What makes a high performance team?

Team performance and how to improve it can be viewed through a lot of different lenses: the AMP principle, storming/norming/performing, tribal knowledge, avoiding dysfunction, and so on. Those are all valid perspectives and powerful ones, and we  – at Informulate – love our reading! That said, sometimes the most obvious basic truths remains unsaid – so lets cover those foundational aspects here because you can’t build high performing teams without a strong foundation. 

Five basic truths of high performing software development teams

Here are 5 basic truths you already know but for some reason haven’t been able to really dial it in:

  1. Complimentary skills and personalities: Yes, culture is important but if you have honesty and a desire to grow – you will naturally absorb the culture around you. But more than unity you need diversity in skills and personality. 2 front end and 2 back end developers sounds good in theory but what if the front end devs don’t have graphics experience? Or the back-end devs are more middle tier guys and weak on database architecture? Knowing the sub-specializations is key. Same with personality: you can’t have all introverts or everyone thinking big and missing important details. Know what you need and hire/train for it.  
  2. Estimation: Ooh, some of you just got tingles because that is a SCARY word for developers. Giving an estimate that you are held to – what is this – medieval times? But that is the basics of project execution and I don’t care how much of an Agilista you are (we love Agile btw) – you need to be able to make commitments and keep them.
  3. The 80-20 rule: Immature teams can act like mature teams – for a while. Sometimes a long while, depending on the size of the project. Many well-meaning but immature teams will look at a project scope, and rush to deliver the low-hanging fruit and leave the hard stuff for the end when they blow the budget and timeline because its too late to add resources or change scope. Easy features are more predictable, and burning time on low-uncertainty work will leave less time for high risk work. We front load risk – through technical Proofs of Concept or minimalist workflows we de-risk the project early so that mid-way through the project we know for sure what tweaks need to be made to hit the delivery targets. This makes a huge difference in project outcomes, which is why we consistently come in on budget and timeline.
  4. Starting with Why: This is a culture thing but everyone should be empowered and challenged to ask the Why questions. In fact, Agile retrospectives should build that in so that Scrum Masters routinely share the Why of decision-making. If not, the team is left to behave in a request-response fashion. And then you wonder why teams don’t take “ownership”? Its because they haven’t been treated like owners. Having the right methodology is what brings everything together. Lean Startup and Design Thinking offer powerful methodologies to ensure that the team as a whole is orienting with the customer and their problem as the north star.
  5. Feedback: Feedback is like fiber in the diet. Most people don’t like it, but everyone needs it. Without high trust and emotional safety though, feedback can make things toxic and be used in political battles. But in organizations with the right culture, feedback accelerates growth and continuous improvement to levels where in a year or two the team is on a different level. Radical Candor is a great book – and its principles are what we aspire to here at Informulate.

Get the basics tight

At the end of the day, a team is just a group of people trying to accomplish an outcome. If we start to lose sight of basic things as discussed above, then a team never really jumps from average to high performance. Informulate has helped clients across varied industries and size to maximize their software investment through end-to-end delivery of digital products and transformation through powerful methodology.

Need help with software development and/or best practices? Reach out to us at [email protected] to learn how our assessments can help you get a clear perspective on code quality, architecture, security, functional quality, performance, team best practices and much more.

Why I’m going to the Lean Startup Conference AGAIN

The biggest names in the tech/startup world will be there. You come away inspired and energized. You hear great stories and experiences. You make great networking connections. But what truly sets it apart is the actionable content you come away with. It immediately changes how you work, consult, build products, develop customers, and engage users. New applications of Lean Startup, new methods of validation, new techniques of measurement – every year is different as adoption grows worldwide.

That’s why for me Halloween means deadly disruption, mesmerizing methodology, and sweet revenue models. Lean Startup Conference is like an invigorating jolt of innovation injected intravenously. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself).

Jokes aside, Lean Startup is serious business. Last year, we heard about how data-crunching reading habits can predict Hollywood blockbusters, how TechStars is Scaling Lean using Culture Maps, and how gamification is growing into Game Thinking.

On a personal note, I learned about Behavioral Cohorting and how it can transform approaches to user engagement. Since I’m a Lean evangelist and am passionate about our Orlando community, I had speakers Laura Klein and Ariana Friedlander (speakers at the conference) speak to our local Lean Startup community. And this year will be my 3rd time at the conference. Why? As Eric Ries said:

The Lean Startup has evolved into a movement that is having a significant impact on how companies are built, funded and scaled.

So what’s LSC 2016 going to be like? Follow me @rajtv and check back here in November to find out!

What are your options?

Think through the following aspects to decide what your next steps are.

  • Enhance Vs. Rebuild Vs. Rent: If you already sense that things aren’t perfect with an aging codebase, you need to start thinking about your 3 options: 
    • Maintain and enhance: If you feel the codebase will meet your needs a few years from now, then it may be worth the time and effort in maintaining and enhancing it
    • Rebuild from scratch: If the codebase/architecture will not meet your needs 2-3years down the line – you need to start thinking about rebuilding and migrating the data
    • Rent: Looking at the marketplace of packaged applications or Software as a service is not a bad idea. Your decision should be based on how much of your Intellectual Property and core business functionality is dependent on the software. If the software is not providing a unique competitive advantage then you may be better off using an off the shelf app.
  • Is the current codebase sustainable? First you need to make a call on whether your current codebase can be resuscitated. Your current team may have biased opinions so you need to get an independent assessment on what reality is. 
  • What are your users asking for RIGHT NOW? Customer needs are ever-evolving and your business is too, but how far behind has the codebase fallen in serving these changing needs? It’s not just about is it doing what it was designed for – the question is – will it meet the needs of the future?
  • Is doing nothing actually costing you big bucks? There are two components that could cost you dearly:
    • Inefficiency: Old codebases can be tricky and fragile so adding new features are higher risk, harder to enhance, and slow. This means the same feature built in a brand-new codebase using modern coding practices could be 2-3X faster. Typically support and maintenance are less than 10% of costs for a new codebase with 90% going towards new features. That ratio keeps changing to where steady state is more like 50-50. Old codebases leak money and it adds up.
    • Opportunity Cost: This is an under-appreciated but super-critical aspect of budgeting and decision making. You could deploy resources more efficiently or go after a brand-new customer segment but you are saddled with the current constraints of working with the old codebase. How much money are you leaving on the table for your competitors to pick up?

Unnecessary risks are for noobs

As Donald Rumsfeld said there are 3 categories of knowledge: Things you know, things you know that you don’t know, and things you don’t know that you don’t know. If you get hit by something you never knew about – that’s just hard luck. However, when someone knows the costs and risks associated with aging software and still continues to expose themself to those risks – well they have no one else to blame.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Take the known unknowns and make them fully known with an independent review that gives you the information to make the right decision for the long term.

Need help? Reach out to us at [email protected] to learn how our code and architecture reviews can radically cut costs and improve productivity for your team! Our assessments cover code quality, architecture, security, functional quality, performance, team best practices, and much more.

Informulate helps non-profit fighting homelessness

Informulate is proud to work with a prominent, Florida local non-profit engaged in providing housing and services to the homeless. This 24-year-old organization manages multiple properties that provide housing and onsite staff that provide a number of rehabilitation services. The needs included having a reliable online data entry system, ease of use, tiered authority, and most importantly reports that covered throughput, efficiency, services delivered and outcomes for ongoing grant-compliance.

Informulate went through a competitive bidding process to land the project. The award was made in part due to Informulate’s recommendation to use Salesforce as a platform that helped the client save money and reduce risk by configuring an off-the-shelf solution rather than building a custom application. We look forward to helping an important cause to move forward and scale!

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn

Informulate participates in Orlando Tech Week 2016

What a week we had! Orlando Tech Week 2016 was a blast. With events like the Tech Tour, Future of Orlando conference, a smorgasbord of awesome independently-organized activities, and closing out with Bar Camp – attendees got an all-you-can-eat buffet of various aspects of tech, entrepreneurship, startup life and community.

 

As a proud member of the Orlando Tech Association, Informulate sponsored a Lean Startup Orlando presentation by internationally acclaimed expert on Lean UX Laura Klein. The sold-out event took place on April 21 at The Iron Yard.

 

Laura talked about the basics of Lean UX and the right way to approach conversion problems. She covered various techniques: Quantitative v Qualitative methods, understanding friction, multi-variate testing, and what NOT to do when trying to launch a new product/service. Later the floor was opened for attendees to ask questions and great conversations were had about current technology, upcoming trends and the future of UX.

 

Informulate founder and Lean Startup Orlando organizer, Rajiv Menon had the pleasure of meeting Laura at the Lean Startup Conference 2015 in San Francisco. Read about the trip here. Laura was one of the headline speakers there. Her background in technology started with her first user research session in 1995. Since then, she’s worked as an engineer, UX designer, and product manager at both startups and large companies in Silicon Valley. Her popular design blog, Users Know, helps teams learn more about their users and apply that knowledge to build better products. In 2013, she wrote the “UX for Lean Startups” book as part of Eric Ries’s Lean Series.  She is currently an advisor to several startups and consults with companies that want to improve their research, UX, and product development processes.

 

All in all, this was a great opportunity for the Lean Startup community in Orlando to learn more about Lean UX approaches and we were proud to be a part of it!

When should you upgrade?

What is the right time to upgrade your application? It’s a hard question because it involves a prediction of future outcomes. But if you leave it to chance – chances are you won’t like the outcome.

“Time is Relative.”  – Albert Einstein

 Change is Hard

The default mindset for all humans is to not fix something if it’s not broken. And by “not broken”, we mean “no one is on the floor bleeding”. It’s easy to be okay with the status quo and hard to think ahead to future issues, especially when there are so many other priorities fighting for attention. But managers need to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset and include opportunity cost in the Cost/Benefit analysis. After all, isn’t that what managers are hired to do? Make the best decision by measuring it?

But first – we need to change the definition of “broken” from “on the floor bleeding” to “hmm, this could hurt us”. Here are the warning signs to look for:

  1. Outdated application stack: This one is a deal breaker by itself. If you are working on old server stacks because your application cannot work on a new one you may be opening yourself up to security risks.
  2. Frequent downtime: Does the application go down? Why?
  3. High bug rate: Is your provider unable to maintain a high-quality application?
  4. Performance & Usability: Does the application frustrate your team with slow responsive time and non-intuitive user interface? How much productivity is being lost here?
  5. Outgrown feature set: Your application started out meeting your needs, but as your business has grown is it now a bottleneck? Are you still using Excel to crunch numbers from multiple applications because your reporting doesn’t do it?
  6. Customers hate it: Do your customers like your product/service but hate using your application?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, it may be time to think of an upgrade. You could get the timing of the upgrade wrong, by being too early or too late. Let’s look at the risks.

 

Too Late?

Upgrading too late opens you up to quite a few risks:

  • Security breach: A security incident will be a major issue for the company and may result is lost trust and customers.
  • The Monthly cost of lost productivity: Usability, performance, and inadequate features mean that your team is doing much more work than necessary to accomplish their tasks and this adds up quickly. This is often a huge cost that gets ignored because lost productivity is not discussed unless managers take an interest and investigate it.
  • Rising maintenance costs: Cost of maintaining an outdated application is money down the drain because those costs will not translate into whatever the new solution will be.
  • Delaying the inevitable: If you are experiencing these costs already, then they are only going to increase over time. The sooner the upgrade, the more you save.

 

 

Too Early?

What is the risk if you upgrade too early? You may spend money on a solution that you may later change your mind on. That’s the main one. But if you have been using a legacy application for years, you should have a really, really good idea what your needs are and how the current application is not meeting it. From that experience, you should also be able to get a good idea of your operating and opportunity costs.

So managers, do the math! And make the right, calculated decision for your organization.

Was this helpful? Have a follow-up question? Drop a note in the comment section below.

Ready to engineer innovation at your company? Let’s talk!

We love making an impact!

To request a call, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

We are ready to help you succeed!

To request a call, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

Business Intelligence

To learn more about our Business Intelligence solutions, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

Code Review

To learn more about our Code Review, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

Process Audit

To learn more about our Process Audit, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

Salesforce Architecture Review

To learn more about our Salesforce Architecture Review, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

Digital Transformation

To learn more about our Digital Transformation solutions, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

Product Development

To learn more about our Product Development solutions, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

Team Enrichment

To learn more about our Team Enrichment solutions, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

Process Automation

To learn more about our Process Automation solutions, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

We love building things!

To request a call, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

Salesforce Consulting

To learn more about our Salesforce Consulting solutions, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

We love making an impact!

To request a call, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

We love making an impact!

To request a call, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

We love making an impact!

To request a call, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

Digital Transformation

To learn more about our Digital Transformation solutions, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

We love making an impact!

To request a call, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

Submit Your Resume

To apply for this position, fill out the form below and attach your resume in PDF format. A member of our HR team will review your submission and reply accordingly.