As the outsourcing industry continues to grow and global spending on outsourcing is projected to hit $731 billion this year, the Dedicated Development Team Model (DDT) remains one of the most popular ways to engage with software development vendors along with IT Staff Augmentation and Full-Cycle, Project-Based Outsourcing.
We’ve discussed the in-and-outs of hiring a Dedicated Development Team including the best use cases, details on forming a team, and the benefits it could bring as compared to other approaches in the How to Hire a Dedicated Development Team in 2023 article. This time, we would like to focus on the management aspects to provide you with the fullest perspective possible on this matter.
The Dedicated Development Team model can be a great solution for companies that want to increase their capabilities, savings, and revenue thanks to extended software development expertise. In order to achieve maximum efficiency while using this type of engagement, it is essential to realize that an important role is played not only by the added expertise, but by proper management too.
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On the surface, the challenges that come with the Dedicated Development Team model approach are similar to those in outsourcing in general and include possible communication issues, and the lack of visibility and control from the client’s side. But if we dive deep, the challenges are extended to accurate planning of each sprint and the nuances in the team itself, including effective teamwork, proper task delegation, motivation for the personal growth of each expert, and flexibility to change the development direction fast.
Without efficient management, it is impossible to get the most out of this model and leverage the skills and potential of every individual involved. In fact, with poor management, achieving entire project success could become questionable and may lead to time and money waste for the client company.
We, at SPD Group, have years of experience in creating teams for businesses in multiple industries and different sizes. We know how to get the most out of the small teams of 1–2 experts that are able to start a project ASAP, as well as create 100-200+ teams for our big projects like PitchBook and Poynt that are flexible enough to adjust to the possible scope-related changes.
In this article, we will gladly share our experience on the topic and provide you with our perspective on the management of Dedicated Development Teams. The top 10 strategies that we will mention below are based on our own 17+ years in software development, and we will highlight the most important things about each of them.
What is Dedicated Development Team Management?
The Dedicated Team Model is a format that we try to work in with every outsourcing client we have. The reason is that Dedicated Team Model allows us to work with maximum efficiency and take the fullest responsibility to meet the client’s business, product, and engineering goals. We build a cross-functional team with Front-End Developers, Back-End Developers, Quality Assurance Experts, and all other experts required in order to achieve full-cycle development capabilities. A vital element of this cross-functional team is, of course, management.
While In different companies the definitions may vary, we believe that the Dedicated Development Team Management process includes finding the right approaches for completing the tasks in order to achieve the set goals, managing tasks, monitoring progress, adjusting the size of the team in accordance with the scope changes, and making it possible for experts involved to grow and feel comfortable at work.
More often than not, few people share all these responsibilities, taking on different roles. The Product Manager takes responsibility for what to do, the Project Manager decides how to do it (what processes and approaches to use) and when to do it (due dates), while the Tech Lead takes over all technical aspects.
Additionally, there is a role of a People Manager, who solves all possible internal conflicts and helps developers with career growth plans, salary reviews, and personal development. In our company, the Project Manager usually also acts as the People Manager, while another person with deep technical insight takes the role of a Tech Lead.
In our company, we also have the role of Delivery Manager, who usually manages multiple outsourced projects, being responsible for the performance of each project’s development process, communication approach, transparency of the processes for the client, financial balance, and profitability. The responsibility for the signature of all contacts and future agreements with the client lies with the Delivery Manager.
The closest thing we can compare Dedicated Development Team Management with is IT Staff Augmentation Management. The latter has an outside People Manager with far less context of the project, while the Project Manager and Tech Lead roles are often on the side of the client. With the IT Staff Augmentation Model, management-wise, we end up with less responsibility for the full delivery cycle.
Top 10 Strategies for Efficient Dedicated Development Team Management
So, if you decide to build your team, you should be aware of the most influential factors in terms of the overall success of the project. In this section, we will talk about the most important ones with specific examples from our practical experience to help you avoid any possible pitfalls.
Setting clear goals and expectations
Before thinking about the team structure and considering candidates, the client should define their business expectations and set goals, as well as analyze the available resources.
Often, we determine the goals and expectations for the project during the pre-sale phase, before signing a deal. We involve our Project Managers, Delivery Managers, and, when needed, domain experts and developers. This is a must for any project, and the importance of accurate planning here can’t be overestimated.
This process is not exclusive to new projects. Our project Poynt, for example, already had multiple Dedicated Teams working on it. However, when a new development direction was set we re-determined the goals and expectations all over again to offer the most effective involvement possible.
Establishing clear lines of communication
During the development process, you need to make sure that existing communication, both client-vendor and internal, is sufficient and effective.
As for the internal communication, we follow Agile methodology and SCRUM framework. Daily syncs, grooming, and planning sessions, retrospectives after sprints, and additional calls with clients help us to maintain clarity.
When we have a completely independent development process with only the CEO, Tech Lead, or a System Architect on the client’s side, it will be one type of communication. However, if there are Developers, QA’s, and Project Managers on the client’s side, these experts will be added to our processes and meetings, necessitating other types of communication with more involvement from the client.
For DDT in general, regular communication is required with Product and Engineering Managers as well as Business Lead, on the client’s side. Keep in mind that in practice the amount of communication is being adjusted and optimized throughout the development cycle.
Regular progress monitoring
Weekly demos, both for the vendor and the client, is probably the most important progress monitoring tool because it allows seeing minimal changes to the product on a regular basis. Additionally, daily syncs are also vital to monitoring progress inside the team and discussing current achievements and blockers.
We use demos as one of the main tools for monitoring the progress of our projects. However, we should keep in mind that there are other SCRUM ceremonies, like retrospectives that allow participants to review the flaws of the process, make adjustments, and improve the overall progress, as a result.
Encouraging collaboration and teamwork
Everyone’s input in the development team should feel important in order to boost the morale of each individual. We use SCRUM activities like daily standups, grooming, and planning sessions (in which ideally all developers are present) for setting up a workflow and communication process that allows promoting everyone’s contribution.
Besides, client demos are shown by different people. We give different experts an opportunity to show the results to clients, and this works as an encouragement tool as well. It is not just about encouraging participation and improving engagement and motivation, it is also about wider communication with each expert being able to comment on features and propose ideas, which will result in a plus for the project.
Building trust and fostering a positive team culture
Without trust, nothing will happen: this is a key element in all human interactions. Here, at SPD Group, we encourage people to voice their opinions on each element of the development process and suggest improvements. Positive culture and trust come as a result of this.
Additionally, the People Manager role includes maintaining positive attitudes and working with each expert on improving their attitude, when needed.
Effective delegation and task management
We have multiple projects, where the Project Manager delegates some of the tasks to be more effective. For example, when PM combines the roles of Project Manager, Tech Lead, and People Manager, it is reasonable to delegate scope management of the particular sprint to some expert, or even delegate the meeting facilitation for the scope grooming. A back-end developer with a positive attitude can easily take over such tasks, and in real-life scenarios, it happens very often.
Empowering team members and promoting individual growth
Task delegation is also a powerful tool for empowerment and the promotion of individual growth. In our company, experts can try different roles. For example, a proactive back-end developer, when there is a necessity and there is an agreed decision with a Tech Lead to do so, can take responsibility for creating an architecture for a certain feature of a product.
At SPD Group, we have a Talent Management Department. Combined with the efforts of the People Manager, they create individual PDP (Personal Development Plan) for each expert working in a team. PDP allows an expert to become better while working within the confines of a product. An expert can try a new framework, switch to automated testing, try a Test-Driven Development (TDD) approach, or anything else that could unlock individual growth and match the goals of a product.
Keeping the team motivated and engaged
In addition to aspects that we already mentioned like trust, task delegation, and empowering individuals, there are other things that can help keep the experts engaged. From SPD Group’s side, it is also the overall positive environment in the company and the benefits packages.
We actively promote the attitude that we do not just write the lines of code but create products that change the world and improve lives. It is an extremely important thing that keeps people motivated even when there are massive challenges.
Staying flexible and adapting to change while managing software development teams
Agile and SCRUM are the basis for flexibility that we have in our projects other methodologies, and frameworks will not work as well in case of project changes.
Our clients often have the need to add features during the active development phase of a product, so we have to change or expand our team by adding the necessary expertise. In some of the recent cases, we’ve had to add an entire Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning module to one product, and QA Automation experts to a project. The entire development process got affected, and it successfully quickly and effectively altered to integrate the new types of experts. Their work was added to the development communication processes.
Continuously seeking ways to improve and optimize processes
You should be prepared for a constant dialogue between the client and development team, seeking ways to find more creative approaches to team configuration, internal processes, and communication.
The Project Manager is responsible for this area because based on our experience, it is possible to prevent, discover, react, and take action to eliminate blockers. An efficient PM can uncover ways for improvement during daily meetings, retrospectives, and one-to-one meetings with developers.
As a recent example of process improvement, we had an overload in a team working on one of our major projects. The experts were working with an extremely high load for a few months. Investigation showed that the management on the client’s side had put unprecedented pressure on our team and the manager on our side accepted the high volume of tasks, despite it being too much for the developers to work on comfortably. We fixed this situation and adjusted expectations on both our and the client’s sides, and as a result, we significantly improved the overall quality of work, climate inside our team, and development process.
The points we’ve discussed in the article is only the tip of the iceberg. In practice, in each individual case, the above strategies become much more nuanced. Every client we have has different requirements and expectations for a DDT, so we have to continuously adjust our approach and use all of our practical experience to make it work.
The strategies outlined in the article play a key role in achieving the results of a project, while staying on time and on budget. It all starts with setting realistic goals for the vendor and having reasonable expectations on the client’s side. After that, all areas matter, including communication and management approaches.
If you are a company or startup owner, you should treat the Dedicated Development Team as your remote software development department. Also, you should bear in mind that even with the best set of experts it is impossible to achieve the highest results without effective processes and skilled project management. While DDT-related project management depends heavily on the expertise of the vendor you choose, you can work on improving processes on your side by optimizing the infrastructure and the communication tools and approaches your in-house experts use to interact with remote teams.
If you are a Project Manager looking to improve management practices or have new experts joining, it will be a good idea to start with honest and detailed one-on-one conversations. You need to make sure that not only does every team member clearly understand what is expected, but why it is expected. All individuals must feel important and valued, as well as have the freedom to speak their minds on any aspect of the project development process and possible improvements. People that are involved in actual software development know better than everybody else about the possible development challenges that might occur and can suggest changes to end up with a better product. So the PM should create an environment for this. Additionally, some other elements like empowerment of individual growth and keeping motivational levels high are just as important.
For smaller projects, it is possible to set up a certain product development process and approach to management and just adhere to them throughout the product development lifecycle. However, for bigger, ambitious products, the scope of which is changing, as well as for the team members involved on both the client’s and vendor’s sides, there will be challenges in Dedicated Team Management that will require a reaction. Hopefully, with the information in this article, you should be aware of what direction to take!
What is dedicated development team management?
This is the process that includes finding the most effective approaches for completing the tasks in order to achieve set project goals, managing tasks, monitoring progress, adjusting the size of the team according to scope changes, and making sure that everyone in a team is feeling comfortable.
What is the role of the dedicated development team manager?
The role of this manager includes the position of Project Manager, Tech Lead, and People Manager. More often than not, those functions are delegated between multiple experts.
What are the top 10 strategies for efficient dedicated development team management?
The strategies include:
1. Setting clear goals and expectations
2. Establishing clear lines of communication
3. Regular progress monitoring
4. Encouraging collaboration and teamwork
5. Building trust and fostering a positive team culture
6. Effective delegation and task management
7. Empowering team members and promoting individual growth
8. Keeping the team motivated and engaged
9. Staying flexible and adapting to change
10. Continuously seeking ways to improve and optimize processes
Why is it important to have good dedicated development team management?
It is important because having good management is a key factor in maximizing the efficiency of all experts working in the DDT.
How can these strategies be implemented in practice?
First, you need to conduct an analysis of the current state of performance of your DDT. After that, you will see the weak areas and should be able to implement some of the aforementioned strategies in order that particular case requires.
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