Earlier this year, I rotated onto a long-running project. This was the first project I’d joined that already had an established code base and team. This particular project is complex, with a large team, big goals, and a long history.
When I joined the project, the client was concerned that working with new people and losing old ones might decrease the output of the team. After all, the client knew the current team and didn’t want to see them move on, given their built-up knowledge of the project domain.
While there are downsides to rotating people on and off projects, I have come to see some real benefits, as well.
Benefit 1: New Ideas and Fresh Perspective
Adding new people to a project can bring new creative ideas to the table. On software projects, there is a lot of room for fresh solutions and approaches.
For example, when new team members join the project, it forces the team to review existing workflows and future story work. Folks joining the project may raise new questions and bring new ideas that benefit the project. Remember, one of the benefits of hiring consultants is that you gain a new perspective and an external mindset.
When I first joined my project, I wasn’t getting a lot of value from our team’s daily stand-up. I lacked context for some of the updates people were giving. I wasn’t sure if this was just a “me problem” or if other people felt the same way. My team discussed this and learned that a lot of people felt the same, so we made a change.
Benefit 2: Increased Morale
Atomic makers are generalists. We get to use emerging technologies, employ different tools, and work in a variety of business domains. I enjoy this, and I think many Atoms feel the same — it’s part of the appeal of working here. Because of this, staying on one project for an extended period of time can feel challenging.
Bringing new people into the project can inject some much-needed energy and enthusiasm. On the surface, this may seem like it’s just about employee quality of life, not project quality. But I would argue that it’s also in the best interest of the project to have a highly engaged and enthusiastic team.
Benefit 3: Onboarding Standardization
On a software project, the ease or difficulty of developer onboarding can affect the technical quality of a project. If it’s tricky to get a project running on your computer, it may continue to eat up time throughout the project. As a project grows and finds success, new people will continue to join, and that process will become more and more important.
When a team regularly brings in new people, it pushes them to clarify and document the steps and requirements for the setup of the project. This can also make deployments easier.
While there are some downsides to rotating people on and off projects, I think the benefits far outweigh any perceived loss of productivity. Team members who join a project bring fresh perspectives, the enthusiasm to sustain long-running engagements, and an incentive to improve the robustness of tooling around the project.