle.

Organizations that automate their continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline that is:

  • Development
  • Testing
  • Production
  • Monitoring 

And continue throughout a software development lifecycle, usually delivering better quality code faster. This peer programming practice also helps teams go to production as quickly as possible to deliver their MVP.

A sound development culture gives you some predictability in your development cycle and process and helps you produce top-quality software products consistently.

5. Automates Repetitive Tasks and Uses Lean Methodologies

People often identify the similarities of the Lean and Agile methodologies rather than their differences. Hence, they usually refer to it as Lean-Agile.

Although the Lean method is one of the Agile frameworks, both processes have subtle differences. For example, Lean focuses on processes, while Agile deals with the products.

The Lean software development concept emphasizes minimizing waste and optimizing efficiency in your processes.

To successfully implement the lean project management concept, consider doing the following.

Identify Value

You can break down any complex project into smaller tasks to better understand the workflow. This shows you tasks you must eliminate to ensure that only valuable ones remain.

Reduce waste

Eliminate tasks, documentation, or meetings that don’t add value to your product development. That way, your software delivery team gets your direction and values.

Start Building Software Development Teams that Work

Highly effective software delivery teams maintain a strong commitment to software development best practices. Consequently, they develop multiple skills and are programming language polyglots.

They also have valuable interpersonal skills. So they communicate effectively and welcome feedback.

You have your bases covered with the ideas I’ve shared in this post. So it’s time to start building your dream software, delivery team.


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