Team Development

November 25, 2013

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The good thing about growth is that you’re getting stronger. You can deliver more work in less time and provide more unique values to your clients, such as stability, reliability, or variability. The difficult part is to make the team work together like clockwork.

24U Software has grown from 2 people to 8 people within 12 years and from 8 to 19 people within the last 11 months. It has been an amazing journey. As part of it, somewhere between 4 and 7 people, we had to learn one extremely interesting skill – team development (understand “developing in team”).

Until that point we were only a group of individual developers. Each project was assigned to a single developer, usually the one whose skills were the best for that specific project. We knew we should follow some developer conventions and we tried to, but we didn’t know how insufficient our conventions and documentation were until we had to transfer a project from one developer to another to catch up with our deadline. Then we started to think about involving multiple developers in the same project.

Team development is not a new thing and there are many tools and resources available online, but not for FileMaker development. So when we got certain enough about our experience we decided to share our  findings and tips and discuss the topic at Pause[x]Berlin 2013, the Pause On Error style unconference.

Our FileMaker team and I prepared a session where we listed the pros and cons of team development, the tools we use, and the rules and conventions that help us to work together. At the end we told 4 real-life stories from which we gained very valuable experience. The session was supposed to be only 75 minutes long but ended up taking over 2 hours thanks to the interest and valuable inspiring discussion of attending developers.

Now, I have updated our presentation slide show with the most significant comments we got during the discussion, and uploaded it to SlideShare so that you can take advantage of it even if you were not able to attend Pause[x]Berlin 2013. You can browse through the slides right here below:

 

 

Sure it’s not like being there and participating in the discussion. And the “tales for males” are really worth hearing in-natura. But it’s good to start somewhere and begin your trip.

It took us several years of trial and error and we learned a lot during our journey. Now team development is a natural way of development for us and we cannot imagine working differently any more.

Of course, as every coin has two sides, team development has its caveats. However, we have found the benefits to outweigh them, especially when our goal is to deliver the best possible results to our customer.

What’s your experience?

Have you had a chance to be part of a team development, either as a team member, or as a client? Are you going to try it out?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Marcus Wilson November 27, 2013 at 5:26 pm

G’day H0nza,
thank you for this link, this is a recent change of focus for our development team, having been sole developer for 4 years, and now having to staff working with me, to now working with an external contractor using agile/scrum methodology has really pushed some new boundaries and approaches to all of us.
We are fortunate to have some virtual infrastructure available which has now made dev test and production vlans a reality, where previous hardware limitations made that much harder to achieve.
short term sprints (2 weeks) with delivery focus at sprint end is really helping us focus on outcomes that provide value to the business. Longer term project framework allows these components to come together to create the bigger picture, and avoiding some of the waterfall pitfalls that we have all found in the past.
Thanks again!

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Don Clark November 29, 2013 at 9:00 am

Thanks for this post, HOnza. The FileMaker community needs more posts like this one – developers need to better understand business principles and business owners need to explore all the facets of growing a successful business. Your post helps both.
FYI – I recommend reading ‘A Slice of the Pie, How to Build a Big Little Business’, by Nick Sarillo. It’s a great book on about team building that I’m sure you would find helpful.

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