The Most Challenging Part of Managing a Software Development Team

Andrew Zola
Andrew Zola on Linkedin

Managing any type of team is difficult because it requires people management. Humans aren’t machines, we are complicated, emotional, and have the potential to be distracted.

Good management requires anticipation of any possible issues that might come up to maintain team performance and motivation.

Developers are equipped with skills that are highly sought after, so salaries are high across the board. As a result, they tend to choose jobs where they can feel challenged while enjoying themselves. But things can change within a short period of time and as they are in high demand, they can also quickly quit and move on.

This can quickly turn into a nightmare for anyone managing a software development team. When this happens, you can be sure that development will also slow down.

Hiring a new developer is difficult because everyone is competing for the same tiny pool of talent. Employers have had to get creative over the years to attract new tech talent, but they can’t change the job itself.

Further, while looking to fill a vacant seat, you also have to find a way to keep the rest of the team intact (so make sure that you can offer a whole lot of perks).

Planning is everything

Beyond the human element, planning a software development project is also a challenge. The more time you spend planning, the details you write down, and the time spent with your team will help to reduce redoing things over and over again.

Check out how to estimate a software development project in man-hours realistically.

Planning also gives you the opportunity to prioritize, but this it isn’t easy to accomplish. In fact, for startups, prioritization is this biggest challenge. While there isn’t a solid formula to accomplish this, working closely with your team will help you achieve it.

Estimates can be unreliable

Estimates have historically been unreliable because of a variety of factors. For one, developers tend to think everything can be achieved rapidly (so it’s always best to add extra time and then some more). Furthermore, there can also be uncertainty as demand can be fluctuating.

Most of the time we use existing code bases and these can turn out to be like a complex puzzle. This is because you have to figure out where to place new code.

The more time spent working inside that code will lead to better knowledge and better chances of building something inside it. But the time it takes to get to that level of familiarity is impossible to predict with accuracy.

Changes during the development phase

Software development takes time and during that period of time, things can change. Although change is generally good, in this context it’s better to avoid it all together.

If you start changing the direction of the project in the middle of the build cycle, you can easily set yourself up for more complications that can eventually derail the project. So while it might be tempting to please a client, it will be beneficial to both in the long run if you finish what you set out to do.

Regardless of the industry, project management won’t be a walk in the park. But with good man management skills, planning, generous estimates, and sticking to your guns during the development phase, you have a better chance of delivery the project on time.