How Soft Skills Play a Key Role in the Development of Great Apps
You’ve probably been told that no matter how great your technical skills are, they won’t get you to the heights of your career goals and ambitions on their own. In truth, you may very well be the best programmer in your company, but it won’t get you far in terms of career advancement.
Having solid soft skills such as teamwork, communication, empathy, and adaptability is what will make you stand out in the eyes of your managers and team leaders.
You may already possess some of these skills without even realizing it. In fact, a combination of hard and soft skills is probably what landed you your job, not just acing the technical test. And that same combination, not just your coding wizardry, is what’s going to land you your next promotion.
What’s more, soft skills are crucial not only to your personal success but also to the success of the software you’re developing. In other words, your ability to work with your team to get the job done is just as important as your ability to program complex tools and applications.
Using soft skills will help you not only curate better relationships with your team but also give you the boost you need to snag that next promotion. Here’s how your soft skills play a key role during the different stages of the software development lifecycle (SDLC).
During Planning and Analysis
In the initial stages of a project, where project managers and business analysts are working to finalize the requirements, they may need your help to ensure that the plan is technically feasible.
So as a member of the team that will do the actual development of the application, you must take time out of your core tasks to provide critical input in an apprehensible manner.
Be empathetic in your communication. Business analysts and high-level managers may not understand all your technical jargon, and “dumbing down” concepts may eventually get frustrating for you. You may feel your patience being tested.
This is where you need to be mindful of the fact that these members of your team have valuable skills that are very different from your own, and only together can you build software that’s worth using.
Once the requirements are finalized, and the analysis is complete, it’s the user-interface designers’ turn to transform raw wireframes into refined mockups that reflect the look and feel of the final app.
Collaborating with UI and UX designers throughout the design phase enables each member of the team to contribute and ensure that all the elements are going to work. A designer might come up with a clean design that appears to be easy to develop, but when it comes to the actual coding, it could turn out to be a really tall order.
Working together prevents the need to backtrack after the client has already signed off on the requirements. So communicate with your designers, and contribute to the design process. Let them know which parts of the design you love and which may need some tweaking for optimal coding output.
When designers and developers work together as one, the final product that’s shipped to the client can blow their expectations out of the water.
When it’s time to do the actual coding, hard skills take over, but not completely. As you dive deeper into the code, you’ll realize that even after all the analysis and design, some things may not be doable.
Plus, it could happen that the client’s requirements change abruptly or the functional specifications/requirements document goes through yet another revision.
All these situations can (and usually do) arise during software development, and again it’s your soft skills that enter the picture.
For instance, if you find previously undetected flaws in the design, it’s all about how you communicate them to the designers to get them fixed in time. Or, God forbid, if you finish developing a major portion of the application, and a significant functional requirement changes, it’s important to keep calm and work as a team to still hit the deadline.
Essentially, the programming phase of the SDLC won’t be as straightforward as you want, and your ability to adapt to changes without losing your cool plays a key role in the success of the project.
After the development phase, your code will be thoroughly tested by a dedicated testing team.
Thankfully, the quality assurance folks consisting of software testers are a breed that’s pretty close to developers. They’re versed in at least the basics of programming, which means it is relatively easy for you to productively interact with them and sort things out without losing your mind.
However, as testers, it’s their job to make your life difficult—you’ll make it, they’ll break it. And make no mistake, they will find loopholes in your code. Instead of getting annoyed at their “nitpicking,” you have to appreciate their attention to detail and take their feedback with a positive attitude.
For example, if you’re developing an app that’s meant to help the people in need, such as a website donation plugin, then it’s all the more critical for testers to find bugs in your code. So, be patient, open to criticism, and work with them to get the software absolutely spot on.
Whether it’s an easy CMS migration-based project or a groundbreaking application with a massive scope, deploying the final piece of software to clients can reveal the most obvious and unforeseen flaws in your code all at once.
You might have to take a lot of heat during the deployment phase, and yet again, your ability to take criticism constructively is key. Furthermore, you’ll also play a pivotal role in making the software available for client use and helping them get their feet wet with what you’ve created.
Thus, being adept at communicating clearly and confidently is essential. Some examples of what you may have to explain to your CEO and/or the end-user are:
- How to make the most of a particular feature
- Why something went wrong during usage
- How you decided to incorporate or not incorporate something in your code
Moreover, good listening skills and multitasking abilities will come in handy once the project’s progress reaches a certain level wherein you’ll have to juggle a myriad of responsibilities at once, such as resolving bugs, developing new modules, and co-ordinating with all the stakeholders. Put simply, soft skills will be indispensable across all the stages of development.
Over to You
Agile, Waterfall, or Spiral—it doesn’t matter which SDLC model your team follows to create amazing apps. Apart from each team member nailing their job, what really matters is how the team coordinates with each other and how you—as one of the most technical members of the team—handle situations that require more than just gluing yourself to the screen with your headphones on.
While it’s important to continually hone your hard skills, make sure you know how to work well with your colleagues, as a team, if you truly want your code to shine.