Team & Process Assessment

Detailed assessment of the product development team and the processes used to develop software.

What is a Team & Process Assessment?

How a company develops applications is a key indicator of the quality of that application, how efficiently development resources are utilized, and how well the product matches the market need. If there is a solid process in place, it is a good indicator that it is a well-run organization producing high-quality features in a timely manner that match what the business needs. If, however, the product development process is weak, there is good reason to assume that these other areas are also lacking. As such, a detailed review of the Product Development Process is essential to any technical diligence project.

The most prevalent development methodology in use today is the Agile methodology. There are a multitude of different “flavors” of Agile, and there is no single approach that is perfectly suited for all situations and all teams. When we look at how a company produces software, it is not about whether they are following the letter of the law of any specific methodology, but more importantly, whether a methodology is defined, agreed upon, and followed by everyone on the team. In early-stage companies with small teams and senior resources from the industry, the process can be very light because the developers are mature and self-disciplined enough to follow best practices. And, if they understand the industry, they don’t need everything spelled out for them. This is the most efficient form of development team and process. However, at the other end of the spectrum, if there is a large team with many junior or offshore resources, a heavier process is needed to ensure the right things are being developed correctly.

This is where the experience and discernment of the resources doing the assessment come into play. Two teams with the same process could score very differently from the perspective of risk, given these other factors. Having a tech diligence partner who understands the nuances of how different teams need different processes is critical. A one-size-fits-all approach to the product development process can raise unnecessary concerns that cloud the focus on the things that truly matter.

Product Development Team Assessment

The team responsible for developing the product is the biggest factor affecting how well a company consistently delivers great products. There is little mystery here – great teams typically produce great products. As such, it is important to truly understand the capabilities of the product development team – at least the top resources involved. To do that requires direct conversations with the key team members, just as you would have in an interview process. The key, however, is to do this in a way that doesn’t feel like an interview. This is where much of the “art” of tech diligence comes into play instead of the straight “science” of objectively looking at processes and code and identifying weak spots. This entails gaining some level of trust, which is difficult to do in the short time frame of a typical assessment. It is important to understand that there is a natural resistance to having an outside team come in to render judgment on what your team has built – they are understandably skeptical and resistant to cooperating, which is exactly what you need them to do to produce the most accurate assessment. So, building rapport starting with the very first meeting is essential. Being relatable and finding positive things to call out help bring down the defensiveness so that when you do get around to meeting with the key team members later in the process, they are more open and able to give you better insights into the actual challenges the team is facing.

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