Effective tools and tips for successful software developers teams

Effective Tools and Tips
By David Easterling

I met with a client yesterday that has a team of four software developers with us.  We have been working with them for three years, so everyone is very familiar and we contribute quite a bit in design phase.  They use Skype for standups and chat and some screen share.  We were talking about the productivity level of our guys and he said “It would be nearly 100% of our local team if I could walk over and show them something on the whiteboard rather than write it up and email it.”  I know there are some screensharing applications like Lync and Skype.   I found one recently called Screenhero that is really good for collaborative screensharing.  It has a great whiteboard application and is free to use.   I believe strongly in maximizing your ability to leverage off-site development staff.  Little tools like this can really help.  Another client was telling me that they don’t have video standups with their off-site people – just phone calls.  If you’re only doing voice, there’s a lot you’re not seeing.  You may notice that someone is checked out or typing or that they really check out when one team member is talking.  They may also show with their body language that they don’t agree with a particular direction you’re taking, but don’t speak up.  You can either address this off-line or in the meeting, but you would never know in a voice call.  Most importantly, if everyone in the standup is at their desk on video, they’re all equal and equally informed.  Little things like that make for a much more productive off-site development experience.