7 Tips for Communicating with Your Developers
As an entrepreneur or intrapreneur advancing the Circular Economy, you need a team of developers if your project includes any significant amount of software.
If you’ve hired the right people, you can focus on what you need to: understanding your users, building a great team, and effectively marketing your project. Understanding of the mysteries of programming isn’t something you should have to worry about.
Even so, with more than twenty years in web development, I’ve seen first-hand how communication problems can slow down or even sink even the best teams, leaving all parties disillusioned and frustrated.
Don't let this happen to you! Anticipating potential issues early before they become a crisis is key to working smoothly together and saving your organisation time and money.
With that in mind, here are my top tips for communicating well with your developers so you can keep your circular project moving.
Tip #1. Work with people who share your values.
Communication becomes much easier when your software developers not only understand your vision, but also share a commitment to the same things you value. At a minimum, it makes sense for your software partners to care about sustainability, software ethics, and fostering a positive working environment. But why not work with someone who understands the whole picture of resource efficiency, regenerative practices, and creating a more equitable world through the circular economy?
Naturally, developers who understand the importance of these values will be far more invested in the success of your project. No doubt, you’ll enjoy working with them, and they’ll add value to the project.
Partnering with a team who genuinely cares about your project can make a big difference — not just in the end product, but throughout the whole process
Tip #2. Encourage them to be your partner, not just a “vendor”.
Whilst you want to remain the owner of the project, giving plenty of input on features, budget, and project timeline, a true software partner should be just that — a partner, not just a “vendor.”
If you’ve found a top-notch developer team for your circular project, invite them to give strategic input throughout the process. It’s your vision, but you need their help bringing it to life and discovering what will work in practice.
Of course, at the end of the day, you’re the one who’s responsible for the results and success of the project. Helping your developers understand why the project is important — and what the stakes are if the project misses the mark — will equip them to do their best work.
Tip #3. Remember that the code is not the goal.
Whether intentionally or not, coders can sometimes disappear down the trap of seeing excellent code as the ultimate goal. Even though it’s understandable if your developers live and breathe code, make sure your coder is focused on the value to the end user above all. After all, your project is only a success when it delivers real benefits to its users and makes a real impact on the world.
Very often, budget and timeline crunches can cause teams to lose their focus on the user benefit in the final stages of a project. The clearer you are on the features your project needs to succeed, and the more you communicate this upfront, the more likely your project will be a success.
Tip #4. Make sure you have access.
The last thing you want in an expensive and complex project is to get locked out of your project for any reason.
Ensure that you have ownership, control, and full access to domains, hosting, and source code. Even if you don't use them regularly, you should have logins and admin roles on the various accounts attached to your project.
Tip #5. Listen to your gut.
Time and time again on software projects, I’ve seen leaders ignore a gut feeling only to discover their gut was right. Or a variation on this — keeping quiet just to keep the project moving and the team happy.
If any aspect of the process feels "off", pay attention and say something. Clear, early communication will help prevent small issues from becoming big ones.
This is important for any technology project, but especially in an emerging area like the circular economy where best practices might feel new.
Tip #6. Fix problems early.
Speaking up early when things don't make sense helps ensure that any issues don’t get out of hand. If you have questions, it's the job of the developer to answer them honestly and openly and to address your concerns in a timely manner.
This is a crucial aspect of managing your resources. In most situations, there are no guarantees that funding will still be there for a future phase of the project. Addressing issues with your developers proactively – but of course with trust and respect – is essential.
Tip #7. Know when to find someone else.
No coder is irreplaceable. If you've done all that you can on your end to hire the right team and communicate effectively with them, but the project still isn't coming together in a way that makes sense to you, it may be time to move on. Your project is important to you, and you should feel assured that it's important to your software developers as well.
Which brings us right back to the top of this list.
Choose your development team wisely, and you can head off a number of potential communication issues. When your coders share your vision of delivering real benefits to the world by bringing your idea to life, it's far easier to get the results you're looking for.
At HappyPorch, we specialise in custom software engineering projects for the Circular Economy. We’d love to help you with your circular project – and communication is one of our strong points. Reach out and we can get a conversation started.
Not ready to chat? Feel free to listen to our podcast episode with our client Reath to get a feel for how we work and the kinds of projects we take on.