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Key steps for successful Software Project Management Part 2

Key steps for successful Software Project Management Part 2

Continuing on from our “Key steps for Successful Software Project Management | Part 1 |”, in which we explained the reasoning behind the capstone project: why the students will use the Agile Methodology and the structures of the teams. In this Part 2, we will talk about the importance of team building and the exercise undertaken by the Software Development students.

The importance of Team Building

You don’t choose your family and you don’t choose your co-workers; sometimes it can be a blessing and some other times you might struggle to get along. In a business environment, teams are often set up with complementary skill sets and little care is given to personalities. The Techtorium Employment Pathways Team works closely with the IT industry and employment partners. Their feedback on the ideal employee profile they are after is unanimous.

A great professional :

  • has excellent communication skills
  • works well in a team
  • Works well under pressure.

The technical skills can be learned along the way but personal skills are trickier to gain.

1) Concept: TALLEST TOWER

To provide an activity which promotes the use of teamwork skills is time-limited and provides an opportunity for a performance review.

Activity:

Each team were given a set of balloons and were set with the task of creating a self-standing tower out of the balloons in limited amount of time. The team that had the tallest standing tower after the given time would be declared the winner.

The activity has the following elements:

  • A problem or challenge |  competition to build the tallest tower
  • Resource limits-management pressure | balloons and sellotape
  • Rules and guidelines | a brief, the tower has to be free-standing on floor
  • Opportunity for creativity/design options
  • Requires a planning agreement | communication
  • Leadership and delegation | designers, puffers, constructors
  • Time limit-time pressure
  • Opportunity for trial and error-re-design/copying
  • Performance review-tallest tower winner

Key Learnings:

  • Communication skills important
  • Identifying and using team members strengths and value important
  • Planning and design review needs to be on-going
  • All team roles need to be fulfilled

2) Concept: Lava River crossing

The aim of this Team Building exercise is to provide an activity which promotes the use of teamwork skills, is physical and active in nature, is time-limited, provides an opportunity to step outside your comfort zone(ie. Personal space is compromised) and provides an opportunity for self and team review.

Activity:

Students were given the task of only being able to stand altogether on the 2 pieces of cardboard provided with the objective of making it to the other side of the room without stepping on Lava River. The students all had to tightly fit on the cardboard provided, and transfer to the 2nd piece that they had until they reached the end.

The activity has the following elements:

  • A problem or challenge-to get across the Lava river
  • Time pressure-first across the line wins
  • Use of limited resources | 2 squares of cardboard
  • Rules and guidelines
    • All participants must cross the line
    • No body parts or items may touch the river
    • Students to re-start if rules are broken
    • The whole team has to stick together at all times
  • Requires leadership and communication skills
  • Task perseverance-all groups encouraged to successfully finish the challenge
  • Performance review-self review
    • Teamwork review

Key Learnings.  

  • Communication skills important
  • Identifying and using team members strengths and supporting weaknesses important.

3) DISC Assessment of personality traits and the Coat of Arms activity

DISC Assessment

The ultimate goal of the DISC workshop is for every student to;

  1. Value yourself
  2. Value others
  3. Communicate better

The aim of the DISC behavioural assessment is to provide information about behavioural tendencies. It is a way of describing how you do what you do. It describes behaviours first coming from observations by Hippocrates, Galen, Marston and refined by Walter Clarke into an easily administered test to identify our primary DISC behaviour types. Using behaviours enables you to develop strategies for how to interact with others. There are 4 styles to learn about, Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientious. Each student learns that they are a unique mixture of the four scales.

If a student’s traits are higher on one scale than the other 3 they will most likely demonstrate behaviours that include:

  • Dominance: More hand gestures, is to the point, is known for being driven, focused, determined and confident.
  • Influence: Constant body movement, optimistic, discusses people and feelings, lots of eye contact, known for being outgoing, engaging and enthusiastic
  • Steadiness: Attentive listening, discusses the agreement, uses you and we more than I, asks how, known for being patient, service-oriented, reliable
  • Conscientious: Use of narrow gesturing, pauses thoughtfully before speaking, ask for agreement, asks why, known for being detailed, deliberate and careful

By gaining insight and understanding of the traits of themselves and others, each individual should be able to improve communication, reduce anxiety, increase trust and build connections. The workshop continued to integrate into discussions the value of focusing on behaviours, not intentions or emotions. It was critical to make clear that the students do not view DISC as a box or a way of defining their identity.DISC is all about behavioural tendencies.

When someone understands their own style and then identifies the value of someone’s style. It enables them to stop measuring others by their own way of doing things. They can create opportunities for other styles based on others individual styles and strengths.

The students completed all these different tasks to gain a better understanding of who they would be working with. Although they may be familiar with 1 or 2 members of their team, for most it will be their first time talking and getting to know each other. Different team building exercises were aimed to break the ice between students who were not familiar with each other, for team leaders to assess their team members and teams to find their own dynamic.

Concept- Coat of Arms

To reinforce knowledge of participants own style and help people to work together. To promote the strengths and value of each behaviour type.  Each DISC type group created a coat of arms on a poster board to represent to the audience sharing how the symbolism and colours represent some dynamic of their DISC type. Each group then shared their poster board with the rest of the students to share the symbolism and colours they have created.

The activity has the following elements:

  • A group of like-minded students identifying their strengths/behavioural traits
  • A challenge – to produce a poster

Key Learnings:

  • Students identify their own behavioural traits and value themselves
  • Identify others behavioural traits and value others
  • Communicate better amongst each other.

WANT TO STUDY SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT?

Techtorium offers Software Development Courses:

Our Entry course:
Level 5 New Zealand Diploma in Information Systems 

which pathways to the second year of
Level 6 New Zealand Diploma in Software Development 

 

Stay tuned for part 3!