Building on your development team

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Building on your development team
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Stretched internal teams? Finding it hard to get new projects into the pipeline? You're not alone.

Part One

Part TWO

Part THREE

Part FOUR

Having a strong core team focussed on software design and development can be what sets good modern companies apart from the rest. But, this can often not be quite enough. With shifting technologies and the need to pursue ideas quickly, it can be worth considering how you might lean on a good agency partner to augment your core teams.

There are plenty of ways to do this, but some work better than others. As projects get more diverse, there’s an increasing need to bring on agency support.

So, what situations fit well with bringing in an external team?

1. When working with new technology.

As technology continues to create more interesting opportunities and options for developing creative products, it can be hard for a single development team to keep up. Many good developers focus on a core set of languages or problem areas. Moving these developers onto a whole new set of technologies can often be time-consuming, and also may not fit with where your developers want to be spending their energy.

External partners who have expertise in your target technology or platform can bring instant results, and can even help to upskill an inhouse team quickly.

2. Stretched internal teams.

Good internal teams take time to build, and may not always be able to cope with shifting amounts of work as demands ebb and flow. Considering an external partner who can take on extra pieces of work will help you to quickly validate ideas and get things through to production.

3. When working on a non-core feature.

For your core product or service, internal development teams are typically best placed to be able to build upon it and help drive them forward. Alongside this product, however, many companies should be continually looking for new opportunities and experiences that they haven't explored before. Rather than pushing these onto a focussed development team, an external company may be a great option for you to quickly test ideas and deliver change without impacting the roadmap of your core offerings.

4. For outside expertise and ideation.

Getting outside opinion is always a good option when exploring something new. It can help to get around the echo chamber effect of developing something internally, and also gain useful expert opinion and input.

There are also some things that are worth considering to help make sure that your external partner and any internal teams get off to a flying start.

1. Be clear on dependencies.

When multiple teams are creating something together, it's crucial that you define the boundaries, and also set expectations and identify dependant parts.

2. Add just enough project management.

Project management from both sides is crucial, and different phases will require different needs. For example, at the project start, getting everyone together for ideation is normally useful, but throughout you'll want to balance communication with focussed time.

3. Provide good documentation & standards.

To help the external team get up to speed quickly, you can lean on documentation of your systems, processes, and standards. For development teams, this often means documenting your architecture and core integration points, such as APIs. For design teams, consider outlining your standards and design systems. All of this will help to onboard, reduce the need for people to start off on the wrong path, and create a central agreement of interdependent parts.

4. Establish communication which works for both sides.

Getting a meeting cadence that works for everyone is important. Make sure you have the relevant people that you need at the right time. Also, for most situations, leaning on real-time communication (such as Slack or MS Teams) can open lines between those who need it.

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We're seeing more companies decide to augment their internal teams with good support from an expert partner, and for good reason. Thinking about some of these points with your next project will help it get off to a great start.

Written by

Scott Gulliver

Scott Gulliver is the Director of Fluff Software, a software development company based in the South West of England. Scott has been helping large companies to implement software and technology, with a particular focus on digital transformation over the past decade.

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