What are Development Team Best Practices

Gimena Aguerreberry
May 2, 2021

Are you striving to build a top-notch development team that creates the best apps possible?

Not everyone realizes that it takes more than getting the best project management software and hiring elite developers. It's about good project management and making sure that the team works well together. All team members must practice test-driven development and communicate well when they write code.

Easier said than done. You need one of the best development team practices to unite the group and increase productivity.

Strategies such as continuous integration and the agile method are cornerstones of successful software development teams. Not familiar with these terms? That's why we're here to give you a rundown of several development team best practices to apply. They have the potential to completely change your product development, so read on.

1. Write Code When You Need Code

When you write code for product development, you have to understand that building software is a theory and not a dogma. Theories evolve, and if you write code with a plan to use it in the future, the software will have evolved past the use case you had envisioned.

A code review should always bring up code that has been ‘planned’ in this way. Software development teams should continually be building software that is up-to-date with the project's direction.

Project management software can help schedule a regular code review to ensure that team members only write code with a relevant use case.

2. Use the Agile Method for Project Management

The agile method is a constant cycle of building software, using a code review to catch problems, and planning new strategies to overcome issues. It's an effective project management strategy in open-source projects as it ensures that your team works together to improve the product development process every step of the way.

Putting checks in place, such as version control and unit tests, helps team members to synergize when they write code and ensure that all work remains relevant to the software development project and its goals.

If you've not implemented the agile method in your team's workflow, it's a great way to keep your team working smart — not just hard.

3. Agile Method Mk. II — Extreme Programming

Extreme programming is a specific variant of the agile method developed by Kent Beck. Extreme programming proposes meticulous unit tests and extensive code review at regular intervals throughout the life of a software development project. This is to create ‘checkpoints’ at which product development can be adapted for new customer requirements and make sure that open-source code is consistent and relevant.

Using the extreme programming agile method is an excellent project management strategy as it tends to produce high-quality code and minimizes the risk of falling into technical debt.

Management software will help you map out how you could apply extreme programming to your development team.

4. Continuous Integration

Continuous integration is an essential part of project management software if you want to run a successful open-source product development project. Continuous integration automates integration from all team members who write code, meaning that open-source product development happens in real-time.

This enables a code review to encompass work done across the entire development team and makes unit tests more efficient and comprehensive.

Continuous integration complements extreme programming practices and ensures that the team works together through every step of the development process. Continuous integration is a fundamental project management practice for open-source product development and a key component of the agile method.

5. Regular & Comprehensive Unit Tests

Unit tests should cover every single code path. A code review should include unit tests being run with 100% coverage every single time.

Remember that a code review and unit tests aim to make sure your development team catches bugs so that your customers don't have to.

Test-driven development is the best way to avoid embarrassment and have to perform unit tests retroactively, which is time-consuming and can cause many product-development headaches.

Test-driven practices also minimize technical debt, which will happen if you start having to patch things later in the day. Holding a code review every step of the way and performing thorough unit tests may occasionally seem obsessive, but unit tests are necessary to building software that stands up to scrutiny.

6. Version Control

Version control is a form of project management software that allows you to keep track of changes during the development process. Version control differs from a code review, which is about analyzing code. In contrast, version control is about being able to map out the path of the software development project using management software and assess the progress of your team — and reset to a ‘checkpoint’ if need be.

Project management software is vital for successful software development teams, and version control is great for quality control. It works hand-in-hand with extreme programming strategies and test-driven development.

For example, if a code review finds that your open-source code has gone way off course, version control allows you to go back to the last place where all team members were on the same page.

7. Stay Out of Technical Debt

Believe it or not, a frequently asked question is ‘is technical debt good?' You've probably guessed by now, but we don't consider technical debt to be a good thing, and it stands at odds with test-driven development.

Technical debt means telling your development team to find a quick fix for a problem — and then asking them to do the same thing again in a few months when the quick fix unravels. If you fix it properly the first time, you won't fall into technical debt and won't have this problem.

Your team works best when team members are all on the same page, which is impossible with technical debt. Test-driven development is about thorough unit tests and continuous integration to catch problems when building software. If all you do is stick a band-aid on the problem, what's the point of spending so much time on quality control in the development process?

Reassigning a couple of team members to write code to fix a problem every few months due to technical debt isn't a good outlook. The term ‘agile method’ doesn't refer to software development teams constantly dodging bullets.

8. Don't Write Too Much Code

Just as you shouldn't write code with an imagined future use case, you shouldn't write code for the sake of it. The more you write code, the more likely it is that you've made a mistake. Building software is about keeping it as concise and functional as possible.

This saves software development teams so much time — if a code review catches problems in code that didn't need to be there in the first place, it slows down the development process.

Extreme programming is about maximizing quality control when building software and minimizing unnecessary costs and errors in product development. Version control makes it possible for software development teams to go back to a place before a lot of unnecessary code was written, but that's an unnecessary error. Especially in an open-source project, don't write code unless you're sure it's needed for product behavior.

9. Work Through Problems Out Loud

There's so much that project management software can do to ensure that a software development project runs smoothly. The fundamental rule behind extreme programming, continuous integration, version control, and the rest of it is rather mundane: you have to talk. Team members have to communicate to make sure the team works efficiently. It's workplace 101, and it affects all the other processes on this list.

Test-driven development is considered the best practice for software development teams because it adapts this fundamental rule of successful businesses to enhance product development. You avoid technical debt for the same reason any business avoids debt: it's best to have a strong, independent development process and avoid needing emergency loans.

But the only way you can implement these strategies is with clear communication.

Don't be afraid to gather your team together for meetings just to discuss problems. Unfortunately, a lot of development team leaders think they need to know all the answers. However, they fail to realize that several other people are readily available to listen to problems and offer potential solutions.

Don't get into the trap of working through problems in your head; vocalize team concerns through extensive and consistent briefings.

Conclusion: Work Smart

Software development teams are made up of big brains. But it's easy for people to get carried away with their ideas and end up writing a bunch of code ‘just because they could.'

By implementing continuous integration and the agile method, your development team will keep each other in check and on-task. This produces concise code that has been rigorously tested and ensures top-quality product development.

We know these nine strategies will create a more efficient development team. Need help implementing these strategies? Sometimes the best thing for a software development team is an outside opinion.

Contact us to find out how we can help.

"What are Development Team Best Practices" by Gimena Aguerreberry is licensed under CC BY SA. Source code examples are licensed under MIT.

Photo by Sigmund.

Categorized under software development / staff augmentation.

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