Use These Tools To Increase Your Tech Team's Efficiency
Productivity is a vital area of concern for a lot of people and even more so for those who work for small firms or are entrepreneurs. Working with small teams entails multitasking, and if a person is working for a startup, then one must be at their productive best in order to keep up with the pace of growth. This also mandates ensuring that the team is working at full capacity. To ensure peak performance, tech tools can play a major role and can help boost return on investment tremendously if chosen wisely.
Having had the opportunity to work for a tech startup, I firmly believe that an efficient and productive development team is the key to a firm’s growth and to a large extent defines how quickly the firm is able to surpass its competitors. We belong to a generation where technology has the answers to almost all our work woes and there is absolutely no dearth of tools when it comes down to solving a problem. But with this comes the paradox of choice, and some firms/teams may end up making unfruitful investments in the hope of leveraging technology to solve business problems.
I believe it is important for one to ponder on the following questions before finalising on tools aimed at enhancing a team’s productivity:
What is the kind of problem that you are trying to address and at what scale? – Are you having trouble in communicating to fellow employees due to introduction of new verticals or are you having trouble setting deadlines for your next product release?
Who will be the end users of the tool? – Will the tool be used by a developer or a product manager or both? Both these positions have their own set of challenges to deal with and projected targets to achieve.
How many people in the firm will use the tool? – Some tools provide free subscription on the basis of the number of team members who will be using it for a single project. Also, for smaller teams, investing in tools that are designed to track projects involving a large number of people doesn’t really help.
What is the urgency of introducing the tool? – Do you have enough time to assess two to three tools before finalising on any one? Assessing the opportunity cost in this case becomes extremely important. I personally prefer assessing the trial versions of multiple tools by using them for a single product release cycle before zeroing down on the final tool of choice.
After obtaining the answers for the above questions, shortlisting tools from an array of options becomes extremely easy.
In my opinion, there are four broad functional areas where product teams and tech firms can introduce tools to streamline their workflows and eliminate inefficiencies:
Tools like Jira, Basecamp, Asana, Mingle and Trello are popular in this category. For teams largely consisting of developers, Jira proves to be an excellent tool that enables smooth assignment and tracking of tickets. A popular alternative to Jira is Basecamp which provides smoother design integration compared to any other project management tool. For smaller teams, Trello is the go-to tool.
Coding and Code Management
Git is the most preferred tool used by developers for version control and is an open-source industry standard. The preferred tool for code management and team workflows is GitHub. Gerrit by Google is another popular alternative. For technical documentation one can use either GitHub Wiki, Confluence or one can set up an in-house MediaWiki. Amazon Web Services (AWS) can be relied upon for faster deployment of services and easier management and monitoring of servers.
Sketch is the tool which comes to mind when designing quick flows for user interface. Marvel and InVision are industry standards for interface prototyping. To ensure that the designs get implemented perfectly by front-end developers, no matter how complex they are, tools like Zeplin and Avocode are a real boon.
Slack is a must-try in this category, especially if one is tired of those endless internal mail chains. It doesn’t just make communication more transparent between teams but also helps in micromanaging feedback across the firm. My company has benefited greatly by using Slack for reporting app bugs without any delay. Skype for business or Google Hangouts are alternatives that enable cross-functional communication between teams and third-party vendors.
As the saying goes – ‘Better late than never’. So you must give a shot to some of these tools if even 24 hours seems less to your team or if your team is facing continuous delays in product release cycles. Technology, if invested in wisely, can really play a huge role in enhancing productivity and effectiveness of teams, large and small!
Reechal is currently a Product Manager at Roposo, a social network for people who share similar interests. Previously, she has worked in the domain of consulting and analytics at EXL Service (Inductis).
She has completed her MBA from IIM Bangalore (2012-2014) with subjects in Marketing, Strategy and Financial Markets and has majored in Economics (2009-2012) from Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University.