How to Improve Communication in Your Software Development Teams

Communication within software development teams is vital, more than it is in many other industries. The highly technical nature of software development, paired with the varying experience levels or specialties developers may have, means knowledge sharing and collaboration are essential. For these to exist, communication must be top-notch. 

In recent years, communication in the workplace has become much more difficult to maintain. One study by McKinsey blames remote work, with 84% of developers saying the difficulties of remote communications caused issues to drag on much longer than necessary.

Developers need to find ways to improve collaboration skills and promote clear communication within their team — no matter where they’re located — to create a successful project. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of good communication and provide tips on how to improve communication in your software development teams.

The Importance of Good Communication in Software Development

Any software development project is made up of many different parts. There’s various different features and functions a product or system will need, and each needs to be coded while keeping the others in mind. Likewise, the development team completing the project has many different members, and each needs to be given updates on how the project is progressing and how their output affects the whole. 

Communication is therefore vital in software development, and not just among developers. Managers, testers, clients and end-users — everyone should be aware of the relevant communication channels available, and how they can use them.

Strong communication is particularly important in agile methodologies, as the team may be working on many different parts of a project simultaneously. In order to improve collaboration skills and communication in an agile workplace, managers need to apply the agile manifesto to the letter: this means mandatory daily scrum meetings or retrospectives so the team can discuss previous project iterations.

The Benefits of Good Communication

1. Fewer errors, greater efficiency

Efficiency undoubtedly increases when communication improves.  Businesses who invest in strong communications report employees becoming as much as 25% more productive.

In software development, strong communication between individuals may lead to fewer errors within a project as well. Often, mistakes are made because developers do not have access to enough information. For instance, a client or manager might change how certain features will be implemented into a system, but not everyone is aware of the new ways of working. Improving communication helps developers access these kinds of updates. 

2. Improved client satisfaction

Since good communication often leads to a more successful project, client satisfaction is likely to improve simply because your team’s output is of a higher quality.

However, if your team contacts a client frequently to provide updates and ask for their opinion, client satisfaction is also likely to improve because the client will feel involved. Moreover, communicating frequently with a client means the output of your team is more likely to be in line with the client’s needs and expectations. 

How to Improve Communication in Your Development Team

1. Use CollaborationTools

In a hybrid or remote working environment, face-to-face communication is infrequent and difficult to arrange. Development teams must therefore rely on digital solutions to ensure consistent communication.

Slack has historically been a very popular choice among software developers. In 2017, over 85% of software startups used Slack to communicate. 

Jira or Trello can also improve collaboration skills by allowing teams to share more in-depth information regarding a project. Remote working means it may be difficult to view other developers’ code, but using an online collaboration or productivity app helps individuals get an overview of the team’s overall output in near real-time.

2. Promote Knowledge Sharing

Ensuring everyone has access to the same information can reduce errors and improve developer output. However, the benefits of knowledge sharing may not be obvious to everyone on your team. As such, it’s crucial to encourage the practice among developers and provide them with tactics to facilitate collaboration.

For instance, holding weekly brown bag lunches gives teams a platform to share their skills and consolidate knowledge. Collaborating in this way also means developers can gain insights into other parts of the business, giving them a more holistic view of project objectives.

3. Check-in with relevant stakeholders

Inclusion is a critical element of a development team’s communication strategy. In order to create a finished product that’s entirely in line with the requests and expectations of management, frequent check-ins with everyone from team leaders to department managers are crucial.

The best way to keep everyone engaged will be unique to your business, but whatever the method, consistency is key. Weekly meetings via video call or sending written updates on Slack are a good place to start, as long as they are provided throughout the development process. 

4. Pinpoint areas for improvement

Improving communication can be difficult if you’re unsure where to start. Data analytics can help businesses find the areas that require better communication, as well as helping to strengthen developer capabilities overall.

Furthermore, analytics tools can help you measure how much more efficient your team has become due to the communication changes you’ve made. By continuously monitoring your development team, you can identify if the issue lies with the communication channels you use, or if the team’s collaboration skills need to be improved. 

Enhance Collaboration on Your Development Team with BlueOptima

BlueOptima’s Developer Analytics tool helps you accurately measure your team’s productivity and evaluate the quality of their code. With our metrics, managers can become more proactive in their efforts to improve communication and collaboration, as potential issues will be flagged much sooner in the development cycle.

If you’re interested in how our digital solutions can help your team, learn more about our Developer Analytics tool today.