Getting the right team for the ‘job’ can be challenging and there are a number of things you’ll need to think about when finding the right kinds of humans to help you build great technology products. Over the years, I have been responsible for managing more than a few teams across various tech builds and I have noted there are at least 7 factors you should consider before you choose your team.
First things first! Before you wildly step into a recruitment frenzy it is important to work out the scope of the project, including the various tasks that need to be completed in order to get the job done and from there you should be able to highlight the various roles required for the job. You will also need to ascertain the complexity of each role. If certain parts are going to be particularly challenging you’ll need to find those people that operate well under pressure. When defining the scope of the project you need to really dig deep and identify (accurately) tech elements for development. Are we talking interface, integration or high loading?
Quite simply you need to know how fast you need to turn your project around. Understanding timelines and comparing that with team capacity will also help you select the right team members for the project. If it’s a quick turnaround time then it’s best to fill your team with more senior staff as they are likely to work a lot faster than your junior team members.
In the ideal world, you’ll want to take on projects that give you at least a 4–6 month lead time. Of course, this is not always possible but you should always follow best practice and that starts with a strong tech lead who will guide your project team. Your ideal tech lead will be able to accurately predict almost all of the risk in architecture, have the ability to do several critical reviews of the structure, work in a stable and productive lead time.
When you find yourself in the opposite scenario with an expected first release in little over a month then you need to accelerate this process, your tech lead should be able to create an “interim, short-term plan” that can be affected immediately with the hope that at first release you have a solid part of the project done and then from there you can go into a more detailed development plan.
Are you working for a new or existing client? This parameter should feature strongly when selecting your team members, especially those that will work closely with the client. If you’ve been working with the client for a while you are going to know how they like to work, how they provide information and how they behave.
This means you can match your team members more accurately with your clients, knowing that they will understand each other well. In the case of a new client, it is best to match them with a more senior team that has more experience working with a diverse set of clients. Senior staff are more likely to anticipate a client’s needs than junior staff who are still learning the ropes.
It’s important to have a range of ages in each team. Having a group of 20 somethings with only one person in their late thirties can mean that the challenges faced by the group could be dealt with a very one-sided approach. We’re not ageist here, so this means that the same is likely to happen if you have an older team and only a few young bloods in it. Getting a good age set will also mean you’ll have a balance of knowledge, experience and the fearlessness that comes with youth.
Age is not the only determiner of experience. Some people may have worked across several roles making them great multi-taskers while others may have specialised in one specific area making them your subject matter expert. So when compiling your team always get a good mix of skill set, have senior, mid and junior developers work together.
I would also recommend that you remain cognizant of that old epithet that says “too many cooks spoil the broth” so be sure that you have a maximum of 2–3 seniors in the group and then fill the rest of the team with mid and junior humans.
I’m sure you’ve gathered by now that the number one recommendation I would make when creating a project team is to make sure it’s made up of a good mix of age, experience and capability. I’d like to add one more important category to ensure your team compliments itself: gender equity. Have a solid mix of men and women in each team. Both sexes in a team mean you’ll really have all your bases covered. You can expect diverse solutions and perspectives.
Using these parameters has helped me build great teams that work well together and that clients love. I hope they help you when you’re putting together your next tech project team.
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