6 Tips to Improve Dev Team Communication
There have never been more communication tools than today. Yet, it seems like we still struggle to communicate enough in some aspects. Developer teams are also facing this challenge, so we decided to talk about how to improve dev team communication.
Internal communication is broken, and many people agree. Queens University conducted a study that showed that 39% of employees think that people from their organizations don’t collaborate enough. Moreover, 3 out of 4 employees believe that collaboration in teams is “very important”.
Lack of communication can be a serious disruptor of everyday work. In order to prevent this, companies have to create mechanisms that overcome communication challenges and prevent them from becoming major problems that affect the entire company’s productivity. Most importantly, they affect communication with customers who won’t have a good experience and will abandon the company.
Why is communication so important?
Although differences will always be present, there’s always a way to improve relations. Bad communication in dev teams can be when the team lead has no clear overview of all tasks, short emails that don’t have clear guidelines, as well as long meetings that could have been an email and too many distractions from colleagues when one has to work on a demanding task. These kinds of situations lead to disrupted information flow and personal conflicts between developers and team leads.
Obviously, communication is essential. Every team has to figure out its best way of communicating. Otherwise, operations will result in lost time and money, delays, bad code and bad products, and unproductive developers.
Here are some tips on how to solve miscommunication in IT projects:
Set clear requirements
You can't make a good project without well-defined guidelines. The developer has to know exactly what’s expected so they can deliver a good result. This is the only way you can improve dev team communication.
Don’t just tell them it has to look like some app the client likes. Be precise and clear. Don’t leave it to their imagination, because developers aren’t here to imagine things.
Developers who know what they are doing will get deep into the idea right away. They’ll start asking questions and create scenarios you haven’t thought of. That’s why you should prepare yourself to explain and make their work easier.
A lack of precise guidelines means a failed project from the very beginning. To be even more certain, put them on paper so you and your developer can remind yourselves every time something becomes unclear. Get as technical as you can, drawing sketches that will lead your developers while working.
Planning is mandatory
Yes, your team is probably agile. That means you are flexible to quickly adapt to changes and you’re not strictly tied to a certain framework.
However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t plan. Maybe your plans shouldn’t be extremely detailed, but they should cover the most important decisions of the project.
Make a plan that represents a framework for all the actions your team members will have to take. This should be the direction everyone should follow while working on a certain project.
But, having a plan doesn’t mean you should leave your developers on their own. Developers will have to make a lot of decisions in the name of the team and will certainly have questions on the way. You should be the one to take responsibility and protect the developers if something goes wrong. Being unavailable all the time makes you a bad and uninterested manager.
Include developers in the planning process
The problem with planning is that usually, business planning comes before development planning. The development efforts are only later adjusted to what the client or the manager needs. This is the wrong approach.
Development and business planning should go together. Development shouldn’t come after all the features and functionalities are well-defined from the business side. The reason for this is that from a developer’s perspective, all these plans might not be executable. For example, some small and unimportant features might take up the most time and effort and make the team inefficient.
That’s why the development team should be included at least in the initial planning, as they can prevent losing time on plans that are too complicated or can’t be executed.
Create a list of used terms
The entire team should know the classes, variables, and the API used during a certain project. Changing them during work is almost impossible. Even if it does happen, new people who come on the project will have a hard time boarding in. That’s all these important dev terms should be defined in the beginning and made available to all the developers.
Create a doc where all the variables, classes, and related terms are listed and explained. You can use a tool like Confluence and share it with every team member so they can have access whenever they need it. Improve dev team communication with a clear set of rules that will allow no confusion.
Use collaboration tools
Use collaboration tools like Jira and Trello, where the entire team can see what their colleagues are working on. Here, you can add all tasks descriptively, with all the resources and important information related to them.
We’re guessing you’re already using Slack as one of your core tools for communication with all team members.
Asana is also a good task management tool, while you can use Calendly to schedule meetings and know when everyone is available.
Transparent software release
Even if you follow all these previous five tips, there’s always the risk of missing out information during software release.
During the software release process, it’s very important that everyone knows what’s going on in the stage, who deployed, where have the changes been made, where are the bugs, etc. That’s why it’s necessary to use a tool that makes all this information available to all the team members.
Microtica automates the entire software delivery process, allowing everyone to see everything that’s happening. Every team member can see what’s on a certain stage — test, or production. Microtica increases visibility and prevents miscommunication, saving developers from having to explain every on-going process to their managers.
There are several important things to remember for better communication between managers and developers:
- Be precise and clear when making requirements.
- Having an agile team doesn’t mean you should completely eliminate planning — create a framework that provides directions for the actions developers will take
- Developers should be included in the planning process in order to provide a realistic image of what can really be created
- Create a list of all the variables, classes, and the API used in the project so that everyone that starts working on the project can handle the code easily
- Use tools that make all the processes visible to every team member
If you want to avoid miscommunication between managers and developers and improve visibility at the same time, Microtica can help you. Find out more here.