GoInsourcing (known as Kirsch & Kern until July 2023) has gained extensive experience with software developers from around the world since 2004: in the context of client and own projects, by finding and placing developers in the teams of our clients.
Therefore, we know very well which criteria and factors are crucial for project success. In this article, we highlight one very important aspect, namely the communication skills of the software developers used.
- The communication skills of software developers are a key factor in the success of projects, as efficient communication improves teamwork and drives the project forward.
- Communicative software developers are better able to coordinate with colleagues and stakeholders, communicate ideas, solve problems and manage conflict, resulting in more efficient collaboration, better planning and reduced risk of delays.
- When selecting software developers for projects, it is important to consider both technical expertise and personality, to clarify the communication culture within the team, and to encourage informal interaction.
Factors that influence the success of a project
Whether a project is successful or not – in terms of how the work progresses and the outcome – depends on many factors. The more often you undertake complex projects, the more likely you are to ensure success through proactive planning.
In general, it can be divided into human influences and influences that are not directly influenced by the people in the team (because, of course, everything is ultimately influenced by humans, except for major forces such as environmental factors or pandemics).
Things outside the development team that influence the success of a project include: the market as a whole, the competition, the client’s specifications, the budget and, for example, the client’s communication culture.
Good team communication
Let’s now move on to the team members, especially the software developers working in the development team. The classic image – and often the reality – is that a software developer prefers to work undisturbed, in silence. The constant arrangements, whether online or on-site, are a horror to them, which they perceive as disturbing and usually unnecessary.
As is often the case, there is some truth to this, which is why good project management and leadership by the Tech Lead and Scrum Master must take this reality into account.
The agile way of working and the demands of each customer mean that there is an increased need for communication. However, everyone knows from practical experience that coordination and exchange are often overdone. But in general, a constant and efficient flow of communication within the team and with the client is crucial for: 1) the demand- and user-oriented alignment of the software solution, 2) to ensure that the customer is constantly involved and supports the development of the software in all respects and 3) to ensure that any necessary deviations from the development plan and, if necessary, the budget are confirmed by all those involved.
What makes a communicative developer?
So if we conclude that communication is a must and yet developers “by nature” prefer to work undisturbed, at this point we need to define what makes a communicative developer.
Before we get into that, it is interesting to make a small digression at this point. As I said, we have been working with developers for many years: from Eastern and Western Europe, from Latin America, from the Middle East and so on. There are many things that unite them, and some things that distinguish them.
If we compare Eastern and Western European developers, for example, we can see that in Eastern Europe more and different “types” of people study computer sciences than in Western Europe, if only for monetary reasons. In the “West”, people choose to become software developers because it suits their personality best – more introverted people can be found here.
In the East, on the other hand, the generally better mathematical education (compared to the West!) tends to widen the circle of potential software developers; moreover, this profession is often the only way to earn very good money while staying in one’s own country.
So in the East, more and also different types of people are becoming software developers, here it’s not just the introverted technology nerds, but also extroverts and communicative people.
By the way, for our European projects we mainly use developers from Eastern Europe, such as Belarus, Macedonia and Serbia 🙂
This digression was important because many people may want to communicate more but are limited by their personality structure.
So let’s get back to the question of what makes a communicative developer. This becomes clearer when we look at our daily practice at GoInsourcing in the area of onboarding. In general, of course, the responsibility for onboarding lies with our client; we give tips as far as this is necessary and desired.
In addition, each of our new developers goes through a short course on “What is German Quality?”, highlighting the following quality characteristics:
- everyone is allowed to put forward their ideas and criticisms, including new employees
- fast and constant communication (e.g. about one’s own work status) is essential for the success of the team and the project
- when your team leader asks you if you have any problems, or if you see a problem, this is a serious question; it is vital for the project that problems are identified early
- and it is ok for someone to admit that they have difficulties or, for example, have not understood something properly
For some readers, these rules (there are others, of course) may sound self-evident, but from our experience we can say that for many developers – unless they come from northern European countries – this is definitely something new and unfamiliar: “I can say when I don’t understand something? I can say when I see an error?”
Outside the Northern European work culture, there is usually a very hierarchical work culture that does not allow people to contribute openly and honestly. The Anglo-Saxon work culture also has its weaknesses, because here problems are often obscured in very polite formulations.
A communicative work style must therefore 1) be possible from a personality point of view and 2) it must be allowed and encouraged.
The benefits of being a communicative software developer
Finally, we bring the benefits of being a communicative software developer right to the point.
Communicative software developers can:
- better coordinate with their colleagues and other stakeholders. This leads to more efficient collaboration and faster project progress.
- better communicate their ideas. This leads to better project planning and a better understanding of the customer’s requirements.
- solve problems better. This leads to a lower risk of project delays and failures.
- resolve conflicts better. This leads to a more harmonious team climate and higher motivation of the team members.
What does this mean for you when you want to fill a project with new software developers?
- when selecting developers, pay attention to technical expertise AND personality (e.g. by conducting two interviews that are longer and in which you also deliberately engage in small talk)
- make it clear at the beginning of the project which communication culture is “set” for the team
- encourage team members to share information informally more often, preferably offline for a beer
Could we help you with this, was this article useful for you? Feel free to write to me: firstname.lastname@example.org