A skilled development team is equal to a successful company
A company owner should value their employees the most and in our business especially the software development team, as these are the people that form the pillar of the whole company.
It is no surprise that your clients also appreciate the development team's work when it is about the client's business because the developers are the people who actually initiate business growth and innovations.
Do you have doubts about this? Come on, as a PM or a company owner you should confess that this is the reality. Yes, you take care of your team as well – because in return your whole business benefits from the prosperity and the achievement of your clients' ideas & goals.
When it is about a software development team you need to consider each developer's individual skills. This is why a good company strategy is to have a calculated approach for hiring employees with the right skills to achieve the long-term planned goals ( article: work always goal- driven ) .
Your developer’s skill sets are initially known but you should update them regularly as well
From the beginning when hiring a developer you need to ensure that you recruit the right person.
It all starts with an interview where you need to correctly assess the developer’s qualifications and how they fit the requirements. We always use a small development test during the interview, a test where the developer needs to make a simple crud.
Based on all this we estimate, according to our needs, whether the developer would fit in the current team.
The challenging part for all software agencies is related to keeping the software development team updated with the latest tendencies in the rapidly changing IT world and to permanently create an environment for developers to improve their knowledge and skills. Planning a training schedule annually and updating it on a six- month basis is a good approach to take care of your employees' permanent education.
As members in a software development team in Scrum are changeable and cross- functional, they will act as a whole unit and a single developer will be able to implement a variety of tasks out of his expertise (ex: development, testing, design, etc.…) aimed at the Sprint to progress, rather than slowing the process through sitting and waiting for other developer to complete the work of his specialty (if this is not the case in your team, then you can check if you are Scrum or Scrumbut through filling the questionnaire. Though, it turns out that selecting the relevant training to improve and focus on a specific developer’s skill is a must and very appreciated.
Based on all training efforts done by developers it is important to regularly inform yourself about their skill level, which means you have to have an updated company skill matrix and the qualifications of each developer. In this way you will know whether and how the software development team would meet a client's expectations at different levels.
A solution for a skill assessment approach - the hackathons
Have you ever tried it? I have heard the following answers:
No, because I haven't heard of it.
No, because our software development team is occupied with tasks.
No, because it is investment of money, efforts and time, and it has no financial return.
Maybe it is time to give a hackathon a try. You can use it as a hidden test for the developers to get a clear sense of their skills. Thus you don't need to directly ask them to rate themselves but at the same time you will have the opportunity to assess them in a challenging manner.
So let the internal competition begin… First of all you need to schedule the hackaton event in the busy timetable of the developers - among all tasks and projects which are in progress, or in the best case, between a task or a project completion. This might happen once or twice a year - practice shows this timeframe is enough to get a realistic idea. Define the length of the event - 1 or 2 days and notify the development team members well in advance.
You may add a requirement like participating as teams of two and then leave the development team members to organize themselves in pairs before the event. At the day of the event each pair will “bring” only their skills and they won’t know what to expect because you will wait to announce the rules of the game until the day of.
You will get probably some funny, unrealistic and even crazy ideas but don't underestimate them. Based on the results you can assess which are the strong and weak of each developer, and then use this information to plan which skills of which developers to improve and how – of course after some discussions with them.
There are a lot of hackathon ideas that you may learn from and decide which one fits your company needs. It is a good approach for flexible companies that are eager to learn and change.
No matter what niche or technologies your software company is active in, you always need to know what the current team configuration is and how a single developer qualifications improve in time.
How familiar are you with your company skill matrix today?
How did you organize the hackathon event in your company?