Modification date: July 13, 2020

Communication Skills: A Core Part of Software Engineering

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Syberry

Communication Skills: A Core Part of Software Engineering

When you imagine a typical software engineer, what do you imagine? A grim-looking, withdrawn person in glasses, who enjoys coding quietly, alone, and hates having to interact with other people? This stereotype should be long gone soon, as the software development world is changing, and soft skills like communication are on the rise.

All modern software development frameworks emphasize the importance of communication. One of the core values of the Agile manifesto is that “individuals and interactions are more important than processes and tools.” Does that sound counterintuitive? Let’s analyze what is behind this principle.

Imagine the following case. A software development team utilizes Scrum methodology. In the middle of the sprint, the product owner tells the project manager that another feature has to be added to this sprint. He recently learned that a competing company was going to deliver a similar functionality soon, and the team needs to implement it before the rivals to avoid being left in the dust.

The process tells us that no items can be added to the sprint after it has already started. However, the project manager understands the business need for such a change. She gives a rundown of the situation to the team, and they are motivated by the feeling of competition. The sprint is restructured, the feature is added and implemented, and even though another user story is postponed until the next sprint, the business goal is met. Everyone wins.

For another example, let’s have a look at software development lifecycle. It starts with preparing requirements. What if the product owner fails to convey his ideas clearly? The result may be a product that is vastly different from what he had in mind. After requirements are ready, the developer needs to study those carefully to design each feature. What if she sees any inconsistencies? If the developer fails to communicate these inconsistencies effectively to other members of the team, it can lead to major issues down the road. What if during testing, a quality assurance engineer describes bug improperly? A lot of precious time might be wasted.

As you can see, the software development flow requires regular and proactive communication in order to work smoothly.

Going back to scrum, each event that is enshrined in the methodology promotes effective and ongoing communication within the team. First of all is the “daily scrum,” where team members share updates: what they are currently working on and what they are planning to do in the next twenty-four hours. During this meeting, teammates discuss potential obstacles and their solutions. If it’s done well, this meeting ensures everyone on the team knows exactly where each other stands and can collaborate into resolve impediments.

Another important type of meeting is the retrospective, which is dedicated to analyzing the previous iteration’s upsides and downsides and creating a list of action items for future iterations. Through this process, the team has an opportunity to express their feedback and propose ideas for improvement. The scrum master’s main goal here is to have all participants actively involved, creating an environment in which everyone’s opinion matters. The scrum master has a similar goal in planning events, facilitating meaningful discussions to resolve disagreements and ensure the team is united in its estimation and understanding of the upcoming work.

These are just a few examples demonstrating that contemporary frameworks are based on the values of communication, collaboration, and transparency, which empower everyone on the team and make sure that everyone is heard.

All leading software development companies are trying to create an environment where communication is valued and viewed as a key team asset, where employees know that speaking their minds is safe and, moreover, appreciated. And research has shown these efforts paying off, in the software development industry and beyond: companies with effective communication strategies have 47 percent higher returns to shareholders, as well as lower employee turnover.

But how do you build such an atmosphere of trust and openness? The strategy may differ from company to company, but here’s how we do it at Syberry.

  • We have an open-door policy. Any employee can turn to any other member of the company, including top management, to discuss the issues they deem important at any time. No need to wait for the next scheduled meeting.
  • We keep in mind that it is better to overcommunicate than undercommunicate. Stanford university held an experiment that found that, even though 50 percent of communicators believed they got their message across, 2.5 percent of them were actually successful. Thus, when describing an idea or giving feedback, we encourage team members to make their narratives very detailed and take extra steps to ensure their audience understands the concept exactly as the team member intends.
  • We provide all feedback in writing as well as verbally, because we know that if we rely solely on verbal communication, we run the risk of details being lost.
  • We have clearly defined areas of responsibility: every team member knows what is expected from them and to whom they can turn in any given situation. This prevents us from losing precious time clarifying miscommunications.
  • We use the most progressive and convenient tools for day-to-day communication, such as Slack and Microsoft Teams. Using these messengers gives many benefits: team members can meet online to save time, all essential information and updates are stored in the communication channel history, and other relevant documents — like planning documents, action items, and others — can be stored in the platforms for easy access.
  • We organize regular teambuilding events. When company employees communicate in an informal atmosphere and get to know each other from a personal perspective, it boosts team spirit and contributes to higher trust.
  • We provide our employees, especially those in management, with the opportunity to take communication courses on various educational platforms such as Coursera.

We will continue to expand this list to improve our team communication, as we realize that this skill is the heart of any flourishing business. Fortunately, the agile methodologies we apply are assisting us in accomplishing the mission.

Publication date: July 13, 2020

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What our customers say about us

Syberry has provided satisfactory services thus far, and they are very responsive to any issues that arise. The team also possesses strong communication skills. They delivered a functional piece of software at a reasonable price, and they've managed the project very well.

Richard Harkness

CEO, ADEPT Driver

Elk Grove, CA

How we help ADEPT Driver Company

We developed a web-based driving simulator for teens and another for adults. The products run on Chromebooks, and the team added features that enable them to measure a driver's ability to avoid a crash.

Technologies used

I don't think you could find a better company to manage and build your project. I get so many compliments on my application, and it has a lot of unique and complex development.

Todd Surber

CEO, PIXRIT

Charleston, South Carolina

How we help PIXRIT Company

A photographer approached us to build a web-based software platform that combines the fastest social media manager with state-of-the-art galleries and provides the ultimate tool for photographers to upload, store, back up, and share their photos and manage their SMM activities.

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The user-friendly software hasn’t encountered any issues or bugs in more than three years. It’s high quality has helped grow the clientele. Straightforward and consistent in communication, Syberry met every deadline and ensured a hassle-free development process.

Vince Hughes

Owner, Steel Estimating Solutions

Knoxville, TN

How we help Steel Estimating Solutions Company

Our client was inspired to create a product that helps steel erection companies perform faster, more efficient estimations and bids. We developed original proprietary software from the initial concept.

Technologies used

The new platform received positive feedback and performs better than its predecessor. Syberry communicated the project’s progress to their partners well by breaking down their steps and utilizing a management system. Most importantly, they delivered world-class service for a cost-efficient price.

Bill Fahy

Owner, FDI Creative Services

Houston, TX

How we help FDI Creative Services Company

Following strict regulations and requirements, we used AWS to develop a custom e-commerce web app that includes shipping integration. Since the site’s launch, the team has continued to make updates.

Technologies used

The application was delivered on time and within budget. Syberry explained their process thoroughly and accommodated to scope changes effortlessly. Their stellar project management, highly responsive communication, and proactive attitude set them apart.

Ricardo Casas

CEO, Fahrenheit Marketing

Austin, TX

How we help Fahrenheit Marketing Company

We developed a large, complex .NET application with various third-party integrations. The team built the software from scratch based on existing wireframes.

Technologies used

The end solution exceeded the client’s expectations. Syberry delivered high-quality products on time and at outstanding value. They provided frequent updates and repeatedly sought feedback at each stage. Customers can expect a highly experienced team that easily translates concepts into solutions.

Rudy Milkovic

Executive Director, Velicom

Austin, TX

How we help Velicom Company

Our team built video streaming software as a web and desktop app for a third-party client. We completed end-to-end development—from scoping to feedback cycles to QA—using PHP and Wowza Streaming Engine.

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Syberry has successfully improved the frontend performance of the platform and continues to make thoughtful suggestions for enhancements. They have proven to be communicative and reliable, mitigating the common concerns of outsourced teams. Syberry remains mindful of business goals and client needs.

Cory Kowal

VP of Products, THG Energy Solutions

Tulsa, OK

How we help THG Energy Solutions Company

Taking over for another vendor, we served as the ongoing software engineering partner for an energy company’s cloud-based platform. The company provided scoping, development, testing, and deployment services.

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The added team members sufficiently fulfilled the needs of the project. The product was successfully launched and has received positive feedback. Syberry continues to be a supportive partner in development. They provide an impressive team and their expertise fosters a smooth collaboration.

Chris Cox

CTO, MyMelo

Louisville, Kentucky

How we help MyMelo Company

We provided staff augmentation resources for a development project. The team contributed engineers to follow an established roadmap to perform updates and add features.

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Syberry delivered a solid website that has become a database of close to 40 organizations. The team worked quickly and efficiently to get the website up and running, and they continue to invest their time into the project. Additionally, they have been a communicative partner.

David Snyder

Product Director, Covid Resource Network

West Orange, New Jersey

How we help Covid Resource Network Company

The company developed a website that serves as a database where organizations can find and donate to other organizations. Currently, the team is working on enhancing the website and fixing bugs.

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When the system is up and running, it will save time for the internal team. Syberry was a patient partner, and they performed well throughout the collaboration.

Joyce Cubio

VP of Operations, Ernie's Mobile Home Transport

Yuba, California

How we help Ernie's Mobile Home Transport Company

The team built an information hub for a mobile home transport and permit service. After discussing the existing system and processes, we delivered a new structure for forms and data.

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All deliverables have exceeded expectations and function properly once launched. The Syberry team is skilled in juggling multiple projects, and provide strong expertise in software development. Their dedication to the project has fostered continual success in the engagement.

John Fox

Executive VP, Fox Business Automation Solutions

Lakeland, Florida

How we help Fox Business Automation Solutions Company

Brought on as a third party, we supplied ongoing development services. The team work on multiple projects and deliver according to predetermined design specifications.

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