Software development is fundamentally a collaborative exercise.
Even in the unlikely event you only have a lone developer in your shop, they’ll still need assistance from stakeholders, QAs and UX teams to ship an application.
As a result, it’s vital you understand the extent to which your software shop collaborates, what processes and tools are in place to help them do so, and exactly who needs to collaborate with whom.
The way to do so is through a DevOps assessment. In this article, we look at:
- What collaboration means from a software development perspective.
- Why collaboration is essential to develop great software.
- How your team should collaborate effectively.
Why Is Collaboration Important in Software Development?
In a software development setting, collaboration encompasses the tools and processes teams use to communicate throughout the entire project lifecycle.
This is pivotal to your success. “Software engineering is a complicated team sport that requires highly skilled individuals to communicate frequently and precisely,” says Bill Clerici, Kingsmen Software CEO and partner.
Strong collaboration creates the kind of open environment that’s necessary for building applications quickly while meeting stakeholder goals.
The vast majority of tech leaders believe collaboration is vital to the success of a project, too.
In a 2021 study by Forrester Consulting commissioned by Atlassian, 83 percent of leaders said cross-functional collaboration is crucial for software development. However, just over half said they had the right tools and processes to foster an environment of free-flowing information.
Collaboration also plays an important role in other aspects of software development, like traceability and visibility, says the team at SodiusWillert.
“Without collaboration, it’s also hard to track the progress of development tasks/projects. You have to personally ask every developer for updates; you can’t just log on to a tool and see the status of every task there,” they write.
“However, if managers/stakeholders do have visibility into project progress, they have a chance at optimizing development delivery. For example, they can assign high-priority tasks to certain developers, or reassign tasks that haven’t been completed in a long time.”
What Does Good Collaboration Look Like?
If you want to improve your team’s collaboration practices, focus on the following three areas:
Your team members’ preferred ways to collaborate and communicate should trump specific tools. It’s not just developers who should be part of the conversation, either. Managers and company leaders should also participate in and support collaboration efforts.
Collaboration and communication need processes too, says Bill Clerici. Start from agreed upon workflows, tweak as needed, and document those changes.
“When a team commits to documenting everything from workflows and tools to communication processes and branching strategies, they cultivate an environment that encourages team members to seek answers and commit to company-wide procedures,” the team at GitLab writes.
“Writing down decisions, processes, and proposals ensures visibility and helps preserve conversations for future reflection, allowing team members to refer back to information at a specific point in time.”
Tools aren’t as important as people or processes when it comes to collaboration. Teams should use the tools that work for them.
But there is one tool every team should use to improve collaboration, regardless of their personal preferences: a wiki. A wiki is the only way to lower the risk of brain drain when an important programmer leaves, Sandra Göğer at Simple Programmer writes.
“Developers can share their knowledge with their peers on the portal, which contributes to easier knowledge discovery and exchange as well as diminishing knowledge gaps.”
How to Assess a Team’s Collaborative Capabilities
A lack of collaboration can impinge on your shop’s ability to ship new applications. That’s why it’s important to understand the collaborative capabilities of your team’s tools, processes and people.
Assessing your software team’s level of collaboration is a key part of our DevOps assessment. We assess the people, processes and tools involved, as discussed above, and identify what’s working well and how your team can improve. It’s an excellent way to understand where development teams stand, whether you’re considering an acquisition or running your own team.
Find out more by speaking to one of our experts today.
Images by: Jason Goodman, airfocus