As painful as it may be, it must be said: in the world of software projects, at times, are bound to fail. In fact, according to a study by PMI, over 50% of software projects fail outright.


Despite how commonplace they are, having an unsuccessful project can be embarrassing for developers. This leaves many with a question: who and what is to blame for a project’s ultimate demise?


In some cases, failure only leads to finger-pointing and not much progress is actually made. When your team encounters nonsuccess, instead of identifying “who” and ”what” is to blame, focus on how and why your team was unable to end up with optimum results.


The constant anticipation of failure gives all the more reason to ensure that you and your teamwork as efficiently as possible. Here are the five best ways to build an effective software development team.


1. Get the team structure down

The first step in creating an effective team is making sure that you have the right people working on a given project.


Establishing a clear team structure has all to do with considering the following factors: size, required skills, and project specifics (resources, complexity, deadline, etc.). Ensuring that all these factors are met enables your team to work as efficiently as possible.


While the latter two are self-explanatory, the general consensus on size remains disputed. However, industry professionals using the agile method (to be elaborated on later) agree that 3-9 members is the optimum.


2. Create a conducive, open environment

Communication is key to building any effective team. Teams need to have the support of their project manager, whether it be while troubleshooting code or dealing with personal issues.


Furthermore, in successfully managing a professional team, team members need to trust and respect one another. Should there be past cases of difficulty among some team members, resolve issues as efficiently as possible before starting a new project.


If you are unable to create a new team, everyone must take action to help resolve any conflict. Social tension will only delay you from making true progress.


Once a team feels that they are being cared for, great results are bound to follow. Everyone will be encouraged to strive for value. The team will also be motivated to remain productive, no matter the situation.


3. Have a proactive planning system

Once communication has been taken care of, more effort can be put into the planning process. Setting milestones for each project and delegating tasks ensure that everyone stays on track.


This is much easier to do once communication channels are optimized. However, even then, things can be taken one step further.


Workplaces can be divided into smaller teams to give each member more room to devise his or her own strategy. This also allows for both individual involvement and interdependence.


Furthermore, by taking the project one milestone at a time and dividing members into smaller groups, it becomes easier to retrace steps once an issue arises.


As such, while some think several team-wide meetings are required for a plan to come into fruition, less proves to be better.


4. Use the Agile Method

The agile method is one of the most successful mechanisms in driving development for software project managers. Being agile entails that team members are able to respond to unpredictability in a project.


Scrum is one of the frameworks used by project managers to achieve this. It is essentially a set of guidelines that allows team members to deliver maximum results at a minimum production cost. Large projects are broken into chunks or “sprints” and are adjusted along the way. The project manager acts as the “Scrum Master,” ensuring that the team sticks to the process they have agreed upon.


Each of the many agile methods allows for effective workflow management. That being said, it can be quite difficult for both managers and new team members alike to get used to agile working mechanisms.


For the managers especially, breaking old patterns can prove to be a challenge. The process often becomes rote and connections are established.

However, success in the agile method requires letting go of certain things. Managers must be able to decide which processes can be kept and which are hindering progress.


5. Know how to evaluate

When a project fails, it is easy to either jump the gun or immediately get back to work. However, both of these methods can be very ineffective.


Before acting, take some time to reflect on an interpersonal level. What is your team’s status? How is every individual member progressing? It is easy to overlook the smaller details, but they are especially critical in the software world.


Much like a machine, a single team member is a working component of a greater scheme. As soon as one falls short on his or her end, everyone else is affected. It is easy for these members to lose hope in their work- make sure to give them recognition.


As previously mentioned, encouragement and appraisal directly impact a team member’s ability to contribute to a project. As a manager, you need to be able to both believe your team and let them know that you believe in them.


This goes for everyone. Give the best players their due credit, and let struggling members know that they have people to fall back on.


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