Today, we’re going to discuss project communication and why it’s vital. The intention of this article is to educate a business or someone who needs to have software developed on how to communicate more effectively with your development team. Think of it as a peek behind the curtain on how we developers think.
Credit where credit is due: This post is inspired by an infographic created by Anna Vital, but it’s messaging was so dead on that I felt it needed some explanation. Here’s 10 ways to communicate more effectively with your development team.
Get to the point fast.
Time is critical to developers. When you’re in the middle of a project and your brain is wired into all of the nuances and variables of what that project does, needs to do, and what needs to be done, time is critical. There’s a reason behind why developers tend to work 20 hours straight and then disappear for 12 hours… it’s difficult to get into the mindset of software development and once you’re in there, it’s difficult to leave. Communicating quickly, efficiently, and professionally is paramount to success.
Show that you really understand them, or at least want to understand them.
Developers know a lot about a great many things and sometimes it can be challenging to work with people who don’t understand the concepts they’re trying to convey.
Assume they’re smarter than you. (They are.)
Here’s the thing. We. Are. Geniuses. And we’re not subtle about it. Sometimes a developer’s ego can get in the way of communicating effectively with a client, so it’s worth stating that as much as a developer wants to help, and wants to code your software, they probably have some significant ideas on how to make it successful.
Specify exactly what you want.
A developer receives a text from his wife that reads “Please stop at the store and pick up a gallon of milk. If they have eggs pick up six.” He comes home with six gallons of milk. His wife says “why on earth did you get six gallons of milk!?” He replies, “BECAUSE THEY HAD EGGS!”
Being explicit in what you’re looking for can go a long way with developers. I get it… we’re weird. We’re very literal. But it works when you’re mired in a world defined by logic and algorithms.
Don’t pull the “I’m the business guy” card.
I’ve received this a lot when it comes to asking a client questions about how they would like their software designed. A developer understands the separation of expertise between themselves and their clients. If a developer is coming to you asking questions that you feel the Developer should be answering, understand that they are doing so because there is a business reason behind the question that they don’t know the answer to.
Whatever the timing is, assume it will be longer.
Knowing how long it takes to build software and providing an accurate estimate is always a challenge. Many times, the unknown issues or hindrances are simply too great to account for when estimating times.
Finding out what does not work also takes work.
Software development will occasionally need to take a completely different tack. Whether this is because business needs have changed, or for support reasons, or even because of compliance standards… the approach may need to change.
Meaningful projects inspire good code.
One of the things I like to do when discussing a software development project with a business owner is to really get into the weeds of what their business does. When a business owner starts talking about their business, they get passionate. When they get passionate, it shows; and it’s easy to buy into that passion. Once the development team is on board with the mission behind the project, it will inspire them to create a great project.
Working the brain is just as hard as weightlifting, but invisible.
Believe me… some days after a marathon session of coding and development, my frontal lobes feel like two runny eggs. It’s challenging, and it can be exhausting. Recognize that the work a development team does is just as difficult as any workout.
Hopefully, these tips will help you communicate more effectively with your development team!