Organizations must adapt swiftly to stay ahead in today's fast-paced and competitive business landscape. This need for agility is particularly evident in product development, where success hinges on efficiently creating innovative solutions that meet evolving customer demands.
Agile product development is incredibly spontaneous and dynamic. Start developing the first version instead of waiting until you work everything out. Then, you gather feedback, get some presales and alpha participants, and keep building on that.
While this sounds risky and complex, it's quite reliable. Your initial investments are more modest, and you can test your product in the field more accurately.
Still, for this to work, you need a great technical team. Here's how you build one and help them unleash their full potential.
How to define requirements when building your team?
To hire the right people for your agile product development team, you must look for people who understand their requirements. Ideally, you want people who have worked on agile product development projects. So, add this to your requirements list – avoid choosing independent developers according to their technical prowess and competencies.
This development model requires certain traits like:
There are a lot of people who need help working in a non-structured environment. These people find a lack of clearly defined rules highly disturbing, and while there's nothing wrong with this mindset, it's clear why it wouldn't work on agile project development.
Another thing you need to do is create a job description. This is a simplified list of requirements needed for the job role. It helps the potential candidate understand what you expect of them, as it may also include a list of tasks they may work on. Many tech experts try to oversell themselves during the hiring stage, so you must ensure that you have interview questions ready to test their knowledge of certain programming languages, apart from the actual technical test. Phrase these questions well and use them to check if they understand the job they are applying for in your organization.
Effective interview techniques are incredibly important. Ask questions that test their technical and soft skills needed to excel at the job.
How to choose your tools among so many alternatives?
Next, you need to use the right tools to manage your team of tech experts. Feel free to ask for their experience in these tools (or similar tools) during the interview.
A great software you need for your internal process is a road mapping platform. While every agile process is different, road mapping future development is essential. Start by using a tool like Aha! While each service is different, experiences from similar systems are fairly transferable.
Other than this, you need a project management tool. Here, you can use anything from Trello and Monday to Basecamp. The key thing to remember is that you need a way for your team to communicate officially, a model that allows you to track version updates and maintain extensive development records.
Speaking of versions, you also want something like Git or Subversion to act as a version control system. Whatever happens, you should be able to track changes as far back as when the task started.
Testing is the most important part of agile product development. So, you need a test management tool, as well. A platform like TestRail or Zephyr should do the trick.
The thing to remember is that you must choose your toolset before you hire the team. This way, you'll have a clearer idea of who you need, perhaps even a better idea of how many people you need in your tech team.
What do you need to know to evaluate their technical skills?
Evaluating a developer's technical skills is crucial to the hiring process. Identifying candidates with the right expertise and capabilities to meet your business's specific development needs is vital. This is where SQL skills assessment tests come in handy.
However, determining the technical proficiency of a developer goes beyond simply assessing their programming languages or tools of choice. It requires a comprehensive evaluation of various factors contributing to their skill set.
So, to evaluate their technical skills, consider their level of proficiency in:
- Programming languages
- Software development principles and practices
- Agile methodologies
- A software development lifecycle
Aside from this, you also want to explore their portfolio and inquire about their past engagements. This way, you can grasp the scope of tasks they've dealt with and understand better the complexity of work they've previously done. It's also important that you focus on their ability to deliver results.
You also want to test their problem-solving and troubleshooting. Give them a fictional scenario to assess how they address problems in their head. How would they fix this particular problem, you may wonder? Here, don't focus on the outcome; it's a fictional scenario; just try to see how their problem-solving methodology works.
More importantly, assess their opinions on continuous learning. Agile development happens in stages (cycles). This means that, with each stage, they should strive to improve their job. Check if they're the kind of person to continuously self-improve by subscribing to webinars and keeping updated on the latest news within the tech industry.
While technical skills are fundamental to evaluating a developer, it's important to remember that assessing someone's ability encompasses more than just their technical knowledge. Effective communication, adaptability, and a passion for continuous learning are essential qualities that can greatly impact a developer's success in a dynamic industry.
Which methods can you use to improve teamwork and communication?
Enhancing teamwork and communication within a tech team is crucial to achieving optimal performance and fostering a productive work environment.
Choosing the right communication tools to contact your team members is vital. For this, you need to start with a collaboration tool (that we've already mentioned). This way, your team can communicate through assignments, uploads, schedules, etc.
Next, you need a separation of private and professional communication. Several companies use Slack and Zoom when communicating with teams instead of a private line such as WhatsApp.
If you're creating a tech team that shares an office, create clusters in your office space and promote co-located teams. The physical proximity of people working on the same tasks will increase communication efficiency.
Teambuilding activities are also beneficial to improve the company culture within your organization. This way, your team can develop a feeling for their coworker's dynamics and sentiments. This will allow your team to work with much greater cohesion and unity.
How important is the right cultural fit in agile workplaces?
Agile development consists of dynamic development cycles, which means you have a relatively short time before you need to develop an updated version. This is why all your tech team members need to work as one.
Everyone (although different) needs to be on the same page to achieve this. They must understand the assignment similarly and work toward the same goal. All of this is quite simple when people are the right culture fit.
Diversity is also essential. Today, with so many great AI tools and much task automation, it can make working on engagements easier. However, they cannot replace actual human beings – you still need to hire the right team members for your business. People with different backgrounds tend to think differently, which can add to a healthy and diverse work environment.
When people believe in your cause and the values that you stand for, their motivation and engagement are a lot higher. They'll display much higher retention rates if they feel a sense of belonging.
What is the best way to encourage autonomy and empowerment?
There's not enough time to micromanage everything when you want to foster an agile development system. Time is running short, and if everyone has to ask you for permission to introduce even the smallest of changes, everything will never get done. So, you need to give people your trust and autonomy, which will empower them to be even more daring and creative.
Start by setting clear goals. This way, they'll know what they should work toward. Imagine a scenario where you give them complete freedom to choose their path as long as they get to a designated location by a designated time.
Encourage a feedback culture and ensure they can tell you anything that worries them. The last thing you want is to be too authoritarian. This way, they'll be afraid to come out with a complaint. In the agile development process, where everything is so time-sensitive, even hesitating to inform you immediately may be catastrophic.
If you provide the right team with the right working conditions, the results will be favorable
To hire the right team, you must figure out who you need. Then, you need the right tools and people who can use them effectively. You also need to get your recruiters and HR up to speed so that you can identify the right people and evaluate them later on. Finally, the right work culture and atmosphere will make or break your engagement.
Guest-written by Srdjan Gombar
Veteran content writer, published author, and amateur boxer. Srdjan has a Bachelor of Arts in English Language & Literature and is passionate about technology, pop culture, and self-improvement. His free time he spends reading, watching movies, and playing Super Mario Bros. with his son.