Ben Cull - Payments Engineer and Microsoft Development Professional

Tips for Hiring a Development Team and CTO

In response to a question raised on Startups for the Rest of Us - Episode 242, “Can I hire a CTO type role to help me hire a development team?”, I recorded a brief clip with some tips for their listeners. Hopefully these might help you too.

Have a listen

1. Find a Senior Developer

The ideal candidate for a makeshift CTO is a senior developer. Their job is to ensure the client is confident with their development team, so they need to be able to review and grade the quality of their code.

The other half of their job will be maintaining development process and practices. You want someone that is either currently or has recently been working on the front line, developing code. This will ensure you get practical advice and not just a load of theory.

2. Process is King

You want your CTO to be heavily into process. It will be their job to ensure the environment is right to let your developers code well, not to tell them how to do their jobs. A CTO that has good knowledge of process is ideal.

We use the Scrum Methodology at SSW. If you haven’t read up on it you should definitely take a look.

My three biggest suggestions are:

  • Ship small
  • Ship often
  • Ship to Production!

3. Use Video

As a product owner you should be recording a video for each of your requirements. This gives so much more context about what you would like to achieve.

On the flip side, you should be getting your developers to record videos once features are complete. This lets you review and provide feedback much more quickly.

4. Have Retrospective Meetings

Retrospective meetings happen every release cycle (this should ideally be every 2 weeks), where everyone answers three questions:

  • What went well?
  • What didn’t go so well?
  • What can we improve?

All members of the team including the product owner should provide good honest feedback here. Keep in mind it’s all about the process and not the product here. Great examples are:

What went well?

  • “Moving our daily meetings from 9am to 10am was great, everyone was perkier”
  • “Fixing bugs directly after them being raised has worked well”

What didn’t go so well?

  • “Support tickets were being answered too slowly”

What can we improve?

  • “Everyone to arrive to daily meeting on time”
  • “Get another developer to look at complex code before comitting”

Hit me up on twitter if you have any questions: @BenWhoLikesBeer

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