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IT Management: how to keep your team productive

Improving IT management is one of the great wishes of a technology leader. This is because the more productive and dynamic the workflows, the greater the result at the end of the development sprints. Within teams, implementing the use of performance indicators such as KPIs and NPS are some of the examples of aspects that need to be analyzed in order to find out from your team is being productive enough to achieve the desired results.

If the answer is no, or the return on investment is being very low, there are some attitudes that project leaders can take in order to increase the productivity of your teams.

Thinking of helping you in this moment, we have prepared an article that details what to do on a daily basis to increase the productivity of your development team and improve your IT management. Check it out below.

How to keep my team productive?

Set your goals

One of the main methods to improve IT management and increase the productivity of technology teams is to use intelligent and measurable goals during the execution of the project. This happens because if your professionals have very complex and difficult goals to achieve, they can become discouraged over time. To make it easier in this aspect, create shorter goals and for a shorter space of time, making them incorporated day after day and done in a more agile way, boosting the development of the company little by little.

With the application of these concepts presented previously, it will be possible to follow up on goals in an easier way, besides being able to measure results achieved and build a more productive team.

Provide feedbacks

Another aspect that can be interesting to improve IT management is to perform constant feedbacks. The idea of feedback is that your development team understands where they are getting it right, making mistakes and even how their behavior can be interpreted by other people. This way, a more pleasant climate is created in the work environment because of this more transparent communication and, consequently, increases productivity in the long term.

Within your teams, this practice contributes to the improvement of the teams’ performance, avoids possible noise in the communication and ties possible loose ends. By performing frequent reviews on what is happening and how the team’s work is going, the manager is able to show that he is willing to solve the problems and available to solve doubts, since the human capital of a company is what is most important for the delivery of good results and, consequently, the evolution in the market.

Giving feedback to your IT team should not only happen in the period in which the performance analyses occur, but it is necessary that it is a continuous daily process.

Form coherent teams

Another tip that may have its importance for certain companies is the need to form coherent teams. Knowing how to structure a development team can be one of the main doubts of a technical leader. Due to the work requirements of each sector of a technology team, it is very important that the organization of your squad happens so that the needs found in the production of your product are addressed by the team.

For productivity to be high, your technology team needs to have professionals responsible for different areas, who, together, can complete all the stages present in the backlog. For this reason, when hiring professionals with different profiles and who have a creative, proactive profile and the ability to lead.

Get access to intelligent tools

Knowing which are the main tools of project management can help in a very effective way in the development of your products. The great reason for all this importance is that some existing services currently only tend to contribute to better organization of teams and help priority demands to be delivered more quickly.

These project management tools promise to help internal communication between professionals, whether remote or on-site. During the execution of projects, certain different goals must be met simultaneously. Some examples are: structure the project, increase productivity, simplify communication, ensure that all steps are executed and also store information generated.

Use agile metrics

Within your teams, there are a number of factors that can be measured in order to know whether your team is being productive or not. One of the main and most used ways are the KPIs. This indicator is used to measure the performance of a company’s processes and, with this information, collaborate to achieve its goals.

Through the KPIs, all professionals know and become involved in the goals of the company, in order to align efforts around the strategies established by your managers. Through the results indicated in the KPIs, it is possible to quantify the performance of the company and allows workers to understand how much their activities contribute to the success of these numbers.

In addition, another way to measure is to analyze the level of satisfaction of your customers. In this way, you as a manager are able to check gaps where you need to improve in the development of future products. Another way that can be used is to analyze the NPS (Net Promoter Score).

Being very efficient and simple, NPS is a way to understand if there is loyalty on the part of your IT clients, to the point of recommending the company to other startups. Moreover, analyzing ROI (Return on Investment) is another super important way to know if your investment in certain products are giving the expected financial result.

Throughput: the metric in your project’s flow management

Implementing throughput in your software development team is one way to keep your project production in a more organized way. With the data collection offered by using the metric, the IT team’s technical leadership can analyze how the team’s productivity is doing and help with the project’s production planning even before it starts.

This data also favors the communication with their clients, since knowing the production deadlines in the development sprints, it is possible to better negotiate the delivery date of the product without a code quality deficit. 

To help you better understand what throughput means and how it can help your day to day life, we have produced an article that talks about exactly that. Check below and see how important it is to implement the metric in your company.

What is throughput?

It can also be called average flow rate, throughput is the metric that measures your team’s delivery capacity in a cycle of time. That is, with it you can analyze how many tasks or user stories your team can deliver within a week or during a development sprint, be it weekly, biweekly or monthly.

With this agile metrification, it is possible to verify the average performance of your technology team for new products from the projects that have already been delivered to customers. In addition, it allows you to answer a series of questions that arise before the delivery as:

“In a project with X demands, how long can my team finish it?”, “How many features can we deliver per sprint?”, “My team has a good delivery rhythm?”, “We can accelerate this process even more?”, among many others.

With throughput, every technical project leader can realize the frequency of deliveries and the “capacity” of his team. If we think of a scenario where the team works with user stories of similar size and complexity, it is possible to have predictability of when a feature will be delivered.

To better illustrate how the metric works, we separate a graph that shows a development team with a low trend of deliveries, since there is a very variable number among the sprints. This happens a lot because of bugs that may appear during development, causing them to be thrown to the next sprint and delay the production of what was previously planned. Check out the graph below.

How important is throughput in flow management?

How much your development team can produce in a period of time plays a key role in workflow management. That’s because, having this data in hand, you can see in what time frame the task tends to be performed and how many features can be developed in a given period of time.

Acting together with Kanban and WIP – the acronym for Work in Progress – it is possible to measure with a certain clarity the production time of each development item, and can even serve to reorganize them in a way that is more productive and agile for the team. Moreover, with the data analysis it is possible to see other important aspects such as project reliability and production efficiency, checking where your team demands more time to develop.

Throughput is also important to analyze the categorization of your Kanban activities, so you can see where the team’s effort is being invested. Because the team may be delivering 10 activities per week, but if 8 are bug, surely the customer will not be seeing much value in these deliveries. And, in this case, it is necessary to make an alignment of expectations and understand why so many bugs happen.

What can reduce the delivery rate of my team?

Within the development sprints, some factors can affect the delivery rate of your technology team, being super important that every leader knows how to make the diagnosis. Among the factors that can decrease your team’s throughput is the realization of very long iterations or development sprints, constant change in the project scope, some failure that may occur and delay the product’s progress and even when the Work in Progress limit is not respected.

After making the diagnosis about what is actually delaying the production, being able to correct these problems can make your team increase the delivery rate in a satisfactory way and increase productivity also in other projects.

Conclusion

In this article, I tried to bring to you the concept of throughput, an agile metric that allows you to check if your development team has a regular delivery in your projects. This analysis allows you to answer questions about the development time even before the project starts, since each team has a trend of deliveries per week.

In addition, several decisions of your startup can be made from this data collection, making the throughput essential in every technology team that seeks to remain productive.

What is Agile Software Development?

Knowing what agile software development is can help each and every technical leader to speed up the production of the project with the team. This is because knowing which is the best way to deliver a product can leverage production, as well as offer a better result in the long term.

Very common in the market, the agile methodology gained space within a disputed environment that started to demand more and more that projects were developed quickly. Therefore, each new proposal started to be more well done and tailor-made for each client.

Knowing the importance of agile software development in the execution of a project, we have prepared an article that details the main methodologies, their advantages and when to use them. Check below.

What is agile methodology?

The agile methodology, also called Agile, is nothing more than an alternative to be more productive within project management. The basis of this methodology is the value that the product will provide to the client and the relationship of all people who are involved in the project as customers, developers and so on.

Projects that are managed through the agile methodology are developed through incremental deliveries, this means that in each delivery made to the client, one or more functionalities of the software are developed and not the whole software at once. With this, the work is divided into stages, which after being finalized are sent to the client, and from their feedback, one can improve what has been done and what will be done.

Benefits of Agile Software Development

One of the main benefits of agile software development is the working method, which becomes much more effective and easier to carry out because it is made by software functionality. This methodology presents several advantages within the area of information technology, for example:

Improvements in communication: when the work is divided into stages, this allows the various parts of the software to be tested individually. Thus, it is possible to improve what is needed and the customer’s understanding of your service will facilitate the team’s work.

Teams become more productive: the famous creative blockages, caused by excessive information, too much paperwork and bureaucracy, are avoided by the development of agile software. The team stops worrying about the final service that contains many functionalities and ends up worrying about the functionality that must be delivered in that package, thus becoming more productive.

Definition of goal: with the definition of each stage within the project, reduction of bureaucracy and even the use of an easier language, it ends up being more effective than having a final goal already outlined and fulfill it.

Customer satisfaction: with the use of agile methodology, each piece of your final product is validated with the customer through feedbacks, and thanks to this, the chance of your final product meeting the customer’s needs becomes high, because any errors, changes or improvements that are necessary throughout the project will be made during the process, so that the customer is not frustrated at the end of the process.

Differences between traditional and agile models

During the planning of a software development project, the manager must be concerned with finding a management methodology that is aligned with the demands of this project. This choice helps the company both in the organization and prioritization of activities, as well as team management.

A good methodology improves the care that the team will have with some requirements and ensures that there are less risks in the project. The main software development methodologies are divided into two groups. The traditional and the agile. Knowing the basis of each method is one of the first steps to make a safe choice. If you have difficulties choosing the ideal development methodology, check below some tips to help you!

Traditional Methodologies

In traditional methodologies, the stages are static and because they work with a closed scope, there is little room for change. Delivery is usually made only at the end of the project, so the client takes a little longer to see the results.

One of the most important is the Cascade. In this methodology, we initially try to completely understand what the problem to be solved is, its main requirements and its restrictions; in the sequence, it is necessary to design solutions that meet all the requirements and restrictions. Once this is done, the project implementation begins, and when the entire implementation stage is completed, there is verification with the client that the solution meets the established requirements, also carrying out the delivery of the product.

Another very traditional methodology is Prototyping. It allows the development team to create a prototype application that can take three distinct forms. The first of them is a prototype on paper or even on the computer that shows the interaction between man and machine. The second option is to implement a functionality that is already in the scope of the software to be developed. Finally, there is the possibility of using a ready-made software that has part or all of the desired functionalities. This is the most common way to be adopted in software development.

Agile methodologies

Entering the category of agile software development methodologies, it is more flexible and has a continuous delivery of results. There is a greater contact with the client in search of feedbacks and alignment of expectations. In addition, the steps are smaller, which facilitates the opening for changes.

The main one is SCRUM. This agile framework can help a lot in the organization of your project and also of your team. SCRUM has 3 pillars: transparency, inspection and adaptation. This methodology is very good to help organize the “house”. Teams that are having difficulties in prioritizing their activities, and do not have much regularity in project meetings, can benefit a lot from using scrum. It is also an evolutionary process, which can be improved over time and adapt to what your team needs.

Another interesting methodology used in the development of agile software is Kanban. The idea is that tasks are performed in stages, and on demand, to use resources intelligently, without waste and keeping the workflow running constantly.

From this idea, the Kanban method and its principles were conceived. It has become an important tool that can be used not only as a software development methodology, but also as a manager of your workflow.

Kanban, as well as other agile methodologies, is an evolutionary process. Therefore, you can start with a simple implementation and evolve it over time. If you want to metric your deliveries for example and have more predictability, this methodology can work very well.

Agility beyond software: how to keep your team all agile

Maintaining agility in your software development team is one of the great challenges for project managers. This is because, one of the most efficient ways to fulfill your objectives is to implement agile methodologies in your technology team, increasing the success rate with the customer at the time of the final delivery of the product.

However, there are some actions that can be taken to improve the team’s agility during the project’s progress. Tips like being attentive to communication, knowing how to recognize the work of professionals and even managing your time in meetings can help you in times of stagnation. Because of this, we have prepared an article that details these and other very important tips. Check it out below.

The importance of using agile methodologies

The agile methodology, also called Agile, is nothing more than an alternative to perform functions more quickly within the development of projects. The basis of this methodology is the value that the product will provide to the customer and the relationship of all the people who are involved in the project (customers, developers, …).

The projects that are managed through the agile methodology are developed through incremental deliveries, which means that in each delivery made to the customer, one or more features of the software are developed and not the software all at once. With this, the works are divided into stages, which after being finalized are sent to the client, and based on their feedback, it is possible to improve what has been done and what will be done.

One of the main benefits is related to the working method, which becomes much more effective and easier to be carried out because it is done by software functionality. This methodology has several advantages within the area of ​​information technology. Some that we can mention are related to improved communication, a more assertive definition of the final goal and customer satisfaction, since any errors, changes or improvements that are necessary throughout the project will be made during the process, making the customer don’t get frustrated at the end of it.

What can I do to keep my team agile?

Know how to recognize your team’s work

The first tip on how to keep your team working in an agile way is knowing how to recognize your team’s achievements. The great reason for this is that with the daily recognition of the functions performed, the professional feels much more motivated to continue doing his job more efficiently.

This is what a study by Qualtrics points out. According to the survey, employees who claim that their leaders regularly recognize their work are 5 times more likely to remain working at the company in question.

In addition, monitoring managers in more complicated tasks, in which the developer may have difficulties, brings a feeling of teamwork and does not demotivate him easily.

Avoid expendable meetings

Another attitude that can be taken in order to achieve agility in production is to avoid meetings that could be waived. That way, your development team can focus much more on the project’s progress than requiring extra time in unnecessary meetings. Because of this, present the existing problems in the company in a meeting, seek solutions from your team and define how the steps will be taken to meet these demands.

After that, it is recommended that the next meeting is not scheduled until all problems are resolved. In this way, you prevent the previous issues from going on too long in future meetings.

This can also be objective since many development teams can work in a very close way, further reducing the need to demand time to focus on these meetings. Groups that really work together as teams do not need this since problems are addressed as they arise.

Create opportunities, but don’t delegate them at first

One strategy that can work in your development team is not to assign extra work to the professionals, but to let them call the responsibility to you. Assigning work can generate resentment and discontent among your team’s professionals, in addition to fostering the perception that some receive favorable treatment. So, resist the temptation to assign a project’s progress to your favorite members and who else you can trust.

All of this can greatly compromise your team’s agility. A good solution to this problem is to ask for volunteers in the development of the necessary functions, as this way the professional is even more aware and committed to performing efficiently what was requested.

In addition, team members will remain engaged if they have a chance to differentiate themselves by doing good work, further increasing the strength of your team as a whole. However, if you encounter problems of insecurity of these professionals in calling the responsibility, delegate the functions and follow up closely so that the developer feels that he is working together with the company’s leadership.

Learn to listen and watch your team

Knowing how to listen and observe your technology team can increase the agility of the team as a whole. As in most companies, communication is essential for short and long-term success. The goal is to build trust so that you can keep the team productive, interested and engaged in creating the best possible software, so learn to listen to the negative and positive points that professionals can pass as critical feedback. In addition, some developers may suppress these dissatisfactions and you need to be able to observe when this happens.

Simple and honest approaches work well to keep agile teams focused and effective. You may not always be able to control changes, but these basic techniques will help you as you continue to increase your team’s confidence and productivity.

Learn scrum on the go: Introduction

How to use scrum on the go? And how can we apply it on our work effectively?

If you work with project management or software development, you have certainly heard about Scrum. And probably about some of the famous success cases with your application, like for example, the Spotify storie.

Although we always see the scrum defined as “a simple framework for managing complex projects”. In fact is that it is quite prescriptive, and it takes time for the team to adjust to all of its practices. But we can certainly achieve good results with.

In this article I will talk about the concepts of this framework. This will be the first of a path that I will write, which will go from theory to scrum in practice. Let’s go!

PILLARS 

Transparency

All the time you can and should have access to all information related to the project. The idea is for information to be shared, so that managers, customers and stakeholders can access it at any time.

That is why it is important for the team to define which tools they will use to communicate, and which documents they will generate during the process. Since this is not defined by Scrum, which leaves this part up to its own time, so that you can do the best.

A tool that can help with this, originated from another agile methodology or kanban board. Which can give the answers of how all the tasks of the team are.

Inspection

Both the development of activities and the execution of the process itself can be inspected at any time. The inspection intent is that everyone is always aligned on the project situation. But this inspection should not be excessive in the point of hindering or in the development of activities, or in micro-management as people.


In terms of development there are two events to carry out the inspection part, they are the “Daily Scrum” and the “Sprint Review”. The process, on the other hand, can be inspected during a “Sprint Retrospective”. All of these events will be explained below.

Adaptation

The last pillar, guarantee that the Scrum process will always be adapted when necessary. The same is true for the product guidelines, which have shorter cycles of interaction with the customer, also have the possibility of being adapted more easily.

ROLES 

Product Owner (P.O.)

Responsible for directing the product, it is he who defines which features will be developed. It also prioritizes them for the team. In addition, he must always make it clear what the objectives of that project are and pass the product on to his team.

Scrum Master (S.M.)

It is the team member who must master Scrum practices. Known as a facilitator, he always assists and ensures that the team is performing the process correctly.

Development Team

Is who develops the product in fact, and has the power to decide the best way to do this. In Scrum, the development team has the autonomy to choose how to develop their tasks, to achieve the project’s objectives. The team must be self-organized and multifunctional.

EVENTS

Sprint Planning

At this meeting, the dev team talks about the items in the product backlog and selects what will enter the sprint backlog. Always respecting the prioritization order defined by the P.O.

In addition, the team also takes the opportunity to debate how the demand will be developed, and at that time the P.O. can explain the requirements and objectives of that user story. Thus, the team will be able to have a clearer understanding, and will be able to jointly define the best way to meet the demand.

Daily Scrum

Meeting that must take place daily so that the whole team is aligned on the progress of the project. It should be done with all members standing, as it needs to be something fast, lasting a maximum of 15 minutes.

Usually developers answer 3 questions:

What was done yesterday?

What do you plan to do today?

Was there or is there any impediment?

Sprint Review

Held at the end of every sprint, this meeting serves to assess whether all work items are in accordance with what the customer expects. Here the team presents what was developed for the P.O., and he will rate the delivery.

In this meeting, the participation of product stakeholders is usual. It is also there that we can keep the product backlog updated.

Sprint Retrospective

Held after the review, the retrospective meeting serves for the team to assess how it is working with the framework itself. That is, how they are using the scrum in practice and what the results are.

Some articles talk about raising negative and positive points of the sprint. But I prefer the authors who suggest using the following questions:

What did we do good?

What do we need to improve?

And for everything that needs to be improved, the team must define an action plan.

ARTIFACTS

Product Backlog

List of product features is created, prioritized and maintained by the P.O., used by the team during the sprint planning.

Sprint Backlog

Functionalities selected from the product backlog, by the development team during planning. Ideally, this list of items should be delivered at the end of the sprint.

Incremental Deliveries

At the end of every sprint, the team must increase the product with a functional delivery.

This was the first article on the “Scrum on the go” path. I gave an introduction to the concepts of this framework. In the second article, you can see how the scrum flow works.