Software Engineering Manager’s Secrets for Success
The transition from software developer to software engineering manager can be quite a challenge. Suddenly, you’re moving from a job that’s very technical to one that benefits from strong social skills. At the same time, your role as a software engineering manager involves being very proactive in developing your team’s capabilities. You’ll find that your pathway to success relies upon continuously improving how you work with three simple things – people, processes, and technologies.
Support Your Team
A survey of 563 software engineers survey of 563 software engineers by Microsoft indicated that 75% favored software engineer managers with great social skills even if they had average technical skills. Of the 15 main characteristics associated with great software engineering managers, half relate to social skills. The Software engineering manager job description shifts you away from coding to making sure your developers have everything they need to do their job. This means knowing all of your team members and areas of specialization so you can best pair them together for code reviews. It may mean using software development performance analytics so you can objectively measure their code quality, efficiency, and productivity, to identify areas for improvement.
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Microsoft’s Top 15 Characteristics of Great Engineering Managers
- Maintains a positive work environment
- Grows talent
- Enables autonomy
- Promotes fairness
- Recognizes individuality
- Inspires the team
- Supports experimentation
- Clears the path to execution
- Drives alignment
- Builds culture
- Guides the team
- Is available
- Facilitates interaction
- Is technical
- Builds relationships
Everyone else in your company is also part of your team. Work with your HR team to create a career development program and increase awareness of continued education opportunities. Pop into sales and marketing for 15 minutes a month – you may improve on how they describe technical services and new technologies – to help attract new clients. You may also have tips to help automate tasks in other departments.
Double Down on Project Requirements
The Project Management Institute’s 2018 Pulse of the Profession shows that many of the reasons behind a project’s failure relate to issues with project requirements. Poorly defined project requirements increase the chances for changes mid-stream in development – increasing costs and causing delays. This mandates being thorough in defining product vision statements, roadmap, detailing requirements with a checklist, while defining the business goals and performance metrics integral to evaluating project success.
Working with project requirements focus on processes. Engineers can quickly boost KPIs of new teams by creating and enforcing a coding standard. Adopt style guides for frequently used programming languages. Define what is “Good Enough” to avoid perfectionism causing delays. Define resources developers are encouraged to use to avoid reinventing the wheel.
Source: PMI’s Pulse of the Profession: 2018
Optimize Your Team by Project
Every project is different in terms of its technology stack, programming languages, components, and more. With over 70% of developers using Git as their Version Control System, it also makes sense to use automated software development analytics services like Gitential or Waydev. Their analytics make it easy to track individual developers in areas like code churn, efficiency, productivity, and countless other metrics. You gain additional value in finding out who your best developers are by programming language, by coding quality, efficiency, and productivity. Developers challenged in some languages can be assigned shorter, simpler tasks, while you divide the balance to your best developers.
Strive to constantly find ways to improve your team’s main KPIs like quality, efficiency, and productivity. The focus here is on the constant rollout of new software and technologies. You’re looking for tools that can help enhance your team’s KPIs and automate some of their work. Watch for third-party solutions that work well with and offer a cost advantage for projects you frequently work with. As a bonus, you can prepare your team for emerging and next-generation technologies.
In all cases, do your due diligence before adopting anything. Read reviews of new products first to see if they are worth the time investigating. If a product looks promising, where appropriate delegate it to one of your team members to review, test, and evaluate based on a checklist of your requirements. If it fails their review, there’s no need to test it. When it comes to evaluation, it is important to quantify the cost to adopt or integrate into your workflow versus its recurring benefit.
Don’t Stop Here!
Success as a software engineering manager doesn’t end with these four tips. But, these four tips will help to keep you focused on the continuous effort to improve interactions with and between people, processes, and technologies. Keeping this focus will inherently drive you to examine ways to compound your improvements enriching your team to continuously produce better quality software more efficiently. Your C-level executives, team members, and customers will love you.