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Destressing the Software Delivery Cycle

Customers
Users
Team Reaction
Prioritization
Health / Stress / Burn-Out

4 April, 2022

Rui Miguel de Matos Ferreira
Rui Miguel de Matos Ferreira

Director of Engineering at Spider AF

Rui Ferreira, Change Agent at Independent, shares his experience destressing a team by delivering high-quality software on a consistent basis.

Working in a High-Stress Environment

Previously, I jumped into a project where I witnessed things that were not going well. For example, the customer was unhappy, and the software was being rushed to release. There was serious pressure on the teams to continue to deliver, adding bugs and missteps in the software. This became a cycle that hurt both the customer and the company.

When I joined the team, individuals were asking to move into other teams and projects. When it was at its worst, team members thought about leaving the company due to the lack of organization. At the same time, the customer debated whether to continue their relationship with our company.

Taking Stress Away From the Team

Documenting and Prioritizing:

As a project manager, my role was to help organize the team and deliver high-quality software to the user. One of the first things I did was to destress the team. To do this, we set a meeting where we discussed what the customer expected and what we were doing. On the list, there were both things that were super concrete as well as items that weren’t.

For example, the team was unsure what the customer needed in specific areas. We documented what the team had done in these instances and planned ahead for our next release.

Setting a Steady Release Date:

The team knew how to package software and deliver it to the customer. Using this knowledge, we decided to start delivering features every week. We would plan ahead for the week, determining what we wanted to release and how it would improve the user experience. After two or three weeks, the team got into the routine of releasing features weekly.

Although there were still bugs in the software, having a stable release improved the customer experience. As the team continued to get acquainted with the release date, the number of bugs decreased.

Over a little more than a month, the team had regained the trust of the customer due to the high-quality software delivered in a predictable manner.

Learnings From the Cycle

  • It’s difficult to break the stressful cycle when you are in the middle of chaos. Sometimes it’s needed to leverage an external factor (in my case, new team members) to bring fresh ideas to the team.
  • This problem was not about using a predetermined strategy or recipe. It was about understanding real-world team dynamics to create a customized solution.

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