Confidence is a key ingredient…

The successful delivery of a software project is a delicate balance of design, technology, quality, money, and timing… Generally, in a larger team there’s a person who’s role it is to manage and focus on just one or two of these. For example, architects and UX members lead design, developers drive technology & quality, project managers juggle money & timing.

However, there is also an underlying ingredient that the entire team has to own: confidence. Confidence that the technology will support the design and that the quality of the work aligns with that design and that we can all get it done within our stated timelines (and therefore presumably within budget).

Confidence is what buys you trust from those on your team’s periphery; and within a larger organisation these peripheral team member’s buy-in could even determine the fate of your project’s entire delivery.

The scary thing about confidence is how easily it can be lost, even after you work so hard to earn it. Again, it’s much the same as trust in that regard.

So, how can a team cultivate confidence and more importantly, how can they project confidence beyond their immediate team?

  • Show off! Demo often, or better yet, “deliver” often – even an internal prototype can be considered a win. It’s no mistake that frequent demos are a major part of most agile project delivery methodologies.
  • Celebrate & recognise. Confidence grows with success and acknowledging success will make it “real” and with that drive confidence. Plus, it just makes your team feel good. Win-win.
  • Bring people on your journey. Plonking something onto a stakeholder’s table and saying “here, look what we built” isn’t going to help. Engage with everyone and often. Let them know about your exciting work and better yet, let them see it!
  • Stay on message. Everyone in the team should know the “why” and “how” of the project. They know why the customer will benefit. They know how the company will benefit. They know what you are delivering. A common focus will keep you from being side-tracked and present a united front. (That’s not too say healthy debate and criticism is not wanted, but just pick your audiences.)
  • Preparation. Know what’s coming. Let experience guide you and listen to your gut. Preempt the upcoming hurdles and where appropriate have answers on hand. This has the added bonus of validating your solution; knowing where your difficulties will lie will give you confidence to ride out the rough patches in your delivery.

In essence, these all boil down to communication. Communicate up, out, and within so that there’s no surprises because surprises destabilise confidence and confidence is a key ingredient in seeing a project delivered through to production.

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