Good technical talent is hard to find, especially given how common skills shortages can be in this sector. You certainly don't want to do the work to find and hire software developers who fit into your team well only to lose them because they're burning out. Check out these eight tips for ramping up software development cycles to scale product development or tech outputs without putting the wellness and morale of your team on the line.
1. be clear about specifications and make a plan
Plans are critical to the success of software development projects, and they protect the time and effort of your team.
First, when you know what you need to do and put it down in a clear plan from the very beginning, everyone can work efficiently toward end goals without having to pull back and rework things.
Second, a good plan includes strong boundaries when it comes to scale. If everyone, including outside stakeholders, knows where those lines are, development projects don't keep getting stretched to cover increasing requirements. That reduces unnecessary or unplanned burdens on your team.
2. streamline your systems
The more complex your systems are, the more time people have to spend using them. Simplicity is the best practice when it comes to coding — and honestly, that's true for most processes.
Look at your systems, workflows and processes. Do you see areas where things are more complex or involved than they need to be? Are there processes that go through workflows that don't add value? Is your team doing duplicate work? These are all areas where you can streamline.
3. be strategic when cutting corners
There's a huge difference between finding efficiencies that save you time and money and recklessly cutting corners. Legitimate efficiencies let you work smarter and faster without a negative impact on quality. In fact, the best efficiencies help drive quality because they free your technical staff up to provide it.
Cutting corners, however, can mean taking necessary elements out of the process, removing resources that support quality or creating short-term ‘wins’ that turn out to be long-term losses that your team has to spend time recovering from.
4. troubleshoot and test early
A dev project that doesn't come with some bugs to fix is a unicorn — which is to say, it doesn't exist. Know that your team will need to spend time fixing bugs and reworking code to shore up gaps, attend to glitches and retool for business needs. Ensure you account for that time in your project budgets.
But don't put off those efforts. If you can fix a bug in the process of development, it's usually much easier than waiting until the end product is presented. At that point, what was a small bug might have caused a domino effect that now requires even more time and coding to correct.
5. allow your tech teams to focus
Coding requires time and concentration. Having to break that focus to answer emails or phone calls or handle other tasks can put a serious damper on how productive your teams can be. It can also lead to software developers feeling like they were busy all day but got little accomplished, increasing stress and the potential for burnout.
Block out times in each day when devs work only on coding. Let them put phones and internal chat systems on do-not-disturb. Communicate to other stakeholders and employees that these times are blocked off for coding work, and dev teams will handle other issues and respond to messages at a later time.
6. encourage healthy work-life balance
Replacing people who leave because they're burned out is usually more time-consuming and expensive than simply caring for your existing employees in the first place. Encourage IT pros to find healthy work-life balances that work for each person individually by:
- Being flexible with schedules and remote work arrangements when possible
- Providing time-off benefits and encouraging people to use them regularly
- Investing in wellness programs to support employees who want to eat right, care for their mental health or exercise regularly
- Attending to team culture with policies and activities that facilitate positive engagement and working together
7. increase your team size
At some point, the amount of work expected of your dev team is not going to be possible with your current resources, no matter how efficient you make your processes. You'll need to hire software developers to make it possible to scale up consistently and with quality.
Can one person do the coding work of two people? Maybe, but at what cost? Putting that type of pressure on your dev team has negative consequences. Work-life balance typically gets pushed aside, putting your talent on a collision course with burnout. Plus, when people are doing that much extra work, quality suffers, leading to problems with the product or the need to go back and do even more work later to address issues.
Consider whether you need to hire software developers to get more done. If you do decide to hire IT professionals, remember that experience and knowledge are factors in how much a person can reasonably handle and what type of work they can do. Take time to understand what your team truly needs so you can hire strategically; for example, hiring one senior dev may be more cost-efficient than hiring two juniors.
8. upskill existing employees
In some cases, you're simply not ready to hire software engineers or developers. It might not be in your budget, or you may not have the leadership team in place yet to support more employees effectively. For whatever reason, if hiring needs to get placed on the back burner, consider whether you can upskill existing employees by:
- Investing in new programs or other resources to help them do their jobs
- Offering lunch-and-learn or other internal workshops for training
- Paying for continuing education, including college classes or industry seminars
partner with randstad to expand your IT team
If you're ready to expand your dev team, but you're not sure where to start or are struggling to find talent with the right qualifications, Randstad can help. Consider starting with our guide to hiring the best software developers.