How to Reduce Development Time by Using Fresh, Innovative Solutions

How to Reduce Development Time by Using Fresh, Innovative Solutions

In an ideal situation, your development team is productive and delivers a great app with minimal downtime. Does this sound too good to be true? That usually means it is.

This scenario can’t always become a reality because software development is complex, sprints require significant coordination across an entire team, and projects often have unrealistic timelines and poor planning practices. 

Thankfully, there are ways to speed up and streamline this process. It’s time to integrate fresh, innovative solutions to increase your team’s velocity, speed up the entire process, and deliver quality products. This article tells you all about them. Stick around until the end, where we talk about Bunnyshell’s new Environment as a Service solution and how it can help you make your work even easier.

How to Reduce Development Time & Turn Up Dev Speed

There are many ways organizations try to achieve improved development velocity, but the main ones would be:

> Adding more developers - while you might think this will help, it does the opposite. More team members means that your existing ones will have to spend time working with the new hires to bring them up to speed on the project and the product. Even when they are up to speed, more people can result in further miscommunication and misunderstandings. 

> Trying (desperately) to reach an unrealizable timeline - as you attempt to speed things up, hoping for the best, you may end up bug-laden. Your team will then have to take the time to fix those bugs before you’re able to move on to something else, inevitably slowing you down and sacrificing quality. 

Additionally, there are several complexities that further affect software development speed:

  • Technical
  • Requirements
  • Deadlines
  • Structural 
  • Code quality
  • Your definition of “done” (it means different things to different people) 
  • The size of your team
  • Overall team performance. 

Enable High Velocity Development

Breakaway from the inability to quickly deploy isolated environments of any specification.

Find the Skill Level Sweet Spot

Tasks and sprints vary in difficulty, and developers have different skill sets. While it’s essential to have a balanced team, a skilled team of developers, testers, and designers increases your development speed. Suppose you only have novice devs who tend to focus on every issue for an extended period. That will significantly negatively impact speed, no matter how many people you have on your team. A balanced DevOps team is the key to high velocity, with an emphasis on a higher skill level. 

With a more skilled team, you’re able to:  

  • Give members problems of adequate complexity 
  • Likely avoid chaos and frustration within the team 
  • Have a higher understanding of expectations and better communication 
  • Strategically plan for sprints
  • Have less rework
  • Have higher cost savings.  

Pro tip: Smaller teams are more productive for many reasons: there’s less confusion on what needs to get done, communication is better, and motivation is typically higher. A team of about three to seven people tends to be a sweet spot. Some teams have more members, but a best practice would be to split them up into smaller, individual teams. 

This article talks about the development effort and cost difference of two teams, one larger and one smaller, working on a typical project of 100,000 source lines of code. It took the larger team of 32 people 178 person-months of effort and cost them $2.1 million, whereas it took the smaller team of 4 people 24.5 person-months and cost them $294,000. That’s a total of approximately $1.84 million saved from the smaller team, plus all the extra time. 

How can you get your team to be more productive and have higher cost savings and not only? Read on to find out. 

Break Down the Process Into Smaller Increments

The way each team works is unique for each project and company. However, there are ways to simplify the process to understand it better. Below are a few sprint types every developer has gone through at some point in their career, whether they realized it or not. 

> Extreme sprints - typically involve 12-14 hour workdays with minimal time for sleep or other personal activities. Burnout is fast, and your overall project suffers if devs go longer than a few months with a continuous extreme sprint. While devs will learn many new things and improve their skills, their mental and physical health can suffer, you may lose skilled devs, and the quality of their work may go down.  

> Moderate sprints - involve an 8-10 hour workday, no goofing around, usually no fun. Some companies don’t invite fun, challenging, or interesting work to their projects. People come in and complete their tasks, and this can continue for months, even years. It’ll take a while before some devs realize that they’re miserable, and a project manager may not notice how productivity drops after several months of this monotony. 

> Marathon - involve a 6-8 hour workday, with plenty of time for personal activities. There isn’t a rush to finish tasks at that exact moment, and mental health is a priority. However, many product managers aren’t satisfied with a marathon pace; they want to code, deliver, or test faster. In the attempt to push tasks, they use over time, don’t motivate accordingly, and still expect quality delivery. 

> Intervals - involve mixing options. For example, you could have your teamwork in a fast pace mode (or extreme sprint) for the first month. This means the entire team drops everything else (meetings, events, HR activities) and only focuses on writing code, testing, documentation, and delivery. Then, run a marathon sprint for the following three to four months, where your team isn’t as stressed out and can relax a bit. End it with another extreme sprint to finish up the project. This pace is higher than in marathon mode. 

Higher productivity can result from a combination of any of these types of sprints at any given moment, changed accordingly to accommodate your team (communication is key, so ask your team how they think would be the best way to work), product necessities, resources, and time. Seeing as how pre-planning development is just as vital (as during and post-development) to accurately estimate software development time, take into account the following things when drafting out a plan:

1. Define project requirements to set clear, quality expectations of tasks and end goals for each team member. Communicate with any stakeholders early to make it simple to account for delays or additional work. Then continually monitor for improvement areas. Once you have your basic roadmap, you can set a release date. 

2. Review past project timelines to see how your estimates of previous projects stack up with your current timeline. If, for example, user testing took longer on your last project than expected, adjust the current timeline accordingly. Rough estimates will ground your development time in real-world data, and eventually, your team will become more timely with each project. 

3. Break down work into individual tasks. This is where an agile framework can come in handy with smaller and more frequent releases at the end of each sprint (automation can help here, but more on that in a bit). Planning and meeting times are also factored into your timeline alongside each sprint. 

4. Account for potential delay risks in your time estimations, which can be affected by any team member’s day-to-day responsibilities. Address any constraints before they cause bottlenecks in your development process. Take the following issues into account:

  • Areas where you need customer feedback or internal stakeholder input
  • Any upcoming holidays or team member vacations/time off (mental health days)
  • Key tasks and dependencies to ensure everything is in working order.  

Provide Time to Learn New Things

Besides having a well-crafted plan, you must make the environment where you and your teamwork a place to which they wish to come back. Skilled developers are hard to come by and harder to keep, so you must invest in multiple ways to incentivize them to stay. That means considering other activities other than living, breathing, and only working on a project. Consider the following tactics:

> Dedicate one day a week or a month to learning (if you’re making a marathon sprint). This can include taking courses, reading articles, or checking new technologies (but not working on that day). Advantages are plenty for your team, including a more relaxed work week, acquiring new skills faster, and employee retention. A downside to this would be reduced overall development speed. You must figure out which one is more important and what you’re willing to sacrifice. 

> Organize your own learning events like a presentation or a workshop. Include team members and encourage them to participate to work on their soft skills (public speaking, communication, collaboration, etc.). If you’re a strictly online team, enable Environment as a Service training environments or access to a remote online workspace

> Help people understand the domain better. The world of software development is always changing and growing, and developing new products requires a lot of hard work. Therefore, it’s essential that devs and other members of the team are and continue to stay on the same page. A good practice would be to hire mentors. They will train even the slightly inexperienced devs to bring them up to speed with all new tech or information. 

Use Environment as a Service

Environment as a Service (EaaS) makes your entire process more streamlined. You already know that rework is the most costly kind of work a dev can do. You can minimize its impact with an EaaS to remove bottlenecks and reduce your development time. Also, remember earlier when you were learning about what to pay attention to when drafting out a plan for your team? Well, EaaS is a big help for agile teams, helping them automate repetitive tasks so they can focus on the more vital ones. 

Additionally, don’t forget that an EaaS solution has automated creation of environments, an otherwise time-consuming and costly issue for devs. The code commits within your environment live in isolation, providing visibility at every stage of the process. You can even test in isolation. This makes communication with stakeholders more efficient and increases productivity within your team. You can focus on giving your small team anything they need to reduce development time, so you don’t have to hire additional people or sacrifice resources. Find out about all the other benefits of EaaS here.    

You’ve Got Time on Your Side with EaaS

You now have some ideas of what you can do with the extra time you gain by automating your dev process with EaaS. What are you going to do with it? Will you learn a new skill, learn about a new technology you’ve wanted to test (that new VR headset, anyone?), or teach another team member something? Whatever it is that you decide to do, you’ll know that you’ve built a high-velocity dev team the right way

Enable High Velocity Development

Breakaway from the inability to quickly deploy isolated environments of any specification.