Regardless of how innovative your idea may be, building and managing a cohesive tech team for your startup lays down the stepping stone to success.
In fact, 23% of failed startups name a poorly constituted team as the main reason why they did not take off.
At Codesphere, we’re trying to provide a much simpler experience compared to today’s cloud providers and Kubernetes, while giving the opportunity to ad-hoc code directly in the browser.
In doing so, we have learned a lot about team building and its strategies that can benefit your company in the years to come.
Here are our five tips for managing your development team.
1. Responsibility is a two-way street
Part of the reason many developers choose to work at Startups in the first place is the ability to feel a sense of ownership over the software they are building; They don’t want to be micromanaged. Just as importantly, you, as a founder, do not have the time to micromanage them. A strong founder is therefore an expert at delegating responsibility and instilling a sense of ownership in their development team.
While giving developers this kind of discretion might be scary at first, it ultimately serves to improve the development process. When a developer is given true responsibility, not just for their immediate tasks, but also for the outcome of a particular feature, they have a direct stake in what they create. If done correctly, a developer will not just be building the software for someone else, they will build it with genuine passion and care. The more responsibility you give to a developer, the more responsibility will be returned.
2. The user is the boss, not you
For almost every software project, there is a surplus of work to be done and only a set amount of time and resources to spend on this work.
A strong founder, therefore, is an expert at prioritizing development tasks. While you should always try to allow developers to work on features that they are passionate about, the work that your team spends time on should always be dictated by the user.
Are users asking for a particular feature? Is there a bug ruining your user experience? These sorts of questions should guide what development tasks are being prioritized. In addition, creating avenues for your tech team to be in the user’s shoes will allow them to create an end-product that truly provides value to the users.
This can be done in many ways, such as designating time for the team to use the product or bringing user feedback directly to developers.
3. Maintain both a short-term and long-term roadmap for the product — and don’t be afraid to adjust it
When your team can see firsthand how their work fits into important product milestones, not only will they be more motivated to reach those milestones, but they will be able to develop their code in a way that is compatible with current and future features. In addition, tracking what is being worked on, both in the short and long term, is essential in order for your entire startup’s team to work as a cohesive unit.
Just because you are planning ahead, however, does not mean that you should feel locked in to this roadmap. A strong founder is constantly thinking about what their development team should be prioritizing, and that means that sometimes a founder is going to have to adjust this roadmap. When deadlines, markets, and users shift, so too should your roadmap for the product.
4. Implement workflows and frameworks that minimize mistakes and allow you to scale
It is no secret that many developers hate bureaucracy. While your startup may not have the time and resources for project managers and excessive meetings about code standards, a development free for all is going to make you unable to scale and cause you to create software that is prone to bugs. You should implement a workflow from day one to prevent this. Some ways in which we recommend doing this include:
- Pick a tech-stack that minimizes mistakes (We love Typescript at Codesphere!)
- Implement automatic code testing
- Enforce Coding Standards
- Code Reviews
- Require Developers to document their code
- Use Design Documents for features, before, during, and after developing them
- Use project management frameworks and software
- Don’t hire people who are not willing to align with your work standards
- Allow the above processes to evolve and improve when needed
Following these steps allows many bugs to be caught long before they occur, and makes it much easier for your team to go back and work through old code.
5. Promote Collaboration
Finally, programming does not have to be a solo endeavor. Collaboration is an essential part of any startup’s development team.
An extra pair of eyes on any codebase can prevent errors, unreadable code, and inefficiencies. No single developer is going to have all the answers, so creating a culture of collaboration is incredibly important to ensure the success of your team.
Collaboration isn’t just important for the health of your software, it’s important for the health of your team. Having developers work alone on their tasks only exacerbates the stress of working on a startup. Collaboration can provide the much-needed human connection that writing code too often lacks. In fact, this collaboration is so important that it shouldn’t even be restricted to working on the software itself.
At Codesphere, we pair all of our new developers with mentors within the company to help them grow professionally, improve their coding skills, and make sure that they are happy and healthy at the company.