How To Manage A Software Development Team: 7 Best Tips

Understanding software development can be an excellent skill to learn for a career. If it’s something you’ve mastered over time, it’s worth looking into for future success. If you’re a manager, you may have an opportunity to produce great results with your team. Takeaways from this article can help you understand how to manage a software development team.

Even if you don’t know much about software development (SD), you can still manage a team effectively. If you happen to have experience in management, you can easily catch up on how SD works.

  1. Understand The Roles In Your Department
  2. Establish Clear Expectations
  3. Keep Your Team Ahead Of Deadlines
  4. Prioritize Teamwork
  5. Constantly Ask Questions
  6. Communicate Regularly
  7. Avoid Micromanaging

You can still be a manager without any  prior background

In one job I had previously, one of my shift managers had no previous experience or knowledge of the company. In other words, he was not familiar with how our line of business operated.

However, he did have prior management experience before starting as a shift manager. Thus, he could learn how the business works while managing at the same time.

Regarding the software development industry, the same thing can apply to being a manager in this particular area. Throughout this post, I will lay out 7 best practices when it comes to managing an SD team.

Understand the roles in your department

Not everyone on the team plays the same role. Each individual will have different tasks and responsibilities to tackle.

Some of them may be more challenging than others. In that case, it’s worth taking a little extra time to learn about how they work.

How to manage a software development team: Understanding each role can help you figure out how your department operates.

Software development professions

Your SD team will consist of different roles, some of which include:

  • User experience (UX) designers
  • Quality assurance (QA) analysts
  • Machine learning (ML) engineers
  • Mobile developers
  • Applications developers

It helps to have a general understanding of these roles. But if you are new to SD in general, don’t assume that all roles have the same type of work. The roles may be different, and the workload may fluctuate as well. 

Establish clear expectations

For any software development company, there are a number of goals that have to be met. Performance metrics vary from department to department, for example. But there are expectations for people to be meeting expectations, or be above those metrics.

As a manager, you have expectations for each team member to perform well.  Some of these expectations include:

  • Being punctual (i.e. arriving on time and having great attendance)
  • Completing projects prior to the deadlines
  • Make sure your team asks you questions/Seeking help when necessary

By setting your expectations early on, your team will understand what’s expected of them in their roles. Setting them out at the outset prevents confusion later on.

How to manage a software development team: Laying out expectations early on can help avoid confusion later on.

Keep your team ahead of deadlines

When assignments are given out, they have to be done prior to a certain date. Staying ahead of deadlines helps to avoid last-minute pressures. 

If you don’t meet deadlines, there can be some consequences involved. For example, making current clients unsatisfied with not returning to work on time. Or worse, returning poor quality work if your team rushes at the last minute.

Alternative: Set mini-deadlines with your team

One way to tackle deadlines is by setting mini-deadlines for a project. By that, work on smaller tasks that can be completed sooner than later.

For instance, you can set out these tasks to be completed the week prior to a looming deadline. Doing it that way makes it easier for the team to work on a project. 

Working on smaller tasks early on helps everyone put in maximum effort. Also, it’ll result in high-quality work once a project deadline arrives.

Prioritize teamwork

It’s important to understand which tasks need to get done first. Prioritization matters a lot in establishing a good workflow.

As a manager, don’t just assign random tasks to a team member that may not need immediate attention. You may want to ask if a task needs to get done now, or can it wait until later?

It’s good to determine which tasks need immediate attention, and which ones can hold off until later. From there, prioritize your tasks from the top to the bottom of your list.

How to manage a software development team: It helps to prioritize tasks that need immediate attention, and others that can wait until later.

Constantly ask questions

Even if you don’t work in a specific job function, ask questions when you need to know how something operates. Being an SD manager doesn’t always mean you know everything.

It’s good to be curious and learn at the same time, or to be open-minded. Remember, you’re not going to be a master at everything.

Communicate regularly

Communication is vital to the success of getting work done. Without proper communication, it’ll be harder to manage an SD team.

One method is by having one-on-one meetings with each of your team members. That’s a great way to keep track of everyone’s performance on your team. It can be helpful to do that on a monthly basis.

Another thing to do is use project management tools. You can use a variety of tools to enhance communication between team members. Be sure to check out a review (link below) I did on one project management tool a while back.

How to manage a software development team: Communication plays a vital role to the success of any team.

Avoid micromanaging

Micromanaging can be very detrimental to any team working together. Not many people like being micromanaged, as it can make them feel not valued in their roles.

Sometimes, the best thing to do is to step back and trust your team to do their work. You need to give them the space needed to perform their jobs well. If you do that, your team will trust you more (and you’ll end up getting the results you want). 

If for some reason they need you, they’ll ask for help from time to time. If they trust you enough, they’ll be sure to ask for help.

How to manage a software development team: It's important not to micromanage your team member, as that can create tensions over time.

My thoughts on micromanaging

Personally, I hate micromanaging altogether. I’ve been lucky enough to not have any manager micromanage me, as that can be a little intimidating.

If I were a manager, I would avoid micromanaging altogether. There have to be some boundaries set at work, so to give everyone some space to focus on their work.

Final Words

Being an SD manager can be very rewarding, but it may come with a lot of challenges. If you’re not familiar with SD in general, take the time to learn about the different roles in your department.

Also, be open-minded and willing to listen to the people you manage. It doesn’t hurt to ask for feedback from your team, as that can help improve processes and workflows.

By outlining the steps discussed earlier, it’ll be more effective to manage an SD team. If you can do that properly, you’ll end up doing very well as an SD manager.

Your Turn: Have you managed a software development team?

I want to get your thoughts on these topics. Do you work in the SD industry?

Are you a manager who has experience in SD? If not, what challenges did you face without that background?

Which of the tips do you like most about being an SD manager? Can it make a difference in how your team works on projects?

Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below. I look forward to reading your responses, and I’ll gladly respond promptly.

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Eric is a content writer and the site owner of He takes great pride in helping people manage their time and grow their businesses. Eric is a firm believer in time freedom, as he believes in taking ownership of time. 

“Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” In his leisure time, Eric loves to write and read whenever possible. He enjoys going for long walks outdoors while doing in-home workout videos every week. You can follow Eric on LinkedIn.

Self Photo 2019: Here's a picture at a building in downtown Chicago.

4 thoughts on “How To Manage A Software Development Team: 7 Best Tips”

  1. I think it must still be quite a challenge to manage a software development team if you have no experience with software development, even if you have management skills. You would need to know exactly what your team is capable of. 

    Also, you may expect too much of them if you are not sure on the time it takes to develop something new. 

    But you have provided some excellent tips in this article to keep managers on track with managing their teams. 

    • Hi Michel,

      Whether you have software development experience or not, it can be challenging either way. It helps to have management skills as well, so that way you can do very well in the position.

      I think we expect a lot from some people, so it helps to have that experience. But if you don’t, that’s a great thing to keep in mind. 

      These tips can be helpful for all types of software development managers. So I’m glad you found it helpful.

      Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts- they’re greatly appreciated.

  2. These are great tips on how to manage a software development team, but they are also applicable to managing any team. I fully agree with you that there is nothing worse than being micro-managed. It feels as if your manager, or boss, doesn’t let you get on with the task at hand and wants to control you. 

    Working as part of a team often means that other team members rely on each other’s input to complete a project. It would be interesting to know which program or app you use to communicate tasks to team members, and if they can indicate completion for others in the team to know the progress. 

    • Hi,

      Managing a software development team (or any team) comes with its challenges. Micromanaging is not fun at all, and something I don’t ever want to do.

      I believe it can be a distraction for those needing to get work done. It’s not easy, but it can be avoided.

      I like the idea of relying on other people’s input, as it can be a lot easier to work on a project. Without it, it’s harder to work on any type of project.

      As far as programs or apps, I don’t have an app or platform I use for communicating tasks. But at the moment, I’m looking at Trello- so far, it looks promising. I may write a review on it at some point.

      I know there are other ones such as Slack and But so far, I think Trello is a winner when it comes to communication and assigning tasks.

      Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts- I greatly appreciate them.


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