The average company loses more than 20% of its productive power to “organisational drag”. That includes all the time teams spend digging up requirements, or coordinating on the status of designs, updates, and everything else needed to bring a product to market and keep improving on it in the long run. Imagine how much faster products could be developed or how much more robust a piece of code would become if developers had 20% more time to focus on their work. Luckily, there are tools out there that can help teams achieve exactly that.
Organisations like ITV, the UK’s largest commercial broadcasting network, are already resolving incidents six times faster since introducing a centralised communication platform to coordinate actions.
This piece will examine how the effective use of these workplace communication tools can keep the development cycle agile and efficient. Especially as teams are nowadays often spread out across many countries and time zones, these tools bring them together quickly, ensure everyone is on the same page, and allow developers to spend more time focused on what really matters: shipping code and squashing bugs.
Communicate with purpose
A good place to start is setting up dedicated communication channels for each team and project. More than just a place to organise conversations, these channels automatically create an archive of knowledge that’s searchable by everyone in your organisation. Especially for bigger projects it can be helpful to organise these channels by teams, projects, products, services and function, with the aim to keep conversations focussed and work streamlined.
If you commit to doing most of your work in public channels, when someone needs more information to move forward — like the details of the last release — that information is readily accessible. Any more sensitive conversations can take place in private channels or direct messages. Once these channels have been established, it’s all about setting the right notifications to alert you and your team of relevant messages.
Whether you need to hash out a set of changes to a pull request or huddle around an urgent incident, with apps and integrations teams can bring notifications from a variety of systems into channels where their discussions are already happening, so everyone can identify potential issues and work through solutions.
Not only does piping system alerts into public channels make it easier for managers and people from other teams to stay updated on progress, but resolving issues as a team in channels creates an automatic, time-stamped audit trail that can be useful in reviews and postmortems. And less juggling between multiple apps and logins means less context switching. The key here is to break out of the default settings and really make notifications work for you and your team.
Once channels and notifications have been set up, it’s all about bringing more of your daily operations into your communication platform so that team members can support each other in delivering their highest quality work and spotting potential issues before they bubble up.
Share the knowledge
Team members should be encouraged to share the work they are doing across their chosen communication platform to increase collaboration and transparency. Managers can streamline their management responsibilities and find out who’s working on what, the status of a project, and identify any blockers by moving team standups into shared channels, for example.
One key piece of advice for developers to maintain quality and stop worrisome trends in their tracks is to create dedicated triage channels where people from across the organisation can report bugs, issues, and irregularities. It would be a good idea to assign a team member as “triage captain” for the day to help field questions and route top-priority issues to the right teams.
Reducing development time by 20% won’t happen overnight, but by implementing robust, efficient and transparent communication channels, teams can cut the clutter and prioritise getting their work done.
Sourced by Johann Butting, head of EMEA Sales at Slack
Jeh Kumar is a veteran of creating and managing digital content to build relationships for organizations and individuals.