5 Mistakes to Avoid When Coordinating Expertise in Software Development Teams

A recent meeting with your software development team leaders left you feeling a bit discouraged. You learned that while you have some very talented developers, most of these individuals are specialists. Specialists tend to have a very narrow range of expertise. For you, this scenario results in low skill redundancy and skill gaps that create major challenges for your team. Now, your team leaders are struggling to coordinate expertise, and the few individuals who are more versatile are getting overworked.

Coordinating expertise in software development teams can be a tremendous challenge. The process has many unique facets and moving parts. There are dozens of programming languages and specialties. If you are short-handed as a result of a team member’s retirement, illness or a high work volume, things get even more challenging.

Many companies are left scrambling to coordinate expertise to avoid project delays and budget overruns. These can happen when a firm didn’t have the right talent at the right time. Yet many companies don’t realize this fact until it’s too late. Ultimately, it’s up to hiring managers and company leaders who can ensure a high degree of skill redundancy and versatility. Let’s examine a few of the common mistakes that can impede progress in your tech department.

Mistake #1: Failing to Ensure Redundancy in Workers’ Skill Sets

Skill redundancy is one of the most important factors to consider during the hiring process and when building a software development team. There are many programming languages, skill sets and specialties at play on any given tech team. Therefore, you need to ensure that you have at least one person who has the skills and training required to step in and help if a teammate finds she requires help. Ideally, you should have several individuals who possess a specific skill set.

To avoid problems, it’s useful to make a chart that indicates each and every team member’s skills. Then, hire new, versatile staff with the right skills and architect development teams in a way that ensures a high degree of skill redundancy.

Mistake #2: Ignoring Important Variables

While a chart indicating each team member’s skills and capabilities can be very useful to a hiring manager or a development team leader, it’s critical that you consider some variables that arise in practice. For example, let’s say John is the only person who can fill in for George. But John is also the only person with the skills required to perform his normal duties. He can’t perform his normal tasks and fill in for George simultaneously. So while your staffing situation may look good on paper, with a backup person who can step in to help when George is out sick, real-life variables mean that it’s impractical to use John as a fill-in.

It’s critical that hiring managers and team leaders work together to really understand how the staffing situation will play out in everyday practice, even if a staffing chart seems great in theory. This insight is critical for creating a solid software developer staffing plan and making good staffing and training decisions.

Mistake #3: Ignoring the Need to Cross-Train

You should never find yourself in a position where only one person has the keys to the kingdom. For every position, there should be at least one (and ideally two or more) others who know how to fulfill a particular role. This helps you avoid a situation where a lead developer suddenly quits, taking necessary logins, knowledge and skills with him. You could find that you’re unable to proceed because nobody else has the necessary insight or skills.

Hiring managers should give preference to candidates who have filled multiple roles within the agile development team structure. As a matter of practice, it’s also vital that team leaders set aside time to allow for cross-training.

Mistake #4: Underestimating the Importance of Ongoing Training

Companies often underestimate the benefits of providing staff with new tech training opportunities. Such opportunities not only attract staff who are eager to learn and grow, but also puts you in a much better position in terms of your IT staffing. You’ll have team members with greater versatility, adding more value to your company as a whole.

Of course, ongoing training has another major benefit outside of coordinating expertise in software development teams. The tech field is evolving and expanding rapidly, so by providing your staff with training opportunities, you’ll find it easier to remain on the leading edge of your industry. That’s true whether you have a tech company or a business in another sector.

Mistake #5: Failing to Leverage Temporary Staffing Services

Hiring managers often focus on permanent, long-term hires. In doing so, they fail to realize the critical role of temporary onsite staffing services. Temporary team members (or even entire development teams) can be very effective in filling gaps especially those that arise unexpectedly. It’s often impractical to hire a permanent developer, but a temporary hire can make a lot of sense. They have the right skills and are available precisely when and where you need them.

At iTech, we specialize in temporary onsite staffing services for software developers and IT staff. We also assist by providing consulting services, so we’ll work with your hiring managers to ensure that you have access to the right resources at the right time. We source our talent from across the globe, so you can rest easy knowing you’re getting the best person for the job not just the best local person. If you need help with tech and IT staffing services, contact the team at iTech today.

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