Working with a dev shop is an entirely new experience for many. It is for that reason that we assembled a primer on the process that we share with our new clients to help them navigate the world of software and agile development. What applies to us applies broadly to other shops as well; we have summarized the high points of our own personal “user manual” in the hopes of improving client/developer relationships everywhere!
Understanding Software Development as a Process
Software development comes with new terms, new concepts, new acronyms, and likely new ways of progressing a project forward than you may be used to. Approach the process with curiosity and ask any and all questions that come to mind as your work progresses- there is no such thing as a “stupid” question.
Agile methodology allows development teams to move quickly and iterate on feedback. There are many ways to employ agile in development practices, and it’s likely your development team is happy to walk you through how they manage their development process at any time. To learn more about agile at a high level, we recommend the Agile 101 and 12 Principles pages on the Agile Alliance website. The page also offers a glossary and videos that illustrate the basics of agile.
Communicating a Clear Direction
The most important thing in bringing success is a clear direction. This means a strong mutual understanding of what is in scope and what is out of scope. The direction should be focused on desired outcomes rather than specific means of reaching them.
The clear direction should also be realistic. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither were Facebook, Google, AirBnB, Netflix…the list goes on. Comparison of your product to large, well-established products should be limited to specific features rather than overall functionality.
Communicate About the Whole Business
Your technical product is one element of your business and should be aligned with all other facets - business development, marketing & sales, operations, and so on. By keeping your dev team informed of the broader plans of the business, they can do a better job of identifying and prioritizing features to help the business as a whole reach its goals.
The ability to successfully communicate asynchronously allows dev teams to move much more quickly. Quick turnaround of action items, feedback, and information requests allows for maintained momentum. When the dev team makes new releases, begin testing the work they’ve done and submit bug reports for any element not working as expected.
Finding Your Stride
It would be great if we could have a one-size-fits-all instruction manual for how to handle every collaborative effort in our careers, but fortunately (in terms of innovation) and unfortunately (in terms of convenience), diversity of thought, diversity in team dynamics, and diversity in skill sets necessitate that we put effort into actively creating a strong partnership. It’s great to have a standard approach to beginning a relationship, but continuous feedback and iteration should be used to refine and enhance collaboration.
About Mile Marker
Mile Marker is your strategic partner for agile software development. Created for founders, by founders, we offer strategic software at startup speed. We specialize in aligning your technical work with your business goals through collaborative planning, offering a multidisciplinary development team, and ensuring ongoing support for your software. If you’re searching for a software development company or need a technical partner, start the conversation with an introductory call.