How to fire up your dev team efficiency

A developer’s time isn’t cheap and that’s why it’s good to implement the best practices in IT companies to ensure that team productivity increases. Today, especially in the remote times, firing up the team efficiency could be hard - but we have some ideas that can help you.

1. Provide a distraction-free environment

Easy to say, right? Programming requires intense concentration and your devs require a comfortable environment. Some of them need quiet - and the lack of it creates the biggest frustration you can imagine. Unfortunately, the headphones don't solve the problem completely. It’s important to provide access to some quiet room allowing your devs to work in silence and focus completely on the task.

But what if you have a remote team? It’s obviously harder - because you don’t have control over their workplace and the distractions they may face. Help them with everything they need - headphones, an additional screen, comfortable chair or extra light - it’s not a huge investment and it  can pay off. Remember that it can take up to 25 minutes to become focused again. Calculate how much money you waste just because your dev is distracted even once a day and compare it with the cost of a solution that will help them stay focused (e.g. superb quality headphones) does it look this much now?

On the other hand, most devs appreciate if they can choose how they can work. If they feel more productive at night - why not allow them to work this way? Set up some rules to maintain good communication in the team but allow work whenever they want.

2. Developers should be assigned to projects according to their interests and technology.

One of the most common reasons for a software engineer  to change work is that they don’t feel they  are developing their skills in the project. Give them a change to take on a new challenge or increase their duties. Imagine that one of your team members wants to take the role of the team leader. If there is no better “option” allow him to do it - he will be more productive and more committed to the project.

Know your team members’ interests and hobbies. If they can work on a project connected with their interests they will provide more understanding and will be more passionate about it. They can work even more effectively than their more experienced colleagues.

3. Offer continuous training

Give your team a change to learn. And I mean not only skills that can benefit a company at the moment. Weekly English lessons are always a good idea - who knows if your next project will not require constant communication with native speakers. The same applied to technology courses - every new technology expands the horizons. New mindset and new perspectives can only benefit the team members - even if they won’t use the technology in the current project.

Provide a budget for the personal development -and let them know that they can always suggest   trainings they are interested in, not just participate in the ones that you think will be beneficial.

4. Less meetings and unnecessary tasks

You will surely agree  that meetings often take more time than was booked in the calendar. You need to prepare for it, make notes during the meeting and prepare a summary   you will share with all the participants. . In the end, a planned 30-minute meeting often takes you double the time ! Talk with your team and find out where you are losing some valuable hours - this will enable you to eliminate that wasted time.

Is your last meeting, report or email really necessary? Is everyone at the meeting really needed there? Think about it before sending out the next invite. Let your programmers work on writing code, let your QA  work on the quality of the product. Reduce unnecessary meetings to an absolute minimum and try to calculate how much time of the entire team you save every sprint. Some meetings are crucial but make them more effective:

  • Always prepare an agenda - and make it short
  • Set a time limit
  • Do not forget about the agenda

5. Set clear expectations

Once the meeting is over make sure that everyone knows what they will do next.

Let them know what are the goals for the current scope. Do not distract them with loads of small, low priority tasks. Sometimes it’s inevitable - but if possible think big and aim higher - devs love to focus on one thing at a time rather than multitask.

You’ve hired smart and talented people - so let them get the job done as expected.

6. Work on team productivity, not on reporting the productivity

If you decide to reduce the number of meetings - you still have to maintain smooth flow of information within the team. It is one of the best ways to keep high team performance.

Instead of emails (which take a huge part of any employee’s time), use for example Slack, which can be easily integrated with Jira, Github or Google Drive. Almost every tool that is needed can be integrated with it. You created a new doc in Google Drive and want it to share with your team? With Slack they will receive notification about it - so no need to double check the email.. Of course, there are other tools that can improve productivity - but first start from reducing the number of elements that every worker (and programmer too) has to check on their daily basis.

We use Jira to monitor the progress of tasks. First of all, check the status of the task on Jira Board (or any other issue tracker of your choice) and after that, if any more clarification is needed,  ask the team or the responsible person. Remember to not distract the developer unless it’s absolutely necessary.

7. Give your  developers a sense of ownership

Help your team  feel like they are creating their own project. Allow them to become more than just a task robot. Give them a room to share their ideas and to suggest improvements to the project. Find some time for  team building. Some teams like to come up with their own team name and logo. The team will be more keen  to cooperate with each other and will be more effective.


Scrum Values

Remember: if you want to fire up the efficiency of your dev team, at the beginning think what you can do for them. Reduce the number and the duration of the meetings, omit distractions and let them  focus entirely on the project. Remember the 5 scrum values: Courage, focus, commitment, respect and openness. Make sure that your team understands these values and just let  them  work on their tasks!