3 Best Practices to Improve Team Communication When Developing New Software

 

You’ve chosen your team and you’re developing exciting new software. But things are going awry. You keep noticing team members arguing with each other and glancing at the clock. So what’s going wrong?

It’s likely a lack of communication.

The importance of soft skills in STEM environments is often overlooked. Yet, it’s one that can impact projects and effective results. Healthy communication and teamwork are vital ingredients in a thriving workplace environment. Without them, projects are likely to fail and end in chaos.

73% of business leaders agree that soft skills are more important than job-specific ones. So why do so many software development projects fail due to bad communication?

Why is good communication important?

Each member of your team is like a cog in your software developing machine. Of course, more complex and diverse than a bunch of cogs, but you get the picture. Each cog needs to understand its role in working alongside all the other cogs. Cogs have emotions too, you know.

Remember, behind every developer is a human being.

Without effective communication, crucial information about requirements, expectations, and problems can slip through the cracks. This leads to more issues arising down the line.

I’ve selected 3 best practice strategies to improve teamwork and keep your team happy as Larry. Exactly who “Larry” is, is still a mystery.

How communication is changing

Today more people work from home than ever. 2020 was the year of companies embracing remote working. As a result, traditional team communication strategies need to adapt to online environments.

For those working from home or co-working spaces, it’s essential to implement flexible practices when communicating, to ensure you remain connected.

Luckily, there’s a variety of tools on the market to make this easy – which brings us right to best practice tip number one:

Create your project management toolkit

83% of professionals rely on technology to collaborate in work environments. 

Digital tools can help your team to collaborate, streamline tasks, and enhance communication.

There’s a huge range of collaboration tools available today that help teams to communicate and stay on top of projects. What’s more, they often reduce the time spent on menial tasks and encourage efficiency.

These tools provide chat, file sharing, code sharing, video solution options, and more. Collaboration tools encourage teamwork, resulting in enhanced workflows, fewer misunderstandings, less rework, and smarter product delivery.

Cloud-based storage systems are useful tools to improve transparency across teams. Use them to store documents, share information, and real-time collaboration. Teams can track progress, collaborate, and check details without having to track someone down. It’s a handy point of reference for everyone.

Consider AI tools to automate routine and repetitive tasks and lighten the load for your team. Using AI has numerous benefits. Automated technology can streamline operations to make life easier for employees. It can also help with analyzing large streams of information, like managing file uploads, transformations and document conversions. This leverages greater productivity and efficiency. Automation tools such as those built into Filestack can create the experience consumers expect with better item data while saving time and resources.

Remember to:

  • Choose tools based on project goals
  • Ensure your team understands how to use each tool
  • Be correct and consistent

Educate your team about communication best practices

Do you hate it when someone sends you a hundred messages explaining something they could say in two minutes over the phone?

Different situations require different methods of communication. Develop a set of communication guidelines so that your team understands when to use each tool and avoid unnecessary conflicts.

On-site communication best practices

Using real-time communication tools across different teams decreases unreliable emails and unwarranted meetings, saving valuable time. What’s more, your team members won’t have to leave their (hopefully) comfy office chairs!

By reducing workplace meetings with digital tools you’ll avoid less productive activities to spend more time on the important ones. Face-to-face meetings are still important but shared documents and mind-map tools can streamline the process significantly.

Remote-working teams

Remote team members are often left out of communication streams, despite playing an integral role in projects. This is counter-productive and unnecessary.

For projects with remotely working team members, a small business VoIP service that combines your messages, videos, and calls into one platform is a must. This saves time otherwise spent switching between email, messaging, and calling apps. Just try not to think about the fact that your teammate is probably video-conferencing in their underwear.

Create an open and honest work environment

33% of employees agree that a lack of open and honest communication has the most impact on employee morale.

So why not be the kind of workplace employees want to get up for in the morning? 

There are a few things you can do to increase team morale and engagement:

Foster an environment that facilitates trust and produces results

Tech teams spend most of the day behind their computer screens. That being said, any work environment needs to be open and honest.

In software development processes, unprecedented issues are just part of the daily grind. If everyone feels comfortable, you can address problems and find solutions together. There are some things you can do to create a trusting and productive team environment:

  • Implement an open-door policy
  • Make management accessible
  • Create an open-plan office environment to boost team morale
  • Hold regular meetings and get-togethers, virtual or in-person

Communicate goals and expectations clearly

Make sure your team members know what they need to do, how they need to do it, and when they need to do it. Clarifying roles and responsibilities improves teamwork, increases efficiency, and helps to avoid miscommunication.

Check-in regularly

It’s important to check in with your team members regularly. This fosters good communication practices and ensures openness. Be sure to communicate in a non-threatening way, and give constructive feedback when needed.

You can even use employee engagement survey questions to measure team morale. You’ll discover what your teams need to achieve higher productivity metrics, better retention rates, and deliver results.

After all, a happy team is a productive one. 

The secret ingredient to great team communication

Now you know that to achieve effective communication in software development teams you need to:

  • Have a functional toolkit equipped with all the necessary project management tools to enhance teamwork and increase productivity
  • Your team needs to know when to use these tools (i.e. a short phone call to explain a concept over a 5 paragraph email)
  • Create a work environment that is open, honest, and pleasant to be in

So is there a secret ingredient to great team communication when developing new software?

Be human.


About the author:

John Allen, Director, Global SEO at RingCentral, a global UCaaS, and VoIP provider. He has over 14 years of experience and an extensive background in building and optimizing digital marketing programs. He has written for websites such as Lucky Orange and Tapfiliate.

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