Project Tasks (Establishing Your Team)

CET206 – Software Engineering Enterprise And Innovation

Establishing Your Team

The software development project you are about to undertake will necessitate that you work as a member of a small development team. The typical life of a small team takes on a particular learning process, characterised by the four stages of forming, storming, norming and performing. These stages can be described by:-


At the beginning, you will be concentrating on organising yourself into a team more than considering the problem. At this stage the main objective of your team is to relax and orientate itself, determining the team structure and ground rules you will adopt as you solve the problem. Each member of the team needs to begin to understand how their role and behaviour contributes to the dynamics of the team (and as a consequence to the solution of the problem). One main contribution to this forming stage is to establish a sense of trust throughout the team.


At this point, conflicts will emerge. There will be rivalries for leadership and for the roles to be played in the team. You may have concerns about the commitment of team members to finding a solution. You need to recognise such conflicts and help resolve them, seeking “win-win” solutions and learning how the team can find them. You may need to engage some form of mediation at this point, which is where your tutors can help to maintain fairness while the team moves from a “testing and proving” mentality to a problem-solving one.


The team now becomes cohesive. Leadership is shared. The team will be fairly independent at this point. Data flow and communication channels within the team should now be established and you should be encouraging creativity within the team, helping you feel good and encouraging you to optimise the solutions to the problems you are working on.


This is when the real work is done and the real learning occurs. You may only latterly reach this stage and some teams may not reach the stage at all. Your confidence and competence will now be high, allowing you to refine and redefine your own team dynamics further.

Session Tasks

You are going to spend this session starting the forming process for your team. In particular you are going to establish the team ground rules that will underpin the way your team will operate. This will begin to engender a sense of trust within the team and to also help to frame each team member’s roles and responsibilities in the operation of the team.

To help you establish your ground rules it is recommended that your team engages in the following activities:-

Meet and greet – allow EVERY team member to introduce themselves to the rest of the team. Providing your name, your course and your contact details (eg. Email address) is a good start here.

Skills and interests – allow EVERY team member to give a quick overview of their perceived relevant skills that they can bring to the team and also any particular interests they would like to either get out of the team working or that they feel can contribute to the team working.

Communication – this will be your most important concern throughout the operation of the team. Discuss the various ways you feel the team can establish a strong communication ethos and how such an ethos can be put into effect. You will have team members spread across the majority of our computing programmes of study so each member may have specific requirements relating to the way communication is undertaken. As a minimum you must establish channels to communicate any work the team undertakes across the WHOLE team membership.

Ways of working – since you have disparate team members with their own academic/ social needs and responsibilities your team must establish ways in which it can ensure effective working. For instance, how will you meet up to undertake your communication, how will you bring team members together for pair programming work or maybe how will you work on parallel tasks spread across the team members.

Roles – consider how the various roles within the team will be established, appointed, and managed. Try to articulate the various responsibilities each of these roles will undertake. If you can, begin to appoint the roles you identify at this time for the first stages of the project. Maybe your team wishes to rotate roles, possible either across the full team or amongst those team members who wish to experience different responsibilities.

Tools and techniques – establish the various tools and techniques you are to adopt to help with the running of your team. In particular you must at least establish the tools you will adopt to begin opening an effective communication channel across the whole team. Later you will need tools to manage the various documents and artefacts the team will work with (for instance your team reports, presentations and the software system you will be developing). If you can, begin to consider the tools and techniques you might adopt for these deliverables from the team.

Team name – provide one for your team (keep it within normal rules of decency and it needs to be given the okay by a module tutor). Naming your team helps to establish a sense of ownership of the team within the team membership. It can also help with communication.

At the end of your discussions and decisions around the above you should be able to articulate and document a set of team ground rules. Whilst these will probably be, to some extent, fluid as you work on your project, it is imperative that you complete at least a draft set of these rules by the end of today’s session. Before you leave the session present these ground rules to one of the module tutors to gain a level acceptance of your draft ground rules. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE TODAY’S SESSION UNTIL YOU HAVE DONE THIS AND RECEIVED A TUTOR’S

PERMISSION TO LEAVE. You must also leave a copy of these draft ground rules with a tutor before you leave, clearly marking your team name and the names of your team members against them.