In the course of your career as a software developer, you will experience numerous real-life projects that will show you how developers approach issues, such as team building, skill distribution, decision making, recruiting, and adoption practices. It is obvious that different approaches will lead to different results. If you are an improvement-oriented person, you need to learn the best practices to help you take a step up in your work. It is not easy to learn from observation. It is better to get a book and read. Or better - start with this article, which will show you to develop reliable and sturdy software products which don’t need too much maintenance.
Who is the owner?
Not everything in life revolves around productivity. This philosophy also applies to software projects. There are times no one will judge you based on productivity, and the rules below will not apply in such instances. The techniques below apply mostly to architects, project managers, and team leaders, but any senior software developer will find them useful as well.
Follow these rules to be effective in software production:
1. Appreciate the IT approach
The information technology industry is a perfect blend of business, art, technology, and science. You cannot navigate the wide field if you have not appreciated these basic aspects. The biggest challenge for the industry is that it is complicated, and as a result, best practices get complicated too. If you want to succeed, you can only do so by learning and committing yourself to constant practice. The rate at which IT updates makes it tougher - whatever you mastered ten years ago is no longer relevant and therefore, you need to accelerate your rate of learning. You cannot succeed in IT based on feelings or innate skills; it is only achieved through practice. You can only adopt a new idea by verifying that it has been tried and it worked, and before accepting a given idea makes your programming life easier, you need to interrogate it critically and ask for detailed explanations. Software developers solve various problems in an array of ways. You can’t disregard one idea, but you must have a good grasp of the basics of the solution. If anyone can explain a given concept to a team, and the concept makes work easier, then such a person can lead the team to success.
2. Do not mix software development and software production methodologies
You cannot be a software production guru if you have no idea about software development. The two are different in practices, mindsets, and goals. You are unlikely to find success trying to solve a problem using methods from the other - you need to understand they are different, and try to use different methods in each. Software development is a blend of art and craft. The component of art will never cease to exist, though there are software development methodologies and automation tools out there. If you need to solve a software development problem, you need to concentrate and shield yourself from distractions. An experienced developer finds motivation in tasks in their pure technical form without any human factors. Such a task will have instructions in technical language. The requirements of it should be clear, to give the developer an easy time as they try to navigate towards the solution.
Software production leans more towards business administration. You know the needs of your customer on the one hand, and you have the resources to meet them on the other. Try to direct all your team’s efforts towards the goal. Estimate the speed and present a detailed plan to your supervisor. You need to know what your customer wants, the strengths of your team, and be able to communicate schedules and plans.
Many people in software development can differentiate between software development and software production. Analysts, team leaders, and architects know the time for art or business. If you need more practice on software production related projects, browse through the available projects on Freelancer.
3. Use persistent storage to augment human memory
The human memory has limits despite its amazing capacity. You can remember things accurately, but once you forget something it can be hard to recall. Persistent memory storage is about making use of documents as a memory extension. The documents help you go through the entire software development process easily. Experts recommend that you document your plans and thoughts along the way, in case you have non-trivial tasks or tasks that need more than one member of staff. Make it as cheap as you can. Don’t use documents that have a company logo - a company wiki with your specific project space is the best tool. Ensure that you have dedicated pages for problems or tasks, and update the page whenever a new idea comes up. If you are in a meeting, pause and update any new thing. The writing should be non-extensive, but it should be coherent and complete. Another person should be able to read and understand your thoughts easily.
This technique assures you make progress. It will help you remember details, nor do you need to repeat anything you’ve completed. It also frees up your mind for other challenges along the project.
4. Waste no time in estimating formal time
There are no similar projects. Anytime you get similar projects, you could be dealing with new customers, a new form of technology, a different team, or a new goal. Even if you are using standard components and tools, you will need to customize their architecture and configuration. Software projects are largely custom work. They need discussions, trials, and research. A new project is not easy to estimate at the outset.
If this is the case, how should project managers compile their schedules and stick to them?
Some schools of thought say one can split the entire project into smaller pieces, estimate how long each takes, and calculate total project time by adding them up. It sounds simple, but this method is grossly inaccurate. Project managers should be ready to work with additional estimates by taking note of environment, organization type, resources at hand, and project type. Before you can estimate accurately, you need to have experience in making statistical inferences. Project managers should stop using formal estimate methodologies. Statistical information helps in knowing a project’s duration.
5. Know the cost of juggling priorities and the cost of switching
A developer’s mind is one of the best resources in software development. The human mind is great at generating ideas and solving problems, but idea generation needs the support of further information. Complex algorithms go through simplification, where reformulation or generalization takes place, and the developer removes the unimportant pieces. This makes it easy to solve multiple simple problems, or a narrow complex one.
The ratio is nonlinear. If you increase the number of issues you need to do simultaneously, your problem-solving ability reduces drastically.
The human mind cannot switch tasks speedily as computers do. Whatever you are focusing on takes time before it disappears from your mind. Whatever you learn stays with you, but it fades gradually, leaving space for new ideas and knowledge. In software development, if a team leader tries to interchange their staff in various roles to help achieve a goal, it can take longer to reach the target. This is because the staff lose morale whenever they get moved from their favorite spots. As a project manager, do not waste time juggling priorities to try and save time. You will stall the project completely.
6. Improve system design through architectural reviews
You will find notions of under- and over-engineering in the IT industry. Everyone believes over-engineering is not good for the sector. The real issue is knowing when your architecture is suffering over-engineering, and how to avoid it early.
Your solution could experience over-engineering if there is a simpler method that delivers the functionality you need. If you don’t know of a simpler method, the solution you give is correct to you until someone proves you otherwise.
Any solution that comes from a qualified architect can only be the best if it receives reviews from its peers. If architects do not receive peer reviews, they are prone to making errors.
7. Use team players
IT professionals should be good team players. They should contribute to the general success of the team. Distinctive personal traits are critical for team success, and the following traits are vital in teamwork:
Communication: imagine a team which gives no feedback to any member. Such a team is dead, because no one is assessing the other in the delivery of the project. Communication is a window to help in transferring information. If it is wide, it is effective, and the team produces far better work. Information delivery may be oral, via images, or a blend of the two. Every team player should willingly share information.
Understanding weaknesses and strengths: all team members should understand each other for purposes of efficient delivery. This saves team members from stress since they know and trust each other.
8. Aim at organizing the team
Build expertise since each project is unique. Your team may need to learn technical details before embarking on a given project, and you need to ensure they access it easily. Distribute the expertise so your client receives their project on time. Keep your team informed of any changes, challenges, and skills they need to learn. Make sure you cross-train developers in multiple teams. You can do this by letting them observe, learn, and try to work on their own. Don't let them get distracted as this will affect the project schedule - the concentration of your developers is something you don’t want to lose.
These tricks and tips are beneficial to any developer who wants to succeed. Prowess in software production does not happen overnight. It takes time and patience, and you should consult widely.
This advice is just the tip of the iceberg. Do you feel we’ve missed anything out? If so, share in the comment section below!