When the development team's stress affects software delivery quality
Discover the causes of stress in development teams, how it relates to software delivery quality and some possible solutions to address the situation.
April 5, 2022
Reading time 🕒 6 min
Most likely, you have already experienced a similar situation: your team faces a higher than usual stress level, and you notice a decrease in software delivery quality. This can be reflected by the introduction of bugs in the latest deliveries or a cycle time longer than your usual average (you can see the changes in this data in real-time with Axify). You might even see it in the interactions between team members. But, in the worst of cases, maybe the stress level and the decrease in quality will go completely unnoticed!
In this blog post, discover the causes of stress in development teams, how it relates to software delivery quality and some possible solutions to address the situation.
Stress in development teams
Several factors can affect team morale and cause stress. For example, the arrival or departure of a team member is a common occurrence, especially in today's global labour shortage environment and the difficulty of retaining outgoing employees. And it is pretty normal to perceive some changes in team morale when the team needs to reform. However, the length of this period can vary, and an excellent way to track it is to take the pulse of the team members.
It is also possible that this stress is caused by increased pressure. This can be pressure from stakeholders, an increase in demand, a feeling of "rush" at the end of the iteration, or pressure to support technical debt. Fixing and optimizing code is part of the reality of maintaining a platform. Still, it can become difficult to support this aspect when there is a backlog of emergencies and other priorities.
How do I know if my development team is stressed?
Verbally, in a group or individual meeting, or the form of a survey, inviting the team to share their impressions opens communication and creates a climate of trust. Sometimes, you should prioritize anonymous surveys to obtain an objective view of the team's feelings.
That being said, taking action after receiving this data is the key to success. A team that feels its words are heard and considered will have confidence in its ability to cope with this stressful time and get through it together.
A centralized platform like Axify that allows you to compile data and compare it over time will make your job easier. In addition, it will enable you to identify issues to address with the team quickly.
How does stress affect software delivery quality?
Data such as the type of items delivered, the time spent at various stages of the process and the level of team collaboration are excellent quality indicators. Correlating these key performance indicators with team morale allows you to identify the impact of stress on delivery. On the other hand, highlighting risky situations can help increase the sense of inclusion and decrease stress.
Do the reports for the latest releases show a higher bug ratio, fewer comments, or longer processing times for code reviews? What can we do to remedy the situation? Team discussion is the key to finding solutions. Maybe it's due to a lack of knowledge or too much workload? In this case, you could try to improve collaboration and knowledge sharing between team members.
The SPACE framework
The SPACE framework* highlights five angles to consider when understanding and measuring the productivity of a development team:
- Satisfaction and well-being, both of the developers and regarding the engineering systems;
- Performance, i.e. the result of a process such as code review velocity;
- Activity, i.e. the number of output actions such as deployment frequency or the number of completed code reviews;
- Collaboration and communication, which refers to how people interact and work together, including knowledge sharing;
- And efficiency, which refers to the execution of work to have minimal delays or interruptions.
While you can use several elements related to each of these angles to monitor various indicators, it is not mandatory to consider all of them when measuring your team's performance. However, selecting certain elements, such as team morale, process satisfaction, number of interactions in code reviews, or others mentioned above, is a great starting point for improving your processes.
Psst! As of March 28, 2023, Axify can provide you with information on all indicators in blue.
* SPACE Framework by Nicole Forsgren when she was VP of Research & Strategy at GitHub
**Use these measures with (even more) caution - they may reflect other things
Having a tool that draws your attention to these indicators can help you identify areas for improvement to work as a team to restore the work climate and ensure optimal delivery quality. In addition, a tool that tracks team morale can reveal unsuspected reactions to certain events.
For example, one of our clients told us that they noticed a pronounced increase in team stress following the presentation of a new project. While the management team thought they had motivated the team by sharing this exciting new project, the developers were quite stressed about the new workload. However, they could address the situation quickly when they saw these results on Axify, so the team didn't have to deal with overwhelming negative emotions.
Sometimes it can be challenging to get into the habit of communicating more to address blockers. We created the Daily Digest to help development teams break the ice. The Daily Digest highlights the items that must be discussed in the current sprint. This tool lets you see what's going on with current tasks rather than going through each Jira board in "I'm working on it" mode. This tool also makes it easier for Scrum Masters to be present for their team, especially in stressful times.
We'd love to hear more about how you've dealt with this situation. So share your story with us! And if you're currently experiencing this issue, we'd be happy to discuss it with you to see how Axify can help you increase software delivery quality and decrease stress for your team members.
To start getting an overview of your development team's performance and target your interventions, there is Axify.
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