It should have felt like a staircase to heaven. You’ve started rolling a wheel, and you should be proud of yourself. You had a brilliant project idea, you went and hired people who kept banging on their chest, saying they’ll make it work for a reasonable price. Yet it feels very unsettling, there are those nasty signs your development team is letting you down. Every time you get to interact with people, who are supposed to be making your dreams come true, you don’t feel serenity; it just no longer satisfies. So where should you look for a reason of this embarrassment? Does the problem lie on your side or on the other side - and how to deal with bad programmers if there are any?
To help with the search, we will try to highlight the key points that signal your expectations and your team go separate ways. This article is not a comparision of good developers vs bad developers, as there are no ultimate signs of a bad software company. Here there are some things you should be especially attentive to during the development process; though we will not provide you with direct statements like characteristics of a bad developers or signs of bad development company; we will draw your attention to some warning signs every entrepreneur should be aware of.
1. Your team systematically screws the set deadlines.
Without the unnecessary exaggeration at this point, we are all humans. For better or worse, mistakes from our sides tend to happen, and not all of them can be avoided in advance. A once-missed deadline could probably be explained and excused due to emergency case. However, the ignore of deadlines set systematically is a bad sign - it symbolizes the irrational resources distribution, which can result in major product issues.
The contemporary world has an extensive list of time-management tools, that help you set tasks, track the time spent on them and estimate the amount of hours correctly. For these purposes in Mind Studios we use the following tools:
Slack - a dream for every entrepreneur, founder, investor and VC. Slack lets us take our team collaboration to a higher level It gives us integrations for task management and Team Messaging. It is also good-looking, fun and well-designed, allowing both our clients and our team to enjoy communication process.
Redmine - a flexible project management web application that lets you create projects, split them into epics, estimate tasks and calculate the amount of time spent on each task. Redmine’s payed alternative is called Jira and could also be used for a better project management. WIth the help of the tools mentioned, we know the deadline before it arrives, which significantly reduces the “missed target day” opportunity.
2. You always feel the lack of communication.
Does your development manager respond to you within a few days or so? And don’t you feel disrespected each time? Rule number 2 of a great client-manager communication claims: “No matter what it is - a status report, an epic summary or just a brief letter to client, the most necessary thing for a development team is to pay attention - to the person they work with. To constantly keep him in the loop - this is mastery.” If it is not so - then your development team is missing out here.
We came up to a realization that communication is as essential as the overall product’s quality; due to this, we follow the “golden principle” - we contact our partners a bit more than they’d want us to. The scheduled weekly calls and daily status updates from the client-team communication as we see it.
3. Once the project is done, the team’s technical support vaporizes.
“Are you tired of being “the next one” in the que?”
The symptom of vanishing is also widely-known by us: once the project is deployed, live and launched, the development team seems to contact you lesser and lesser. Even not contact - when there is a bug rising, you need your team to have it covered. You get in touch with them - and silence for days is your answer, or a cautious “We’ll do our best” as a maximum. Though this is the minorest of issues, you still get to wait for a long while.
There is no universal medicine from the long-list waiting or broken obligations, but the most you can do - ensure the team you work with is 100% consumer-responsive during the main working stage. As a software development company, we also face minor production bugs every now and then, but we try to reply to requests within a few hours, making an effort to fix all the imperfections.
4. Your team is not motivated to see Your result.
“We don’t build the things people want. We build things people need” Steve Jobs
According to Engagement Multiplier, The importance of employee engagement can’t be overstated – “employee engagement strategies have been proven to reduce staff turnover, improve productivity and efficiency, retain customers at a higher rate, and make more profits”. In Mind Studios, we know these things to be true - the projects made by energetic and enthusiastic development agency bear a great resemblance to their creators. On the contrary, the projects led by the apathetic and sluggish programmers are far less likely to show a top-notch performance.
The difference between the team’s engagement and team’s apathy on the project can be easily tracked - a few fair answers to the questions below will do the trick:
Does your team challenge your ideas from the analytical point of view?
Do they offer you the business analysis stage to help improve the weak points of your product?
Does your team brainstorm side-by-side with you?
If you have put a confident “yes” to all of the above - congratulations, the engagement of your team is beyond the shadow. However, if you are not sure how to answer these questions, or simply have a few negatives - this might be a warning sign.
5. Bugs, Microbes and Other Issues.
This is one of the most obvious low-performance indicators, yet many tend to ignore it. Each time when you receive a new build to test (after every demo in Agile), the functional has loads of bugs to fix. Don’t get deluded thinking that this is just a development stage, and that everything will be polished before the launch - chances are, it will not. The critical amount of issues indicates that the testing process of a team is somehow not streamlined, which will cause you even more troubles later - on the launch stage.
Once you realize that your product continuously (sprint-by-sprint) reeks of bugs, you might want a team to change the testing process, or you might want to change the team.
In Mind Studios, we take testing with the utmost seriousness - we have a few iterations after each sprint, we experiment with A/B test groups, and we even make our products participate in QA Hackathons, ensuring our clients will receive the project of a google-proof quality. We are always happy to assist if issues occur.
Change is hard at first,
Messy in the middle, and
Gorgeous at the end.
Robin Sharma, writer and leadership speaker
Starting a complete new thing from scratch is never easy - the pitfalls are everywhere, e.g. dealing with bad software developers. Sometimes you might feel misunderstood or totally out-of-date and disappointed - there is no safety insurance here. We are not trying to prove you are working with bad programmers. Though depending on the people you work with you might feel it more or less acute, or even avoid these emotions at all. So maybe it is time for a bigger change to come?
Written by Dmitry Dobritsky and Elina Bessarabova.