6 Signs Your Development Team Is Letting You Down

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By Project Planning and Management May 15, 2016

Project stuff-ups causing late nights? Working on weekends instead of spending time with friends and family? Unwanted overtime? If these are commonplace to you, it might be time to ask yourself if your development team is letting you down.

1. Missed deadlines

Another day, another missed deadline. At best there are sincere apologies from the team, at worst the team doesn’t even seem to care. You’re doing your bit – you’re committed and you’re working long days and weekends to get the job done. Unless there’s absolute clarity around the reason for the failure, and commitment to change the situation in future, are they really going to get your business to where you need to go?

2. Your team won’t admit mistakes

Mistakes happen. But it’s how we respond to those mistakes that makes all the difference. Some teams use mistakes as an opportunity to learn and improve, a driver of change for the better. Others stick their head in the sand and pretend that it wasn’t their fault, or even worse – deny there’s a problem in the first place. Teams that don’t admit mistakes waste a lot of time playing the blame game, more interested in pointing the finger at someone else than fixing the underlying problem. Good teams openly admit their mistakes, learn from them and improve.

3. Everything is nearly complete

You keep hearing promises from the team that the task or project is ‘almost there’. The project is ‘90% done’, and yet the deadline keeps getting pushed back and you still haven’t seen a demonstration of what’s been done so far.

Humans have a tendency to do easy tasks first, meaning if your project hasn’t been managed properly, that ‘final 10%’ may actually make up half of the effort of the project, or worse, your team may not even have the skills to complete it! If you’re in this situation, it’s time to act. Ask to see what’s been completed so far, and ensure you’re comfortable with the answer they give about why/when the final items will be completed. If in doubt – seek an independent assessment before wasting more time and money.

4. Quality issues

So you’ve finally ‘finished’ your project, only to find numerous bugs and quality issues – your system is ‘alright’ and technically complete, but you’re not excited about the finished product.
It’s a tendency for an immature developer to want to work on new projects, rather than test and keep working on older projects to ensure they are polished. Inadequate testing can be detrimental to your current project and future development, as existing defects will require 10x more time and effort to rectify if not fixed early on.

You know there’s a problem if you’re having to fix issues yourself, your clients and customers are reporting on defects, and unexpected bugs seem to pop up during development due to poor quality system architecture (your team is working on Module A, but Module C, which is meant to be unrelated, breaks!). Quality issues can be a sign of a lack of processes in place or your development team cutting corners in order to deliver their work on time. It’s better to ensure any issues with your system are found and fixed early on, even if upfront costs seem a lot. Over time, they’ll result in big cost savings as your team won’t have to rectify issues caused by poor quality assurance.

5. It’s a one-way relationship

Most development teams can complete the requests you send them, but you start getting real value when they provide proactive suggestions as well. Successful teams collaborate to identify opportunities that help you meet your project or business objectives. You don’t want the pace of your organisation’s innovation to be restricted to your ideas alone. Your team should be contributing to this, helping to innovate as their expertise and knowledge could add value – they probably know things you don’t!

A collaborative development will provide proactive suggestions on ways to benefit your project, identifying potential pitfalls and suggesting ways your projects can succeed long-term. If your team has never given you feedback on how you can contribute to the team better, this is a sign that your relationship is one-way.

6. You have no idea what’s going on

You’ve requested an update on how your project is tracking along, but you’re struggling to get a straight answer from your development team. When asking them to explain concepts and ideas, they fluff around, using jargon to smoke screen their uncertainty and making it extremely hard to follow or understand what’s going on. This can be a sign that your development team don’t actually know what’s happening or has no documentation.

If you don’t have absolute clarity of what your next deliverable is and delivery date, warning bells should be ringing. There are countless stories of clients who left their projects to their development team, who would ‘take care of everything’ – only to find it had completely gone off the rails. You should have complete transparency from your team on how your project is tracking, what has been completed, what hasn’t, and expected dates for delivery.

Sound familiar?

If you’re experiencing any of the above with your current team or agency, we’re here to help.

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