Diversity plays an important role in aiding effective collaboration on a software development project. Having people of different backgrounds in your team ensures that different perspectives and life experiences are fed into the creative process of problem-solving. A variety of minds means a broader approach to blockers and issues that arise, giving the team the ability to consider challenges from a variety of angles before choosing the best route. A 2018 study in the South African Journal of Science found that more diverse software development teams were more efficient in their projects, strong inferences that factors such as diverse educational backgrounds open new prospects for a company. Homogeneity may seem like a smoother option, but collaboration between diverse team members is key in increasing the efficiency of a software development project and its success.
Elements to consider
When ideas are shared, diversity leads to innovation, so creating a psychologically safe environment where team members are free to experiment and express their thoughts is important. A culture of inclusivity welcomes diverse perspectives, allowing different people to have their say and the freedom to tackle challenges in their own unique way. John Estafanous, Forbes Council member and Founder and CEO of RallyBright advised it is important to ‘identify which dimensions of inclusion and collaboration your teams are doing well with, and which areas need improvement’. Some organisations, for example, might excel at empathy but lack in providing adequate support, causing team members to retract from their roles and lose enthusiasm for the project. To mitigate this, transparency and honest communication are essential in fostering effective collaboration within the development team.
Communication makes collaboration possible and the best way to enable good communication is to start as you plan to continue. The development team needs to have solid involvement in the project from the early stages of planning to help guide the approach. Without this, we find that communication challenges will compound later in the project. Establishing at the outset, a shared understanding of what needs to be accomplished, timelines and where ownership lies lays the foundation for effective collaboration. Improving team collaboration in development teams also requires a scheme of effective communication strategies. According to a 2019 case study from the University of Walden, the social and emotional intelligence of the Project Manager is imperative when determining the need for and importance of these strategies. This multi-level awareness from the Project Manager fosters the right communication, encouraging collaboration, trust, and feedback within the team.
Feedback is an essential part of the development process, without it areas for improvement become hard to identify and issues can stagnate leading to much larger problems that may have been avoidable. At team member level, both job satisfaction and productivity are measurably improved by the practice of feedback. According to a 2021 research survey for the Brazilian Symposium on Software Quality absence of evaluation and the periodicity of feedback is key to improvement in Agile software development teams. If team members are receiving feedback that fosters a positive work environment and supports their personal growth this has a positive effect on their collaborative effort, work ethic and engagement with the project.
Celebrating successes and recognising accomplishments
This helps to incentivise the development team to continue achieving and meet project goals. Feeding back successes and failures is an important balance to strike, as failures, if addressed constructively, become opportunities for growth, learning and improvement. Project retrospectives are an important part of this process as it allows the team to reflect on feedback from the development and help to grow a portfolio of lessons feeding into continuous improvement of project approaches. This helps to improve efficiency and collaboration in the long term.
An approach for the determination and correlation of diversity and efficiency of software development teams – Seher Altiner; Mustafa B. Ayhan – Industrial Engineering Department, Marmara University Istanbul, Turkey
Project Managers’ Communication Strategies for Team Collaboration in Software Development John Rubena Wani Walden University