One of the basic goals of any business is to increase productivity. The more efficient a person or process, the less time is required to complete a project. The natural byproduct of increased productivity is an increase in the bottom line.
In the world of software development, cramming is nothing new. Sometimes it’s due to tight deadlines for projects, or last-minute software needs when a new product or service is about to launch. But often it’s due to individual developers who aren’t trained correctly in efficiency.
Regardless of whether you’re in the process of information architecture data modeling or performing research, efficiency is the key to smoother workflows and a polished final product.
I firmly believe that good CEOs encourage training, and great CEOs demand it. One of my demands as CEO of the software solutions company I founded is training in efficiency, which combines multiple elements from disciplined time management training to various communication skills such as proper email etiquette.
Numerous articles are available online that offer advice on how to polish personal efficiency and productivity skills, but I want to share the top five concepts that leaders should share with their teams. Some may seem simple; however, it is often the simplest ones that we overlook and that hold us back the most.
1. Distraction-Free Work Environments
Sounds elementary, right? Take a look around and observe the desks in your workplace, including your own. A cluttered desk often equates to a cluttered mind. It’s more of a psychological thing than the appearance itself, but regardless, keep your work area clean. In order to foster a work-friendly desk, consider what is indispensable for effective performance and eliminate any unnecessary items.
Clutter does not mean just physical clutter. Constant email reminders, instant messaging or social media notifications are also major distractions that can eat up chunks of time. Keep these turned off, and designate a time to check emails and phone messages. If a matter is urgent, the person who needs you will find a way to grab your attention.
Noise and workplace conversation can also be a distraction. Many of our developers block out extraneous noise by listening to music via headphones. If your developers are sporting headphones, this means they are in the zone. Don’t disturb them.
2. Planning Strategy With End Goals In Mind
You know what the desired product needs to be, so before you even get close to the keyboard and start developing, start whiteboarding the necessary steps. Depending on the project, start with the finished product and work backward. It’s amazing what you can discover from this process, such as finding code you can reuse.
When planning your project, determine code language in smaller chunks, which simplifies the process and allows for more reusable code. And remember to stick to your goals — sometimes developers find things that inspire an entirely new project and go off on a tangent. Make notes on new ideas, but return to the project at hand and complete it.
An analogy I find helpful is to think like a writer who outlines stories before actually getting to the task of writing. I’ve found that it simplifies my workflow, especially when I work in manageable chunks to reach my desired outcome.
3. Communicating With The Team
Just like in everything else in life, communication is key. Make sure you’re absolutely clear with your team about what they should be working on each day. Also make sure your team has time to communicate among themselves. At certain stages of development, others may have ideas or experiences that can help move the project along more quickly.
It is also important to develop and maintain a shared document folder of solutions that your teams can access. This practice can help save valuable time when developing future projects. For us, we continually update our shared folder of solutions, and have developed quite a reference guide that will surely continue to save time on future projects.
4. Learning More Than The Latest Tech
For software developers, it goes without saying that it’s an absolute must to remain up-to-date on technology, but I think additional education about your overall business and clients will further streamline efficiency. This is because it keeps you informed on the latest trends within your industry, what innovative tools others are using, and provides the opportunity to network and target potential partners or talent if needed.
Know what company is doing what, and build a strong rapport with all of your clients. While working with clients, learn about their industry. This can lead to repeat clients, and the initial learning curve in understanding that particular industry will no longer be an obstacle.
At our firm, we did just that with our first energy client. We learned about the energy industry, and this translated into landing additional clients within that space. By learning about your client’s business, you will garner traction as a specialist in certain verticals, and people will naturally want your expertise.
5. Health And Knowing When To Stop
Maintaining your health is another basic tenet that is frequently overlooked. A healthy lifestyle contributes to a healthy career, so take care of yourself. Eat properly, exercise, and get an adequate amount of sleep. A smooth running system directly correlates to efficiency in the workforce.
Pushing yourself to exhaustion is counterproductive. The software industry is known for its “hack” workers who pull all nighters. Though the initial workflow may seem productive, it subsequently takes its toll on the person, both physically and mentally. This can ultimately hamper progress for the next few days. Instead of overdoing it, strive to be productive daily. Things will run more smoothly and effectively, and so will you.
One of the basic goals of any business is to streamline workflow to become more productive in less time. Though simple and often overlooked, I’ve found the five tips above essential. The faster you began streamlining operations in your company, the faster your bottom line will grow.
You can read this article on Forbes.