Whether at startups or corporations, development projects of any scale tend to be susceptible to the same problems. Even the most well-intentioned teams can fall prey to lack of communication, duplicated work, wasted time, and other issues that can quickly derail a timeline and balloon costs. These problems are enough trouble on their own, but they can also affect products and results, and cause even more issues down the line.

Even so, teams can avoid many pitfalls by deploying the right tools and building an ecosystem that supports their work. Solutions that improve communication, automate the tasks that can cause problems or delays, and which motivate teams to meet objectives are vital to improving your chances of success. These five tools boost your team's productivity and ensure that you can expedite your development, reduce your cost, and keep your developers engaged.

1. Auditing Your Open Source

In order to keep up with the pace needed today, developers don't write all code from scratch, instead, they include open source components in their code--which can rapidly increase a product's 'speed to market'. The vast library of open source code available is a major benefit, but it also presents new challenges. Using such components brings with it the risks of vulnerabilities, ranging from lapsed licenses to bugs resulting from the often unknown origins of the code. Auditing and constantly reviewing each component being used takes time, effort and a significant amount of company resources.

WhiteSource can help cut down on the time and money spent while allowing companies to use open source more freely. Integrating into existing development processes and systems, it automates audits, and constantly tracks all open source components in your code for security, licensing or policy issues, sending alerts when a problem is detected. Their chrome extension checks open source components in real-time for vulnerabilities which is a big time saver as it helps devs avoid problematic components and find the ones which are most compatible with their company's policies and licensing requirements. By reducing the barriers to using open source code libraries, this SaaS solution helps developers save time while producing better and more secure results.

2. Keeping Better Revision Logs

There is a good reason Git has become one of the most widely used and popular tools for developers across most disciplines. Tracking changes on projects that involve more than one person can sometimes not be prioritized enough even though it's incredibly important for the success of the project and is not always a simple task. Ignoring changes, redoing work, or eliminating updates can all result in wasted time and money, causing frustration and tension within a team. Version management is a critical aspect of any project.

Git lets teams keep highly detailed and granular records of all changes made to code, and keeps logs on any revisions, updates, versions, and more for all team members to see. Most importantly, Git allows teams and individuals to work on their own versions of code and modules thanks to its lack of a central repository. Once they are ready to integrate code, Git makes it easy to merge versions and avoid overlap or redundant changes. Finally, as an added bonus, most developers are familiar with Git due to its rising popularity and the ease with which even the largest code repositories--such as open source tools--can easily keep version tracking.

3. Documenting Projects Better

Documentation is often deprioritized in large projects that are looking to complete work quickly. This may provide dividends in the short run, but it can cause serious problems down the line for a variety of reasons. As different teams and individuals work on individual pieces of code and applications, understanding what each does and why it was written in a specific way is vital to avoid creating problems. However, keeping manual documentation is problematic at best, and can become tedious as projects grow.

GitBook is designed to simplify the documentation process and offers tools that make it easy to both create a history and search through it for future developers and stakeholders. This includes an editor that offers rich embeds, markdown support capabilities, and the ability to connect to GitHub for better version management and record keeping. Additionally, GitBook supports comments and peer editing for documentation, as well as version histories that let you see changes both to the code and documentation.

4. Using Gamification to Achieve Your Goals

Habitica solves one of the biggest problems dev teams have--how to set realistic goals, and more importantly, how to meet them consistently. On larger projects, small benchmarks can be neglected in favor of other "higher-priority" tasks, causing needless delays. Moreover, maintaining motivation over months-long slogs can be a difficult proposition even for the most cohesive teams.

The application works by creating a role-playing game in which the players (developers) gain rewards and experience by completing any given task, which can be as small as responding to an email and as large as delivering a project module. More importantly, it lets users play against each other, or even collaborate as teams to achieve greater successes--both in-game and on projects. The application lets users determine their own "rewards" and "punishments". Collaborative activities include "fighting bosses" and completing special challenges. By offering a fun way to motivate team members, Habitica helps maintain focus on the task at hand and ensure things happen when they need to.

5. Automating the Boring Stuff

Automation is a dev team's best friend when it comes to expediting everything from testing to module deployment. Manually testing massive code bases can take weeks and is incredibly inefficient. Moreover, things like server tasks for testing and deployment would require having a dedicated team member handling them, costing money and manpower from other areas. Jenkins is designed to remove these problems with an automation server that can handle the boring parts.

The application offers an easy solution for ongoing projects that require constant updates and integrations. Instead of having to take projects offline, Jenkins monitors repeated tasks and creates algorithms to manage different tasks such as test arrays, integration, and deployment of new modules and updates. Especially for teams that work with CI/CD paradigms, Jenkins can be the difference between hours wasted and fast integrations.

At the end of the day, embrace the mentality that there is a myriad of products, services, and tools to enhance productivity. Be proactive in your research to determine what can not only empower yourself but those around you.

Published on: Dec 6, 2018