Effective tech team management

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Slides from Business Dilemma: Effective Tech Team Management event ( http://www.meetup.com/WebDevelop/events/169701452/ ).
Presentation shows some key topics at the heart of disconnect between business and tech and ideas to bridge the gap.

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Effective tech team management

  1. 1. Effective Tech Team ManagementTopic : Milan AdamovskySpeaker : 04 / 24 / 2014Date : http://milan.adamovsky.comBlog : milan.adamovsky@gmail.comEmail :
  2. 2. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 2 Goal: Bridge business and tech.
  3. 3. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 3 • Familiarization • Perception • Acceptance • Innovation • Estimates Agenda • Profiling • Manage • Dragons • Expectations • Productivity • Meetings • Quotes • Fear • Misstep • Recap • Deadlines • Positives
  4. 4. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 4
  5. 5. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 5 • Experience spans 17 years in web development field • Field spans across startups, mid, and large companies • Industries span logistics, media, consulting, financial • Every presented item does not apply to any single company • Every company gets some things right, others wrong Preface • Generalizations based on first and second hand experience • Negativity represents the issues at heart of our dilemma • Entire presentation is highly subjective and opinionated • Presentation is for informational purposes only
  6. 6. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 6 Profiling: Learn who’s who.
  7. 7. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 7 • Executives, managers, product owners, project managers • Business visionaries • Trained and experienced in coordinating efforts • Ultimately responsible for the deliverables to the end-user • Trained and experienced in business matters and soft skills Who are the business people? • Mostly academically educated individuals • Accountable for the success or failure of projects • Owners of projects • Recipients of potentially higher bonuses and enticing perks
  8. 8. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 8 • Team leads, developers, the geekier the better • Prioritize technical lingo over business mumbo jumbo • Thrive as technical problem solvers • Emphasize hard skills over soft skills • Often undersell themselves Who are the tech people? • Mix of self-taught and academically educated individuals • Less business, more creative • Personalities span wide spectrum from introverts to explosive • Require organization and structure to be effective
  9. 9. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 9 Familiarization: Understand each other.
  10. 10. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 10 • Operate at macro levels • People interaction is a necessity • Social skills and diplomacy drives success in field • Golf, travel, entertaining clients, drinks • Driving revenue for business What’s the landscape like for business people ? • Communicate in sentences • Meetings, meetings, meetings • Importance placed on image and presentation • Breaks down business needs and wants for tech
  11. 11. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 11 • Operate at micro levels towards macro levels • People interaction optional to excel • Technical skills and sound logic drives success in field • Coffee and long days behind computer with sleepless nights • Driving deliverables for business What’s the landscape like for tech people ? • Communicate in numbers • Generally work best uninterrupted • Shorts, t-shirt, flip-flops is a dress code • Convert sentences into numbers
  12. 12. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 12 Perception: It’s not what it looks like.
  13. 13. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 13 • A tech is a tech and therefore can be cross-functional • Everyone is replaceable • Tech should have excellent communication skills • Tech should understand how business works • Tech should adapt to understand business folks How does business see tech ? • Tech doesn’t understand business • More meetings will better communicate needs to tech • Tech are resources measured in numbers • Tech are subordinates
  14. 14. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 14 • Needs are not clearly defined or broken down • Lack of business accountability and source of blame games • Insufficient or absent shielding from business forces • Disruptive to getting the job done • Meetings take away time from tech productivity How does tech see business ? • Business doesn’t understand tech • Unrealistic expectations • Condescending communication • Paycheck
  15. 15. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 15 Acceptance: It is what it is. Deal with it.
  16. 16. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 16 • Show tech that business listens to that voice • Take time to understand raised tech concerns • Show tech you need them • Match tech with their skill set and passion • Do not corner tech into work they are not interested in What can business do? • Give tech a voice • Tech can find new job extremely easily • Most tech jobs pay in the $100k-$150k range • Remember: technology powers business
  17. 17. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 17 Innovation: An opinion… everyone has one.
  18. 18. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 18 • Listen to everyone’s input • Defer tech decision making to most senior tech • Have a tech appointed a tie breaker (e.g. architect) • There are many ways to achieve a same business goal • Discourage consensus driven tech decision making Who should business listen to? • Define a clear chain of command in tech team • Do not be afraid to enforce tech standards • Tech thrives in structures, standards, and conventions • Business thrives in processes, procedures, and formalities
  19. 19. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 19 Estimates: Involve the worker.
  20. 20. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 20 • Re-estimate if someone new takes over work • Do not pressure tech with deadlines they were dumped into • Deadlines need to be properly managed by business • Hold tech accountable to their own estimates • Business must proactively follow-up on progress How do we deal with estimates? • Do not hold one tech to another tech’s estimates • Estimates are guesstimates and should be revisited regularly • Ask tech what they can achieve within a time period • Manage expectations and resources according to tech’s insight
  21. 21. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 21 Deadlines: This is where management shines.
  22. 22. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 22 • Commit to deadlines as a team • Extending deadlines dilutes sense of accomplishment • Adjust deliverable scope but keep deadline if necessary • Reward tech with a breather if deadline is met • Deadlines pressure can trigger writer’s block How do we deal with deadlines? • Coordinate deadlines with tech • Recognize when complex problems are solved • A simple pat on the back goes a long way • Show genuine interest in learning cause for missed deadlines
  23. 23. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 23 Manage: Do your job and let them do theirs.
  24. 24. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 24 • Speak as a team equal • Do not hover over the shoulder to expedite work • Interact in terms of tickets • Exercise care to give credit where due • Plan, break down, and delegate tasks How should I manage a tech? • Provide clear direction • Proactively manage status of tickets • Manage burn out rate by not overloading techs • Exercise reason and coordinate new work with your techs
  25. 25. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 25 Dragons: Hold the fort.
  26. 26. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 26 • Walk-by favors • Scope creep • Requirement alterations • Unclear requirements • Outside forces What to defend techs against? • Meetings • Disruptive team dynamics • Overtime • Mis-management by management at any level
  27. 27. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 27 Fear: Listen to those in the trenches.
  28. 28. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 28 • Do not punish failed efforts • Manage turn over rate as not to hurt morale • Identify areas of discontent • Observe management as a possible source for tech stress • Take decisive action in presence of fear Is my team afraid? • Encourage for concerns to be raised • Listen to issues through the grapevines • Embrace uncomfortable information constructively • Do not take “everything is great” for an answer
  29. 29. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 29 Expectations: You get what you put in.
  30. 30. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 30 • Address one issue per ticket • Link related tickets • Attach as much documentation as possible to ticket • Do not wait for tech to ask for more information; have it ready • Communicate clarifications and details within ticket How to effectively communicate expectations? • Communicate in tickets • Attach any outside correspondence to ticket • Transfer verbal communications post-mortem to ticket • Never ever repurpose a ticket
  31. 31. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky2/27/14 31 Productivity: Compare apples to apples.
  32. 32. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky4/24/14 32 • Focus on clarity of requirements • Break requirements into digestible chunks • Clearly document requirements • Apply a bullet point approach versus novel style • Offload tech from having to worry about project management How do we get things done? • Plan requirements thoroughly • Triage issues before passing them off to tech • Business owns miscommunications in requirements • Learn from Art of War
  33. 33. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky2/27/14 33 • Every ticket has different levels of complexity • Match task complexity with competency level of tech • Demonstrate awareness of task complexity to tech • Keep an eye out for techs who only pick easy tasks • Complex tasks’ time vs. output can be visualized exponentially How do I measure productivity? • Do not compare number of tickets between techs • Simple tasks’ time vs. output can be visualized linear • Observe a tech delivers what he or she committed to • Optionally manage task completion percentages for each tech
  34. 34. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky2/27/14 34 Meetings: Don’t look busy. Be busy.
  35. 35. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky2/27/14 35 • Meetings are necessary but often overdone for techs • Decisions should simply be passed on to tech in tickets • Invite tech leads to meetings and save others • Disruptive to a tech’s workflow • Break in concentration needs costly ramp-up time to return What impact do meetings have on tech? • Business loves problem solving via meetings • Reserve meetings to beginning of day before work begins • Techs see most meetings as a waste of their time • Meetings covering technical issues tend to be more welcome
  36. 36. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky2/27/14 36 • Time box meeting to no more than five minutes per person • Have someone track time and interrupt spill over • Encourage more of a status meeting for tech • Reserve more chatty meetings to leads • Discourage questions and discussions to form So how do we effectively meet ? • Apply a stand up format • Web cams are effective for remote teams’ attention • Phone meetings are less effective • Show genuine interest in what is being communicated
  37. 37. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky2/27/14 37 Quotes: Food for thought.
  38. 38. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky2/27/14 38 • “We are in an at-will state.” • “You did not deliver what was asked.” • “Look it up in the requirements.” • “Did you even read the requirements?” • “All hands on deck.” What are some shortcuts to distance a tech? • “I am your boss !” • “He did the estimate, now you need to deliver.” • “Don’t bother the client with questions.” • “You have to work weekends until further notice.”
  39. 39. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky2/27/14 39 Misstep: The don’ts of management.
  40. 40. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky2/27/14 40 • Don’t compare tech to tech • Don’t compare tech to business • Don’t make close-ended statements • Don’t make snide remarks • Don’t give back-handed compliments What should I never do? • Don’t compare anyone’s achievements, progress, hours • Don’t oversimplify or down play complexity of issues • Don’t offer rhetorical help • Don’t be a prevaricator
  41. 41. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky2/27/14 41 Positives: Small things do great things.
  42. 42. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky2/27/14 42 • Surprise them with a physical token of appreciation • Show appreciation personally and publicly • Flexible work arrangements and flex time • Take time to meet with tech one-on-one to catch up • Provide guidance to empower your tech to grow and advance How can we motivate? • Treat them like humans • Take out your team on your dime whether they know it or not • Manage a tech’s health and refuse engagement if overworked • Money works just as good on tech as they do on business
  43. 43. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky2/27/14 43 Recap: Simple things to remember.
  44. 44. Prepared & Presented by Milan Adamovsky2/27/14 44 • A ticket workflow needs to be clearly defined • Break down requirements into single issue tickets • Manage project logistics for your tech • Shield tech from business distractions • Show accountability and appreciation towards your tech What are our takeaways? • Tickets are at the core of effective tech management • Tech does the work, business defines and manages it • Provide a well defined working structure • Take good care of your techs
  45. 45. Thank you for your time and attention. Connect with me on milan.adamovsky@gmail.comEmail :

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