We analyze people at every step of our application lifecycle management assessment. Why? Because stakeholders, developers, QAs, and everyone else involved enormously impact the speed and quality of software development.
The actions they take, the processes they implement, the extent to which they communicate with others in the organization — the human aspect of software development is important. Assessing software development teams means assessing the developers themselves.
In this article, we will discuss:
- Why people are at the heart of software development.
- The role of communication in software development.
- How assessing people helps us assess software shops.
People Are Central to the Software Development Process
Human developers remain the driving force behind software development. That’s why the quality of a software team is often dependent on the quality of each team member.
“Great software engineers empowered with authority, information, resources and a compelling mission make great software engineering teams,” writes Freedom Dumlao, CTO at Flexcar. Those developers require a core set of skills to be competent.
“Engineers must have the ability to set their processes, execute independently, retrospect, course correct, lather, rinse and repeat,” Dumlao continues. “We have found that these attributes enable advanced growth of individuals, which leads to great teams.”
Because almost all parts of the software development process — creating and implementing processes, finding and using tools — require human input, good developers also need to be dedicated and diligent.
“As a software developer, you must be dedicated to your tasks and see them through to completion,” says Lokajit Tikayatray, an IT architecture consultant at Dell. “This requires discipline and focus. To be successful in the long run, it’s critical to stick to your commitments and avoid being sidetracked. Doing so builds the necessary trust among your team and leaders.”
Communication Matters as Much as Skill
You can have the most technically gifted developers on the planet at your disposal, but if they can’t communicate with people in the rest of your organization their output isn’t going to be satisfactory.
Technical skills are often prioritized, but soft skills like communication are just as important, says Tanaka Mutakwa, software engineering team lead at Hotjar. “Failures in software teams result more often from communication issues than from technical problems.”
That’s why Cordenne Brewster, content manager at Trio, recommends evaluating soft skills when making a new hire. “During the hiring process, you should look out for soft skills and a cultural fit. Emotional intelligence is key to a collaborative project. True cohesion is built on relatability and communication.”
She even goes as far as saying to prioritize soft skills. “It’s easy to place too much focus on technical output at the cost of team-building and communication when managing a software development team,” Brewster writes.
How People Help Us in Our Assessments
“One of the first things we do when assessing a software shop is interview stakeholders from both the business and technology teams, at all hierarchical levels,” says Kingsmen Software CEO and partner Bill Clerici. We’ll carry out interviews around all of the 11 areas of our application lifecycle management assessment so we know who does what, which processes they follow, and which tools are used. Our aim is to also understand their ability to collaborate, and unpack each individual’s perception of the goals of the project.
Having a conversation with various stakeholders is an excellent way to learn how a company ships code because it’s quickly clear if have the kind of things we look for in a partner.
If we want to take things further, we can have their developers show us the process flow they use when carrying out specific tasks or ask them for access to things like a code repository. Our stance is that you can’t really understand what you’re getting unless you have people who know what they are talking about dig a little deeper than just asking questions.
You can learn a lot about a software company from the people involved in it, but you can’t learn everything. That’s why companies hire Kingsmen Software to complete a technical due diligence report in the first place.
Images by: Nicole Wolf, Sigmund