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How To Drive A Software Development Team Through Project Ownership

Is project ownership equal to getting more money through managing in a software development company?

I’m sorry, but no. When we talk about project ownership in a software development company I will use the following synonyms to describe it: motivation, care, responsibility, involvement, productivity, determination, ambition to succeed and goal achievement.

In this article when I talk about project ownership I will not refer to this term neither to the Project Manager nor the Product Owner, nor to the Scrum Master, as each of these have their own specific responsibilities in a software development company, in a software development team and during the software development process, but these responsibilities are out of the project ownership scope for the needs of this article.

Project ownership is actually a way to create motivation among team members in your company, which is not related to getting more money for a specific position, but to skills and personal qualification and motivation.

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The need to succeed is the winning bid

The basic need of each human being on the planet is to feel satisfied by what they do. It all starts in your childhood – you feel happy when you get good grades at school, you feel happy to win a tennis game, you feel happy to help others however you can, etc. Generally, it is about feeling happy to “give” what you are capable of and as a result of this to be praised. This is what drives you forward.

If you are a good project manager or a company owner, you need to realise this peculiarity of the human psyche. You must be smart and take advantage of it.

The trick is to give each software development team member some kind of freedom or in other words a kind of project ownership.

How to organise such approach of work in a software development team?

If you haven’t tried it yet, then as a first step you need to consider whether:

– your software development company has the variety of rather small projects to work on

– or your software development team has just a few big projects to work on, that could be divided into smaller projects- project parts

– or the whole software development team work could be divided into separate tasks.

This will help you define how to organize the project ownership approach implementation in your company. You need to assess whether the variety of projects/ project parts/ tasks listed above could be distributed among team members accordingly - based on their qualification focus on the one hand and based on the specifics of the work on the other hand, in a way that all working parts could be successfully completed - “Done’’.

This exaggeration that needs to be made by you as a second step is easy because you are already familiar with your company projects and specifics and your company skill matrix. During a company meeting you can suggest and explain the project ownership approach and if approved by all team members… you are ready to go!

Now you can give the opportunity to each team member to decide what project / project part / task to work on. In this way even less experienced developers will get a project in which they are the best.

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Try not to assign tasks based on your perception of the software developer’ skills as this is not an appropriate approach in a Scrum team. Your familiarity with the company skill matrix (see also article: What is the most important segment is a software company) is necessary just to confirm to yourself that the right team members choose the relevant tasks for them based on their qualifications.

Why is project ownership advantageous to a software development agency?

How motivated will you be, if you know that you have chosen by yourself to manage and accomplish a task that you are really good at? The answer of this question will give you an idea how successful a software company could be if it implements the project ownership approach. Because the most important thing for a company to succeed is motivated employees.

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You may say that money is what motivates employees. Yes, money creates motivation but only in the short-term period. At some point the employee just forgets about this. Real motivation comes from involvement, especially when somebody is given the opportunity to own and “manage”, even when it is about a small task.

Incorporating this business rule opens a lot of doors to success: it gives each developer a feeling of ownership, a feeling of being the master of the subject, a feeling of being important. This inspires. Thus each software development team member feels responsible and they do their best to contribute to the teamwork in a positive way. Furthermore a developer will do their best to protect the project knowledge and to improve their expertise in this field. As a result developers would specialize in the most unusual topics and become a master in some specific expertise - and this always brings advantage to the whole company.


A healthy team of superheroes is a result of motivated developers. This is the base of a successful software development company. Only such companies could be innovators and thus winners in a competitive environment and actually this is the key to success - to be the best in your area.

Project ownership is the right approach to contribute to achieving this. If you doubt about this then just give it a try. Give freedom to the developers to create, give them an opportunity to show how skilled they are, give them a chance to be “managers” and keep them involved.

Do you implement project ownership approach in your company and why?

What are advantages and disadvantages of this approach?