How to lead development teams effectively?

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Our experience has shown that to deliver most value, teams need team leaders.

While a software team lead or manager may be a given for most internal software development teams, it’s less straightforward when it comes to outsourced teams. In team augmentation, outsourced team members join the client’s team and are usually managed by their manager. But what about the standalone external teams aka dedicated teams?

Here’s the way we do it – our dedicated teams are, as default, lead and managed by our expert Team Leaders. Why? Because this is how our clients get the most out of their teams. But that’s not the only reason. Let’s look a bit closer.

Developers’ motivation and the importance of leadership

The importance of effective leadership and its impact on team member motivation is undeniable. Team leaders are there to guide and mentor their team members, help them uncover their best and keep them motivated while making sure that work answers their interests and ambitions.

The lack of motivation is directly linked to higher turnover. People who feel stuck and miss the challenge are more likely to look around and are more susceptible to headhunters’ offers. In such competitive market as the tech, the last thing you want is to lose your key developers and their knowledge.

Motivating a development team – two aspects

So, to keep the development team motivated and to bring most value to clients, a Team Leader at Future Processing focuses on two important aspects:

  • Ensuring the team is cared for
  • Ensuring the team delivers value to clients

These two aspects are interconnected. For example, by encouraging the team to tackle complex challenges, urging them to innovate and challenge the status quo, the team leader motivates the team and brings value to the client in the form of out-of-the-box ideas and cutting-edge solutions. Therefore our Team Leader’s role serves both the client and the team members.

Development Team Leader’s responsibilities

So what does a development team leader do? Their responsibilities and amount of development work or management duties will vary across companies and projects. Let’s look in more details at a Future Processing Team Leader’s role in leading a software development team.

The development team – a Team Leader’s role

At Future Processing’s a team leader has a number of responsibilities relating to the development team. Here’s a snapshot:

1. Ensures team satisfaction and engagement

A Team Leader is there to ensure people stay motivated, curious and truly engaged in the client’s project. They aim to foster the sense of belonging and responsibility and to support the team mentally and physically. A Team Leader monitors team spirit, team morale and helps prevent burnout. They ensure effectiveness, motivate, and provide feedback on performance.

Why does this matter to you as a client? A happy team means better results: more creativity, ideas, and engagement in your project. It also means lower turnover and knowledge loss. The approach works for us – our turnover rate is 11,5% compared to 14,4% as the average in Polish tech (data as of 2021).

2. Ensures the development of your team

It is a Team Leader’s role is to ensure the team develop themselves as per client’s organisational and project needs, as well as the team member’s own personal growth goals. This means a competent bunch whose knowledge and skills stay up-to-date with the latest tech and remain relevant to your needs.

Why is team development important to you? When your team grows, you grow. The focus on growth directly impacts work results – from process optimisation to the use of the latest tech, tools, and methods. On the project level, you know it is going in the right direction as the project goals are cascaded by the leader to the team in the form of performance objectives.

The client – a Development Team Leader’s role

1. Takes care of your project

A Team Leader is responsible for iteratively delivering project outcomes, on time, in budget and in accordance to the Best Practices in Software Development (BPSD). They discuss priorities, the stream of work and the backlog. They plan project work in your chosen methodology (Scrum, Kanban, etc.), monitor progress through Delivery Success Indicators (DSIs) and share the outcomes.

A Team Leader ensures transparency of all work, acting as your point of contact for any project-related matters or KPIs/data. The result is a well-planned and well-managed project. It is also being optimised and monitored for an even better efficiency and quality. This significantly reduces your burden of team & project management.

2. Monitors and analyses project risks

A Team Leader discusses project risks and proactively looks for new threats and opportunities. If needed, they can use tools like risk registers and responses, Risk Breakdown Structure, impact and probability evaluation, etc.

Why does it matter to you? Project risks are mitigated for you – having a person in charge of project risks means you have them monitored, registered, analysed and mitigated appropriately.

3. Guarantees the implementation of The Future Processing Way

The Future Processing Way is our unique approach to delivering the best software for our clients which we have evolved since 2000. Through given behaviours, methods and tools, a Team Leader ensues this approach is displayed by the team members.

Why is it important to you as a client? What you get is a partnership with outstanding results. The implementation of The Future Processing Way means clients know what to expect from us in terms of the way we work. Throughout the project, they benefit from our technical expertise, a predictable and high-quality delivery, a trustworthy partnership, our operational agility, and our strong work ethic.

4. Listens and responds to your needs

One of the goals of our Team Leader is to truly understand your business and what we’re trying to achieve together. Once they know the challenges, the requirements and the ambitions of your organisation, they will ensure the context of creating your solution is understood by every member of your team.

Here’s why this is important to you as a client – what you get is a perfectly fitting solution. Letting a development team into the business will help them understand what you’re trying to achieve and what you’re struggling with. And when they understand, they can advise and act accordingly. The result is a product that perfectly answers client’s needs.

5. Manages personnel changes

A Team Leader ensures any personnel changes are managed well. They help pick new individuals with specific roles and of specific seniority, sometimes even by conducting technical interviews for you. They process any personnel changes efficiently, aiming at building a dream team of people who come to you with solutions, rather than problems.

This means seamless collaboration with your team in times of change. A Team Leader minimises the impacts of any personnel changes on your project ensuring smooth progress of work. They do this through a solid handover of domain and tech knowledge, and an in-depth introduction of newbies to your project.

6. Sorts out admin

A Team Leader is there to do the line management and admin duties related to your dedicated development team. They plan resources, process absence requests and sort out your invoices with the Finance.

This means you can focus your energy where it matters most. Through their work around the team and finance admin, a Team Leader simply saves you time and hassle.

A development team leader – client’s point of view

It is always interesting to see how other people from our peer group view a particular issue. So, we spoke to one of our clients – Arif Govani, Chief Digital Officer of Datapharm, from to see what he thought of Krzysztof, the leader of their dedicated development team.

Here’s what he had to say:

The role of your team lead, I underestimated that a little bit. I thought we may not need that. Because we have an in-house team, just small, and I really thought that maybe we can absorb that, with our in-house team. I really underestimated it, because it was needed and it’s needed even more now. So, what does the Team Leader do? He is definitely conduit between the business, as in us, and the team itself. That is one layer – it’s needed. The other one, which is very important, is the motivation and morale of the team. That is not to be underestimated how important that is. He’s done a great job and he makes sure that if there are any concerns, the developers or whoever – QA, the UX – are heard properly. So that is really important. He’s done a great job and I can see how critical that he’s to our success. It’s not just about the developers who cut code, it’s actually much more than that.

Conclusion: How to Lead a Development Team in the Modern World

Team leadership is, without doubt, a key skill in the tech industry. So what do the team leaders need to lead their development teams effectively? Apart from honesty and integrity, the role requires a good balance of people, organisational and project management skills, technical knowledge and business acumen. But on top of that, we believe, a great team leader requires to have the skill of marrying the interests of their team members and the client and joining the two perspectives in a mix which will benefit both groups in delivering value.

Need a software development team to boost your business? We are here to help you.

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