Software development is dependent on teamwork. And, the more organized, coordinated, and collaborative team members are (and the more empathetic, communicative, and honest team leaders are), the better the results. But often, “unforced errors” are made (some very frequent and repetitive), leading to conflict, lack of definition, mistakes, or low-quality products. The good news: it is possible to avoid them. Here are the three most common mistakes when creating a software development team.

Mistake number 1: underestimating team building

The construction of in-house development teams is more complex than we think. It is more than just competing for the ever-scarcer talent as companies’ digital projects multiply. The specialized market research portal Statista asked: “Is the skills shortage preventing your organization from keeping up with change?”. 70% of respondents in 2022 said “yes,” setting the highest mark since the last record in 2015.

Indeed, building a team is not only about attracting talent: you have to design an appropriate selection process, have mentors and leaders within the organization to help with onboarding, and guide newcomers in subsequent instances. And, of course, create the necessary environment so that people feel part of the team, work in a coordinated manner and achieve the expected results.

This can lead to numerous complications: from poorly sized teams (many developers for simple projects, few professionals overwhelmed in demanding initiatives) to an imbalance in the necessary skills. The solution? Companies like Making Sense have already solved the problems linked to talent procurement by putting together teams with all the necessary skills to meet the needs of our clients.

Mistake number 2: the imbalance between flexibility and teamwork.

Flexibility is a friend of productivity: a 2021 Gartner survey revealed that for 43% of respondents, working to schedules adapted to their individual needs improved their performance. People are increasingly demanding to work from anywhere and at any time. The “office” model seems outdated, where a person must be available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

However, when it comes to a software development team, many aspects must be considered: the meeting times for the entire team – managing, for example, mutually exclusive availability options- the task coordination for the next release or the coordination of activities to ensure the highest quality of the software.

In this sense, PMs (or project managers) play a key role. They are like orchestra conductors, who ensure that each piece falls in the right place and who guarantee both right team management -even when it is a diverse and multidisciplinary group- and a good communication channel with the end customer.

Mistake number 3: not establishing meaningful purposes

According to a compelling study by Gallup only 21% of employees feel engaged at work. In software product development, this low level of engagement can translate into low-quality development which do not meet the user’s needs.

What can a team leader do to increase engagement levels? The key is “purpose-setting”. Indeed, it is not only a matter of deciding on “what” (what are the features to be developed) and “how” (what tools will be used, what are the delivery dates), but also -and fundamentally- “why”: the communication between the team leader and each collaborator must be clear, transparent and run smoothly. And it must include information on the benefits that the software will generate, either for the company or to improve how they work or the quality of life of end users.

That feeling of belonging to a team and creating something meaningful and significant is the key driver for employees to give their best at all times.