Balancing Front End and Back End Requirements
As the development industry has gotten larger and large, many developers have carved out extremely narrow niches for themselves. This has led to some positions becoming extremely specialized.
Jan 2020 - 3 minutes read
While full-stack developers do exist, the volume of work they would have to shoulder to develop an entire project on their own has made this position almost untenable in our modern work environment.
Many people who specialize in front-end design or back-end development have developed detailed and specialized expertise that makes them an asset to any project. However, it can cause problems when it comes to collaborating with others. With such specialized knowledge, it can be difficult for front and back-end developers to communicate clearly with each other.
It’s always a balancing act between designers and sales staff, who want to see progress on the client-facing end, and developers and sysadmin who require more time and resources to work on the back-end technical requirements. Striking a middle ground is possible but working with a diverse group of specialized individuals requires excellent communication, the willingness to collaborate, and a shared commitment and understanding of the project’s priorities.
Today, we’re going to talk about how balancing the front and back-end requirements of your project will help set your team up for success. There are many ways to use the individual skills of each team member to their full potential- it simply requires strong leadership and lots of advance planned.
Outline Priorities Clearly from the Beginning
The fastest way a project can get derailed is if you don’t set clear priorities from the beginning. From the very first interaction with the client, managers should be working to compile a list of priorities that execute the client’s vision. The clearer the priorities are from the beginning, the easier it will be to convey them to the team, assign tasks, and track progress.
If the priorities are unclear from either the client or management end, it’s only natural that staff will assume that they’ve been left to work it out on their own. Individuals who are working independently with no clear sense of how they’re contributing to the overall project may inadvertently spin off their work in the complete wrong direction. Redoing these tasks and getting the project back on track will take even more time and energy. This can quickly lead to frustration, burnout, and the risk of the project moving far beyond the client’s scope.
Hire Well-Rounded Managers Who Understand Both Sides
It’s a lot easier to create an overall list of priorities when you can hire managers who understand both sides of development. They don’t need to be experts in the details themselves, but they should know enough to understand the terminology, as well as the resources and time required to accomplish basic tasks. From there, they can plan effectively.
Hiring managers that are well-versed in both front-end design and development and back-end requirements can also help facilitate communication between their teams. Any conflicts can be resolved quickly and with minimal fuss, because there’s a mediator at the ready who understands each different team’s wants and needs.
Encourage Staff to Explore the Other
Side If your management team isn’t currently well-versed in certain aspects of development, encourage them to spend some time learning. Any good developer who wants to keep their knowledge up to date should be continually challenging themselves at work and at home. However, many developers simply drill down deeper into areas they’re already comfortable with- deepening, rather than broadening their knowledge.
If you want to encourage your staff and especially your management team to focus their efforts on learning new topics, you may need to provide some incentive. After all, learning something entirely new can feel very daunting. To incentivize staff to explore new areas of study, start a mentorship program, or give them access to money for courses or study materials through a professional development fund.
Give Staff Time to Share Their Expertise
While formal mentorship is a great resource for your staff, you can always encourage more mentorship on an everyday basis just by giving staff more time to share their expertise. Too often, meetings are shortened so that staff have just enough time to discuss the bare minimum before returning to their individual tasks. Allotting time at the end of every meeting for questions, and making sure staff know that there are no questions too basic will help encourage the spread of knowledge.
Too often, junior staff don’t ask questions in meetings because they don’t want to be seen as ignorant or less knowledgeable than their peers. Senior staff and managers can set a good example by asking basic questions, and establishing an office-wide attitude that is non-judgmental and encouraging of knowledge sharing.
Good Balance Requires Great Staff
There are many resources that can direct you towards the best ways to split up resources (time, money, etc.) when balancing the back and front-end requirements of development projects. It’s never the same project to project, and requires a deft hand to ensure both client-facing teams and back-end technical teams are satisfied.
Despite these challenges, balancing front and back-end requirements is something that can easily be accomplished by a team that knows how to communicate well and work together effectively. Led by active, engaged managers, staff from individual teams can work towards their own goals, secure in the knowledge that they’re on the right path- together.