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