Teamwork can refer to a number of different things: Working in conjunction with others toward a common goal, a combined action of numerous individuals, or even just efficient and effective collaboration with other people. However, just because people are working with one another doesn’t mean that they’re participating in successful teamwork.

What’s more, teamwork can have a different meaning when it comes to software development. Especially in light of innovative trends like DevOps and agile development, effective teamwork is becoming more of a priority for development organizations. In order for initiatives like DevOps and agile development to be successful, developers, quality assurance personnel and software testers must all work closely together.

When instituted correctly and made a prime focus of a software development project, teamwork can bring numerous benefits to the product being created. This approach can lead to increased efficiency, enhanced creativity as well as drive innovation, which all shine through in the final release.

Teamwork and efficiency

When team members effectively work together toward their common goal – developing a product that will provide the best experience possible for end users – it can considerably drive their efficiency. This, in turn, helps drive a faster time to market and prevent coding and other development mistakes.

The keys here involve communication and collaboration. When developers are able to clearly communicate with one another about their needs, the overall demands of the project and specific work processes, team members can be more productive in their actions and improve their collaboration.

It’s similar to the inner workings of a machine. When all the pieces fit together as they should, and all cogs are running at the right speed, the machine can hum along and perform the actions that it was created for. However, when even a single piece is out of place or not operating at the correct rate, the machine doesn’t function properly and isn’t as efficient as it should be.

Teamwork and creativity

Supportive teamwork can also help drive creativity among a group of developers. This capability builds off of the communication and collaboration capabilities seen with efficient teamwork processes. When team members feel comfortable expressing themselves among their fellow developers, they can be more confident in their introduction of new ideas, concepts and processes. Enabling and encouraging creativity among the team can significantly improve the final product, and can even result in advancements and innovations that might not have been part of the plan from the start.

What’s more, computing and IT experts noted in a scholarly article that creativity can also help development teams establish unique solutions to the common pain points they experience during projects.

“[F]ostering creativity is one of the keys to response to common problems and challenges of software development today,” faculty members from King Abdulaziz University and Lahore Leads University wrote. “The development of new software products requires the generation of novel and useful ideas.”

Teamwork and innovation

Creativity in a development team can also pave the way for considerable innovation. Every advancement that has taken place in the industry so far first began as an original, ground-breaking concept that stemmed from an individual or a group’s ability to be creative. In this way, teams that are confident in the ability to be creative will also be the organizations that likely create the next big innovation in the marketplace.

Improving teamwork among developers

While teamwork can help support efficiency, innovation and creativity that can drive the overall success of a product, the necessary communication and collaboration here doesn’t simply happen. Team members have to be dedicated and put forth the required effort to ensure that teamwork can take place.

Thankfully, there are a few things developers can do to help improve their teamwork. This includes avoiding the five dysfunctions of a team, which can topple collaboration and prevent innovation and creativity while also hampering efficiency and success. These dysfunctions are based on insights from Patrick Lencioni, and encompass:

  1. Inattention to Results: When teams aren’t working together, each member will pursue his or her own goals, as opposed to those of the overall group. As Lencioni pointed out, this “erodes the focus on collective success.”
  2. Avoidance of Accountability: While it can sometimes be uncomfortable or awkward for team members to ensure each other’s accountability, not doing so can serve to plummet the success of a project. In this way, developers must ensure that they are accountable for their own actions and responsibilities, and that they are making sure that their fellow team members do the same.
  3. Lack of Commitment: Another dysfunction occurs when teams don’t commit to the project at hand. As experts have pointed out, this requires a 100 percent buy-in, so to speak – teams must be completely dedicated to creating the product. Lencioni noted that a lack of clarity and communication can be an issue here as well. This can create a climate where team members are prevented from making concrete decisions and remaining true to these plans.
  4. Fear of Conflict: It’s unrealistic to think that conflicts or disagreements will never take place. Dysfunctional teams may fear these episodes, but strong, productive teams understand that conflicts can pave the way for innovation. Team members must face conflicts head on in order to resolve and improve.
  5. Absence of Trust: Finally, problems creep up when team members feel vulnerable and do not trust one another. This can considerably hamper creativity, as if each individual doesn’t feel confident, it may prevent him or her from sharing their ideas.

Overall, teamwork is key to ensuring that the final release is the best version of the product possible. With a keen focus on communication and collaboration to support efficiency, creativity and innovation, team members can improve the way they work together.

Teamwork at Making Sense

Our own Solutions Architect JD Raimondi shared a few insights about teamwork at Making Sense:

  • Every idea is a good idea if we think of ourselves as the ones using the system. We always try, and when we are lucky enough, we actually are.
  • Innovation in technology is a double edged sword: It does not come without it risks. But if the new, sharper sword will work faster and better and save us time, we can compensate by using that time to mitigate risks.
  • It’s very easy for us being creative – we just need to come up with something that nobody in humanity’s history has thought about!
  • When we mix and match our teams, we always end up with a new combination of points of view, expertise, history and path forward in their career. The middle ground always turns out to be a good balance between, what would otherwise be, biased personal idiosyncrasies.