What Makes a Successful Development Team?

software engineering team

Do you want to launch a great software product? You need a great software development team. What makes a successful development team? Focus on the following:

1. Organizational culture

You can have a successful software development team only if you have the right culture in your larger organization. Work on the following in your larger organization:

  • Ethics: Your organization needs a sound ethical foundation to succeed.
  • A proactive approach: Markets and technologies change. Organizations must proactively reinvent themselves.
  • An uplifting mission: Your organization should make a positive difference in the world. It should make its customers/stakeholders successful. An uplifting mission inspires team members to give their best.
  • An inspiring vision: You and your team members should be able to visualize a bright future for your organization.
  • Strategy: Your organization should think through the most important objectives.
  • Honest, caring, and open communication: Communication in your organization should be respectful, honest, and transparent.
  • Constructive collaboration: Team members in your organization should work towards shared success. The success of one team shouldn’t be the failure of another team. Teams should collaborate to find solutions that facilitate success for all.
  • Synergy: You need to use the unique strengths of everyone so that your organization wins fair and square.
  • Continuous improvement: Your organization should be always hungry for improvement at every level.

2. Leadership

Competent leadership is a key ingredient for a successful software development team. You need a capable project manager (PM) to lead your team. Look for the following attributes:

  • Educational background: The PM should have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or related fields.
  • PM skills and certifications: Hire a PM with a universally recognized PM certification like PMP (Project Management Professional), CSM (Certified Scrum Master), ACP (Agile Certified Practitioner), etc.
  • PM methodologies: You need a PM with deep knowledge of modern PM methodologies like Agile. The PM should be familiar with appropriate processes, methods, tools, and practices.
  • Relevant experience: You want a PM with experience in managing software development projects. Look for experience in your industry vertical and type of project.
  • Understanding of technology: While PMs don’t code, they need a thorough understanding of technology. Depending on your project, the PM might need to understand niche technologies like blockchain, IoT (Internet of Things), AI (Artificial Intelligence), etc.
  • Leadership: Look for a combination of character and competence. Character is self-explanatory. Competence includes client focus, subject matter experience, communication skills, goal setting, performance management, innovation focus, and related expertise.

3. The right hiring approach

You might wonder how to hire the right people. Hiring from freelance platforms might seem like a sound choice. After all, you can negotiate a low hourly rate on freelance platforms.

Think about project and business requirements thoroughly though. A successful software development team needs all team members to contribute effectively.

Freelancers work part-time on projects, and they might not allocate enough bandwidth to your project. You might find it hard to manage their work. Time zone differences might compound your challenges.

Freelancers also routinely look for higher-paying jobs. They might leave your project mid-way. Freelance platforms don’t provide any management support. They don’t provide replacements, therefore, you need to start the hiring process again.

Your other option is to hire developers from hybrid software development companies like DevTeam.Space. These companies provide full-time developers. Companies like DevTeam.Space follow stringent quality measures. You can expect highly skilled, experienced, and motivated developers from them.

These companies provide project management support. You can get replacement developers from them in the case of turnovers. We recommend you hire from hybrid development companies for complex projects.

4. The right people

Take the following steps to hire the right people for your team:

4a. Create an effective job posting

Write and post an effective job ad. Provide the following:

Company introduction

Describe your company factually, however, make the introduction interesting. Talk about the growth trajectory of the company. Elaborate on the career growth opportunities, professional development opportunities, organizational culture, and work environment. Describe the compensation and benefits policies.

Job description

Describe the kind of projects you execute. Explain how the contribution of the new developers will help your organization. Talk about the collaboration needed between the new and existing team members.

Roles and responsibilities

Describe the job roles and responsibilities of the new developers. Specify responsibilities like understanding requirements, studying technical solutions, coding, testing, etc. Mention other responsibilities like collaboration with testers and DevOps engineers.

Skill requirements

Specify your skill requirements. Depending on your project, these could include the following:

  • Web development: JavaScript, HTML, CSS, ReactJS, Angular, Node.js, etc.;
  • Native Android development: Java or Kotlin;
  • Native iOS development: Swift or Objective-C;
  • Relational databases: MySQL, PostgreSQL, etc.;
  • NoSQL databases: MongoDB, Apache Cassandra, etc.;
  • AI/ML (machine learning) development: Python;
  • Data science: R, MATLAB, SAS, etc.;
  • IoT development: Java, Python, etc.;
  • Blockchain development: Ethereum blockchain, Hyperledger blockchain, etc.;
  • Popular development tools like Android Studio, IntelliJ IDEA, etc.;
  • Knowledge of software architecture;
  • Performance optimization skills;
  • Code review;
  • Testing;
  • DevOps;
  • Software development methodologies like Agile.

Competency requirements

Mention the competencies that you want in new developers, e.g.:

  • Client focus;
  • Passion for excellence;
  • Commitment to project objectives;
  • Communication skills;
  • Problem-solving skills;
  • Teamwork.

4b. Interview the candidates

Take sufficient time to interview the candidates. Focus more on the relevant software development experience than theoretical knowledge. Find out how they handled project complexities.

Ask how the candidates solved problems in projects. Explain your project requirements and ask for specific solutions.

4c. Onboard the people you hire

After you select and hire developers, you need to onboard them effectively. Provide them with the project documentation. Explain the requirements and technical solutions.

Provide access to the technical environment of the project including code repositories and development tools. Introduce the new developers to your larger team. Explain the project milestones. Set up a communication process, and establish accountability.

5. Systems and structures

You can have a successful software development team only if your larger organization provides the necessary organizational environment. Your organization should have the following:

  • A clear organization chart;
  • A transparent system to enforce business ethics;
  • Good systems for teams to get customer feedback;
  • Logical divisions of operational and project responsibilities;
  • Transparent and unbiased hiring systems and processes;
  • Robust performance management processes, methods, and tools;
  • A robust technical environment including the necessary tools;
  • Systems to support the professional development of employees;
  • Transparent and forward-looking systems to foster innovations;
  • Sound operations management processes, methods, and tools;
  • Robust organizational administration systems;
  • A forward-looking HR (human resource) department;
  • Project management systems, methods, processes, and tools;
  • Performance-oriented rewards and recognition policies;
  • Industry-standard compensation and benefits policies;
  • A comprehensive information security management system;
  • Mature employee onboarding and offboarding processes.

6. Planning

The PM in your team should prepare an effective project plan. You need the involvement of the entire team in this process. The PM needs to gather input from all team members. The project plan needs review, approval, and change management.

The PM should cover the following areas while planning the project:

  • Requirements management;
  • Software architecture;
  • The software development approach;
  • User interface design;
  • Front-end development;
  • API development;
  • Back-end development;
  • Application security;
  • Reviews;
  • Testing;
  • Continuous integration (CI)/continuous delivery (CD).

You need a detailed project plan that includes the relevant aspects, e.g.:

  • Tasks;
  • Dependencies;
  • Schedule;
  • Resource loading;
  • Technical environment management;
  • Communications management;
  • Quality management.

7. The right technology stack, development tools, testing tools, and DevOps tools

Your software development team will succeed if you make the right technology-related decisions. Technology-related decisions driven by whims and fancies can result in failure.

You need to make decisions regarding the technology stack and tools based on sound assessments. Proactively seek out inputs from the team and conduct brainstorming sessions.

Consider the following examples:

  • If you are developing an iOS app of strategic importance, then you should use Swift. Objective-C is the other option for native iOS development. However, Swift is a more modern and future-oriented language than Objective-C.
  • Are you exploring the microservice architecture pattern? Use it only if you can clearly define independent microservices.
  • Do you want to use cloud computing, however, do you have workloads that require high security? Consider hybrid cloud over public cloud.
  • Can an open-source test automation framework like Selenium meet your testing requirements? Look for additional tools if an open-source framework can’t scale up to your requirements.

8. Team environment

We talked about the larger organizational culture and work environment, and we specified what the organization should provide. However, the team should internally build a success-oriented culture.

The PM should work with the team to achieve the following:

  • Focus on the success of the clients;
  • Clear division of responsibilities among different roles like business analysts, UI designers, developers, testers, and DevOps engineers;
  • Establishing a code of conduct and adhering to it;
  • Building trust within the team;
  • Clarity over the mission, vision, and strategy of the organization;
  • A clear understanding of the project objectives;
  • Clarity over the workstreams and deliverables;
  • Understanding of the project schedule, budget, and quality requirements;
  • Accountability;
  • Smooth delivery of work products;
  • Course corrections when required;
  • Maturing of the team through the various team development phases;
  • Honest, caring, and open communication;
  • Criticism of ideas and deliverables instead of finding fault with people;
  • Teamwork and collaboration;
  • Continuous development of skills and competencies;
  • Continuous improvement;
  • Innovation focus;
  • Empowerment of every team member;
  • Unbiased and constructive resolution of conflicts;
  • Healthy and constructive work environment;
  • Rewarding team members for key achievements.

9. Tracking progress

A successful software development team consistently tracks its progress. Do the following to ensure this:

  • Decide on the important metrics to track. For example, you can track metrics like sprint burndown, agile velocity, lead time, cycle time, code coverage, cumulative flow, failed deployments, and escaped defects in an agile development project.
  • Implement a robust measurement process and tools.
  • Review the metrics at regular intervals. Don’t keep the metrics hidden from your team! Metrics aren’t for the management team only, and the entire team needs to know the project’s health.
  • Take corrective and preventive actions based on the review.
  • Implement a “lessons-learned” process so that the team learns from the corrective and preventive actions.

10. Celebrating the small wins

You should celebrate successes in your team. This improves the team morale significantly. Do the following:

  • Celebrate every small win. Raise the standards in your team gradually. A small win in the future will deliver greater value than a small win today.
  • Appreciate the team or individual members publicly. Make the appreciation visible.
  • Praise the team or individual team members for specific achievements.
  • You should appreciate small wins genuinely and warmly. The team should see your sincerity.
  • Appreciate your team members as quickly as you can.
  • If you are a co-located team, then appreciate your team members in person.
  • Foster a team environment where other team members feel genuinely happy when one team member succeeds. You can do that with unbiased honesty in your appreciation. Other team members can then expect to get the same warmth when they succeed.

11. Risks and issues management

Do the following when managing risks and issues:

  • Identify and mitigate risks proactively.
  • Involve the team in resolving issues.
  • Identify backups for critical resources in the team.
  • Resolve project problems systematically and take an objective view. Don’t resort to knee-jerk reactions like adding more developers since such approaches don’t work. Analyze the problem. Identify the underlying root causes and resolve them.

Trying to form a successful development team? Contact DevTeam.Space to hire competent developers.


1. Should I look for field expert developers or freelancers to build an effective team?

Freelancers work part-time, and they work on multiple projects simultaneously. You might not get enough contribution from them. Field expert developers work full-time on your project. Choose dedicated developers over freelancers to build an effective team.

2. Where can I find interview questions to hire developers?

You can find interview questions on the Internet. DevTeam.Space has comprehensive sets of interview questions. Review our interview questions for Java, Swift, JavaScript, Node.js, ReactJS, Angular, and SQL.

3. Where can I get developers with agile project delivery experience?

You can get software developers with agile development experience from DevTeam.Space.

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