Working with developers can at times feel like walking through uncharted territory. Is collaborating with developers really such a frightening task that it forces even the best communicators to walk on eggshells? Or is it a simple case of misconception?
It is exciting when your startup ventures in a new direction, with several developers working alongside you, towards the company's vision. Maybe you have been working with some of them for a while now, or you are new to establishing a partnership with them. Don't worry, we have got you covered!
Make working with a developer less of a chore and more of something you look forward to.
A developer always looks for the optimal way to solve a problem. For this, it is essential that they know what vision you have for the startup, as well as the end goal of the project.
A great way to ensure this is by including them in the initial planning stages. It is always best to start a project with a fixed plan in mind. It makes the development process much easier for the developers and gives them a good understanding of the project, too.
Further, it allows them to figure out the best way to reach a solution and provide a realistic timeline for completion.
Unless you are certain about the development process, do not make the mistake of assuming how easily or quickly the tasks will be completed.
Most startup problems are caused by miscommunication between project managers and developers. More often than not, the tasks that you deem simple, might end up requiring in-depth analysis and detail.
Before assuming the level of difficulty, make sure you discuss it with the developers, and ask them to provide a reasonable timeframe to complete it. This reduces the risk of misaligned timelines, and frustration felt by all the teams involved.
Most developers spend the majority of their time in front of multiple screens with their headphones on. Also, they have a look of intense focus on their face. This may suggest that they are not interested in engaging with their team or socializing, but that is not the case.
Just like composing music, development requires a lot of focus. Once your flow of thought is interrupted, it becomes very difficult to find your rhythm once again.
The best way to deal with this is to let them be when they are in their zone.
Of course, you will have to check up on their progress. Be sure to let them know a time beforehand so that they can plan accordingly. Do not show up unannounced at their desk and ask them to walk you through the entire project.
Rather than seeing developers as a cog in the system, see them as colleagues or even friends. Make an effort to understand some of their basic lingo, so that you can easily understand the progress when you are being updated.
Make sure to show that you appreciate their efforts, especially if it is something they took time to do. As a result, you might even become great friends with them.
Developers will also adhere to your requests faster if they feel that you “get” them.
If there are three tasks that might take half a day each, and a single task that takes the whole day, a developer will prefer to finish the three tasks so that they can get those off their checklist.
Therefore, it is crucial that you give them a fair idea of how to prioritize the tasks. It allows them to manage their time accordingly.
Most development teams follow an “agile framework”, which means that they frequently hold quick sprint meetings. Make sure you attend their agile meetings. If you feel stuck at some point, ask them to spell it out for you. They will welcome your initiative.
In addition, attending these meetings will also give you more knowledge to add to your engineering jargon. Thus, it will be easier for you to follow the subsequent meetings.
An MVP requires developers to know their customers, which means that they will require a good amount of data and specifications. Make sure to provide developers with clear details about the problem and the expected solution. Do not give them a vague outline or expect them to solve an open-ended problem.
That being said, after telling them the what and why, take a step back as they arrive at the how and when. Assess if this is a viable solution that makes everyone happy. If not, renegotiate.
Logic is the driving force of an engineer. This is why they may have difficulty accepting your lofty ideas and imaginative discourses. Make sure that you give them a logical explanation of how a particular feature can boost the performance of the startup.
Seeing the direct correlation between their work and the growth of the company gives them a great incentive to move forward with the project.
It is natural to expect that a product will come out finished and perfect, especially when you are very aligned with the ideas that drive a startup or organization. However, this is hardly ever the case.
Keep in mind that all great products are delivered in versions, with a number of iterations and updates. This approach takes a lot of pressure away from the engineers as well as management.
An engineer or developer needs to be aware as to whether there may be future changes required. This allows them to prepare a flexible code and stay on track.
All that being said, building an MVP together is your end goal. You will realize that working with your developers can be a lot of fun when you all share the same vision for the project and agree on it.
It creates a mutually respectful and beneficial environment to work in, allowing both the business and product development to thrive hand in hand.
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