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The 21st century executive

3 Tips for Better Software Operations

CIOs and CTOs today certainly have a lot on their plates. It’s no surprise considering the current value of the global software development market. Software products and services are quickly becoming major value differentiators in almost every industry. Even in the face of a looming recession, the high demand for digital transformation has made software and digital presence a top priority–and this trend hasn´t slowed down.

While cost-cutting rides high on the list for enterprises worldwide, software spending is still expected to increase by 11.3% next year. So, when it comes to managing their software development operations and initiatives, CIOs, CTOs, and even CEOs have their work cut out for them.

What keeps CIOs up at night?

For enterprise tech leadership the challenges they face can vary based on their industry and the specific needs of their organizations. With that said, some of the most critical challenges arise from the need to:

  • align software development efforts with their organization’s strategies and goals
  • ensure the technical talent and resource needs of the organization are met
  • manage and coordinate the work of software development teams
  • deliver high-quality software on time and within budget

Successfully tackling these pains is no easy feat. CIOs and CTOs have to stay up-to-date with the latest technology and software development trends to remain competitive. They also need to be ready to respond to changing business needs on demand.

With this mountain of responsibility, it’s not hard to see why CIOs and CTOs are plagued by high levels of burnout. While holding on to top-flight tech talent is a huge concern for many IT and software-dependent organizations, holding on to CIOs and CTOs should also be a high priority. That’s why we’re sharing our top tips for better software development.

*SPOILER*: The secret is improving your visibility.

Why is visibility so important in software development?

Visibility is easily one of the core pillars of successful software development. We have discussed several of the benefits of improving visibility into software projects before. Improving visibility empowers software leadership to:

  • track the progress of individual tasks and milestones
  • identify potential issues or roadblocks that may impact projects
  • adjust the allocation of resources
  • adjust project plans as new information becomes available
  • make informed decisions as needed to keep projects on track

Achieving greater visibility isn’t any single action, but rather comes about through a variety of means. If gaining clear insights into your development budget is a constant struggle the following tips should help.

1. Use project management tools to track progress

Project management tools are widely used in software development teams–and with good reason. Tools like JIRA or Trello also provide detailed reports and dashboards that can show the status of each task and the assigned team members. They also offer great visibility into the overall progress toward completion. CIOs that stay need to stay in the loop can get a high-level view of the project to stay abreast of potential issues or roadblocks and adjust planning or budgeting accordingly. From a strategic standpoint, these tools provide great feedback on the time on tasks and a sense of the overall progress of projects.

2. Maintain regular contact with your development teams

Understanding the progress of projects is one thing but getting a clearer view of any challenges or obstacles they may be facing is another matter entirely. This is why regular meetings, instant messaging tools (like Slack, or Microsoft Teams), or even online collaboration tools are important.

Agile development processes like Scrum are one strategy commonly used to improve visibility in software development. They provide opportunities for feedback and collaboration between the development team and project stakeholders. For technical executives, this can provide rich insight into the progress of projects and gives them a chance to provide input or guidance as needed. By staying in close communication with the development team, executives can get a more detailed understanding of the project and its unique challenges, to provide guidance or support as needed.

Direct communication is often easier for smaller enterprises such as start-ups and scale-ups, but what about larger enterprises? In larger companies where there might be multiple layers between CIOs or CTOs and their software developers, detailed information on ongoing projects can be harder to get. Even so, depending on the priority of the project, taking the time to stay in contact with technical leads and product managers can make a big difference. The real value comes from fostering an environment of open communication and transparency.

3. Use metrics to track progress

While the tips shared above are certainly important, at Foreworth, we believe that metrics are one of the most important tools for improving visibility. Having the right information on every area of your projects can save you valuable time and money. What’s more, detailed metrics and quantifiable insights are actually value multipliers for both productivity tools and direct communication. In our development team, for instance, we use our platform’s automatic, objective, and standardized metrics to better understand how tasks are progressing and where bottlenecks are happening. With the insights we gain from these metrics, our meetings are more targeted and better informed, making them shorter and more useful.

The best part? We can directly observe the impact of the decisions we make and use those insights to guide our development teams sprint-by-sprint and month-by-month. A few of the metrics that we (and our clients) typically use include:

  • numbers of completed tasks
  • the amount of code contributed to specific features
  • aggregated code quality scores
  • overall team productivity

By tracking these metrics, we’re able to identify areas where the development process may be slowing down and take action to address new issues as they arise.

Investment in visibility is investment in the future

Overall, visibility into software development is crucial for any leader in tech. Improved visibility and clearer insights can help you to accurately gauge the progress of projects and identify potential issues or roadblocks. It’s also essential for confident and informed decision-making. There’s no one way to achieve greater visibility into your development teams or projects. It requires a combination of tools, communication, and metrics to really bear fruit. To learn more about how we use Foreworth’s platform, check out our article here.

About the author
Alvaro Marinetto

Working as Foreworth’s, Development Director, Alvaro manages the day-to-day activities of the development team. He helps steer the direction of the company’s new feature development as well as their maintenance efforts.

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