Developing Team Efficiency in the Post-Pandemic IT Landscape
There is no successful formula on how to manage a team and maximize its efficiency. But we can strive to improve as many processes as possible to achieve better results.
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When Covid-19 struck in 2020, it affected every sphere of our daily lives and worldwide economy in ways most people couldn't have imagined. As the lockdowns forced everyone to work remotely, and most brick-and-mortar businesses went online, thousands of companies were about to face unanticipated changes.
On the one hand, the global pandemic profoundly affected every business and team management process. But on the other, the pandemic has been the most significant driver of digitalization for U.S. and European businesses.
According to the Flexera 2021 State of Tech Spend Report, one of the top concerns of CIOs in 2022 continues to be digital transformation.
A report by McKinsey states that the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies by several years. The vast majority of these changes will remain even after the Covid-19 pandemic has passed. During the global pandemic, many consumers transitioned to online services, and companies and industries responded by staying competitive under these new market conditions.
Despite historic job losses in some sectors, others saw unbelievable growth, especially in the IT sector. A vast majority of businesses were forced to shift to online and remote working conditions. This led to a significant rise in demand for IT specialists. "Digitize to survive" became the motto for our post-pandemic world as it demanded new software solutions and digital strategies.
The methodology of organizing a highly productive team
Hiring a team is no easier than leading it or maximizing its efficiency. With so many employees working from home or moving to the hybrid model, organizing a highly productive team is a pretty challenging task.
According to Gallup's 2020 State of the American Workplace, two-thirds of employees are either disengaged or not engaged at all. They're just doing their jobs without a real desire to make something bigger and contribute to the company's success or mission.
However, there are successful team structures, processes and methodologies you can adopt and apply on your own in order to assemble and nurture a highly productive team. At my company, we apply various tactics and methods to maximize efficiency. These include:
Setting measurable personal and team KPIs
Reduced response time
There is no fixed formula that can help you maximize the efficiency of your team. It's a mix of skilled PMs, well-planned processes, detailed planning, all-in-one collaboration software, AI-driven analytics and automated testing that can increase a team's productivity.
It takes time for a new team to "gel" and work at its full potential. Bruce Wayne Tuckman identified four stages of team development in 1965. Teams tended to move through forming, storming, norming and performing. In 1977, Mary Ann Jensen, a student of Tuckman's, added the fifth stage, "adjourning," and defined five stages of team development:
Forming: This is where team members first meet. It's important for team leaders to introduce every team member, including the remote ones, and highlight each person's skills and responsibilities. This way, everyone knows where to go for answers. Team members go through onboarding to learn about project details. It's important for individuals to not only get to know their own responsibilities but each other's as well.
Storming: It's a rocky stage when team members may challenge the leader and each other. Disagreements and conflicts cannot be completely avoided, since there are different points of view on how to approach issues a team is facing. Team leaders can smooth this stage by managing competition among team members, streamlining communication, and making sure everything goes as planned.
Norming: After individuals work through conflicts, they will have figured out how to work together and build a highly productive team. All the responsibilities and goals are clear. There is no internal competition. Each employee works more efficiently once they learn how to share ideas, listen to feedback and work in a team. Now, the leader starts to serve as a facilitator, offering guidance and encouragement.
Performing: This is when higher performance is achieved, but it doesn't come easily. Though teams are in sync and work more efficiently together than at any previous stage, some issues still come up. Only now do teams have strategies to resolve them without compromising deadlines and progress. The team leader can focus on delegating responsibilities.
Adjourning: Teams complete their first project and analyze their performance to find strong and weak points that could be improved for future projects. Team leaders can organize brainstorming meetings to consider ideas and thoughts from team members.
All teams go through these five stages of team development. But as a team leader, you can accelerate the process of assembling a highly productive team. It is easier to find the key to a team's success if you can identify which development phase your teams are in. So, how do you assess a team's success? At my company, we take advantage of the following benchmarks to measure the excellence of our teams. Here's what the process typically looks like for us when we develop software projects for our clients from scratch:
Collect the needed info.
Work out the high-level requirements.
Create the first prototype (proof of concept).
Test and gather user feedback.
Define the scope of work for the first interaction.
Technical preparation for development.
Roadmap with estimations.
Best practices for setting up efficient team project management
If everyone knew what to do and when to do it, there would be no need for project management. There is no successful formula on how to manage a team and maximize its efficiency. But we can strive to improve as many processes as possible to achieve better results.
We asked our delivery officers to share their best practices for setting up efficient project management for their teams. Here's the list of their 11 best practices acquired by working with teams, managing teams and delivering thousands of projects:
Ensure successful kickoff meetings with clients.
Define the scope of the project and its goals.
Maintain consistent communication.
Implement a feedback loop.
Create a project plan.
Plan for setbacks.
Avoid uncontrolled changes in a project's scope.
Keep documents up to date.
Be aware of your team's workload.
Schedule retrospective meetings for more insights.
Even when strictly following all of these best practices, there is still the possibility of things going off the script. According to PMI's Pulse of the Profession survey, only 69% of projects remained in line with their original goals.
Related: 6 Steps to Building a Great Team
Nurturing the best leadership
While growing your business, it's vital to have a strong leadership team. The success of future projects depends on the skills and capabilities of the PMs. They are responsible for overseeing the project, understanding both the business context and the technology involved, and managing the team.
According to McKinsey, 71% of large software development projects end up costing more than expected. Boosting leadership is crucial for improving the overall outcomes.
Nurturing leadership has been the new norm ever since companies realized how to successfully overcome a crisis — they need professional leaders. Some people are natural leaders, but anyone can develop the right skills.
When assembling a team and maximizing its performance, you also have to grow as a person and as a leader. You have to grow as a team leader for your team to grow.