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Taking over an IT project - best practices. Part three: building a new project team

Step three of an IT project takeover is building the new team. In a way, it’s the most complex stage of all as it requires collaboration between not only the technical and other project-related roles but also the HR team. Having experienced IT recruiters on board is essential to form a well-balanced team that will assume responsibility for an ongoing project and become capable of delivering product increments in the future.

This article is part three of a series about effective IT project takeovers. The first article covered the technological audit of an existing project and the second described best practices for assigning a new project manager in such cases.

Building a development team for an ongoing project

The process starts with defining project-specific requirements by the client and tech experts. Based on them, a recruitment team specifies preferred candidate profiles and a team structure.

As an HR team at a software house, we’re experienced in managing highly dynamic and complex recruitment processes for external partners. In order to streamline our operations in such cases we make sure to start with gathering answers to the following questions:

  • What’s the business case in the assigned project?
  • What’s the current phase of the project?
  • What roles should be filled?
  • What are the key technologies and tools used in the project?
  • What are the actual needs of the client?
  • What’s the organization’s culture?
  • What are the expectations for the new team?
  • What’s the client’s previous experience with working with other software houses and external providers?

Finding the best tech leader for this particular project

The future success of a newly established team heavily depends on its leader. Therefore finding the right person for this position - someone with both technical and business experience - is essential.

The duties of a software development team lead include maintaining high standards of software quality, smooth communication with the client, effective task delegation, and active participation in recruitment processes, among others. Hence, the most important requirements for the post of tech leader are:

  • Strong technical skills and commercial experience
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Ability to think outside the box
  • Passion for knowledge sharing and willingness to mentor other team members
  • High level of accountability

Building a successful development team

A wise leader is the foundation of a strong team, but it’s just the beginning. The next stage involves the recruitment of the remaining members for the new team. This process begins with defining key roles that should be recruited immediately. The two most important considerations for the sourcing stage are:

1. Specifying the tech stack
2. Setting expectations regarding the required experience.

Finding the right culture fit, project fit, and an optimal mix of personalities – building the whole team from scratch is a big yet fascinating challenge. Different roles, functional areas, and responsibilities of candidates require high flexibility that should be inscribed in the DNA of every good recruiter at iRonin.IT and any other respected software house. An important advantage from a candidate’s perspective is that they, together with all the team members, join the project at the same time, so everyone is equal, and the team dynamics are yet to be established.

Insights from our last project: building a new team for an ongoing project

The most recent project in which our HR team was tasked to create a new tech team from scratch involved recruitment for four different types of roles:

  • Back-end Developer
  • Mobile Developer
  • QA Engineer
  • Project Manager

In this project, we focused on finding candidates that had previous experience in developing products that had been taken over from other, no longer existing teams. For some interviewees, it was a compelling challenge. They perceived taking over an existing and already complex project as an unusual and demanding task. While for others, working with a lot of documentation, sometimes incomplete, seemed tedious and unambitious.

Honesty plays a very important role in the recruitment process. Incomplete or faulty information about tasks, project management, or the state of the existing codebase can have a negative impact on the motivation of a new team member. A complete package of information, even the bad one, allows the candidate to make a conscious decision about potential cooperation, and quite often find people seeking a particular kind of challenge.

Building a new development team for an existing application

Any transition in life can be scary, and replacing the whole development team is definitely a big one. But having a bunch of IT recruiters experienced in building new technical teams for existing products on your side makes a difference.

If you need a hand navigating your IT project takeover, drop us a line!

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