The Distribution of Knowledge
Software organisations cannot be successful without a comprehensive understanding of their products and services. Unfortunately, it is rare for information to be shared evenly between team members. Often, the team will have different levels of expertise in different areas, which can cause complications when a new member joins the team at a different stage of the project. This can lead to delays in the completion of the project.
In order to avoid potential issues, companies should establish a robust system for the exchange of information between software development team members. Outsourcing elements of projects to a third party can be a great way to get the job done more quickly and efficiently. Not only does this help to get the project finished, but it can also allow for the transfer of new techniques and technologies from the external organisation to your development team. To ensure that your team can benefit from this knowledge sharing, it is essential to create an effective framework for the exchange of information between the two parties.
Below are some strategies businesses may utilise to promote successful knowledge transfer within the development team:
Pair programming is a method of software development where two programmers work together at a single workstation, working towards the same development goal. The programmer at the keyboard, known as the ‘driver‘, is responsible for the actual coding, while the other programmer, known as the ‘navigator‘, reviews the process. The ‘driver’ should provide a continuous commentary for their partner on their progress. For the best results, the two programmers should take turns in their respective roles on a regular basis.
Pair programming is an effective way of transferring knowledge, as the navigator is often paired with a driver who is experienced in areas the navigator is not familiar with. Additionally, the navigator is able to gain a better understanding of hidden information that cannot be communicated through documentation, thanks to the driver’s running commentary which provides a clearer description of the complexities of the code.
Code reviews in groups
Once a programmer has completed their task, the rest of the development team should conduct a thorough review of the code. This review includes an assessment of any potential logic flaws, the satisfaction of all criteria and the adherence to established style rules. Code reviews can be an invaluable tool for less experienced members of the team, as it allows them to gain a deeper understanding of the codebase, uncover valuable information and develop their skillset by discovering new methods and technologies. Your team may use this tool to evaluate the quality of the code.
Hackathons are a type of competition which encourages teams of computer programmers to come together and work on a project within a set time frame. At the end of this time period, each group will showcase the product they have created to the other participants. Through this type of event, members of the team can share their skills and knowledge with each other, enabling them to work together efficiently to complete their task in the allotted time. Placing both your own developers and those from an external company in the same environment can be a great way to foster collaboration and facilitate the exchange of ideas.
Bagged Lunches (BBL)
Rather than adhering to a formal structure, these gatherings are designed to serve as informal networking opportunities, where team members bring their own food and engage in conversation over lunch, exchanging ideas and information. At brown bag lunches, programmers have the chance to learn about the latest advancements in their field and share ideas on how to optimise their work.
The successful transmission of knowledge between members of software development teams requires a tailored approach. Employers should identify the best approach that works for their team and workload, as every team’s situation is unique. Introducing long-term learning tools such as team code reviews and Brown Bag Lunches can help ensure consistent knowledge transfer, while shorter-term solutions like hackathons and partnered programming can quickly bring teams up to speed.