Reducing Rotation Rate in Software Development

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The rotation rate on agile software development teams is a controversial subject. The longer the project, the more likely there will be an “unplanned” member rotation.

It is well understood that losing team members in a short period of time for whatever reason would be terrible for the project. To “catch up” with new team members, other team members must put in extra time and effort through mentoring and knowledge transfer.

Why would anyone want to think about having a dedicated software team with rotating members? 

A certain amount of isolation develops over time when working on the same project with the same group of individuals. Developers adore learning about, experimenting with, and seeing new technologies. Operationally, these long-term teams become silos.

When this happens, production suffers as a result, and team members may lose interest in the project they are working on. It is a gradual drip that weakens the team and reduces its effectiveness. It can also make developers on the team consider career changes because their resumes will reflect stagnation rather than stability.

Key reasons why reducing rotation rate is critical

  • Reduced productivity: When developers are frequently moved from one project to another, it takes time for them to become familiar with the new project requirements and team dynamics.
  • Lower quality: When developers are not fully familiar with a project, they may introduce bugs or errors that could have been avoided if they had a deeper understanding of the project requirements.
  • Higher costs: Excessive rotation can result in higher costs for your organization due to the time and resources required to onboard new team members and get them up to speed.
  • Reduced team morale: Developers thrive on working with familiar colleagues and being able to build on existing relationships. Developers who are moved frequently may become disoriented and have worse team morale as a result.
  Software project milestone: what, why & how

Before member rotations occur, it’s important to have open discussions regarding team dynamics and long-term engagement experiences. Without any planning, just throwing the concept at them will result in disaster.

To reduce the rotation rate at Apiumhub, we are going through knowledge-sharing practices, helping the team feel proud about what they do, and how they do it. 

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How do we reduce the rotation rate?

  • Project ownership: ensuring that developers are informed of project status, milestones, and changes in advance to minimize surprises. Promote accountability and continuity.
  • Career development: offering opportunities for professional development and growth within a specific domain or project.
  • Invest in Learning: ensuring developers learn from each other by facilitating learning sessions, workshops, events, and pair programming days. 

This is a topic not widely discussed in the software development industry. If you have experience with team member rotation – we would be interested to hear your thoughts below.

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