What to do When Your Team Isn't Delivering

William R Marchand
April 3, 2023

In this post, I want like to examine some of the most typical obstacles that development teams face, such as a lack of technical skills, inadequate dedicated QA resources, feature creep, bureaucracy and internal politics, imprecise requirements, and a lack of desire. We will examine how these difficulties can impede the success of a project and provide practical methods to address them. By addressing these concerns, organisations may offer their teams with the necessary tools and support for optimal performance, resulting in more effective execution, enhanced cooperation, and on-time project completion

Lack of technical skills

A lack of technical skills within a team can significantly contribute to underperformance and impede project success in a variety of ways. Inadequate skills can lead to inefficient execution, resulting in longer development times, more errors, and lower-quality final products. This issue can also lead to an increased reliance on skilled team members, resulting in bottlenecks and project delays. Teams with insufficient technical expertise may struggle with problem solving and spend an inordinate amount of time troubleshooting issues. Poor communication and misunderstandings can occur when team members lack technical knowledge, making it difficult for them to effectively articulate their challenges or ideas. When technical skills are lacking, the team's competitiveness suffers due to hampered innovation and adaptability to new technologies or methodologies. Finally, feelings of inadequacy and frustration can have an effect.

Solutions to lack of technical skills

The effectiveness of training as a solution depends on the nature of the work. If your team is developing from your own customized tools and codebase for their projects, it may be necessary to provide them with more training and documentation on those specific tools. However, if the job involves more on-the-fly coding and invention, it can be challenging to train people effectively in a short amount of time. In this scenario, education and experience are crucial, and it's possible that your team members may be too junior for the type of work you require.


While it can be a difficult decision, there may come a time when you must replace someone due to their lack of technical skills. In the end, this decision will benefit both your project and your team.

Change to organisational structure

If some of your team members are not performing to their skill level and experience, you may not need to fire them right away. You could instead assign them to specific tasks may be a better approach. Programming software entails a wide range of tasks of varying difficulty. You could consider assigning the underperforming team member to tasks that are simpler or have less room for creativity, with the help of your project manager. You can use their skills and help them improve their performance in this manner without having to let them go.

Lack of dedicated QA ressource

Developers should test their code both automatically and manually, but in the absence of a dedicated QA person, it can be difficult to ensure that everything is working properly.

This is especially true for frontend development, where there are many variables to consider and developers rarely perform automated tests.

Solutions to lack of decicated QA ressource

When considering the QA role, the decision between hiring a dedicated person or selecting someone within the company may depend on resource availability. If resources are limited, the latter option may be the only feasible one. However, if you do decide to select someone within the company, it's crucial to choose someone who understands the project's goals and objectives. This way, they can effectively perform the QA role and ensure that the project meets the desired outcomes.

Features creep

Feature creep occurs when additional features, tasks, or fixes are continually introduced while a team member is working on a specific feature, leading to a significant decrease in productivity. This phenomenon is commonly observed in teams employing the agile methodology and those with multiple stakeholders. In such cases, stakeholders may introduce new tasks or adjustments during a sprint, making it challenging for the team to complete the intended set of tasks within the sprint duration.

Solutions to features creep

One effective solution to address and prevent feature creep is to set boundaries for stakeholders. This involves communicating the project scope and objectives to all stakeholders and establishing limits for their involvement. Encourage stakeholders to provide input during the planning phase while limiting their ability to introduce new features or adjustments during the development phase.

Red Tape and Internal politics

Red tape and internal politics can significantly slow down a project by creating unnecessary hurdles and delays. Red tape refers to excessive bureaucratic procedures and regulations that can hamper progress and increase project timelines. This can include lengthy approval processes, complex decision-making structures, and stringent compliance requirements. These bureaucratic obstacles can make it difficult to implement changes or get approval for critical project elements, resulting in delays and missed deadlines.

Internal politics, on the other hand, refers to the power struggles, tensions, and conflicts that can arise within a team or organization. Internal politics can lead to competing priorities, personal biases, and hidden agendas that can impede decision-making and hinder progress. This can result in delays in project timelines, missed opportunities, and inefficient use of resources.

Both red tape and internal politics can also impact team morale and motivation, leading to decreased engagement and productivity. Employees may feel frustrated, disengaged, and demotivated when faced with excessive bureaucracy and internal conflicts, further exacerbating project delays and impacting overall project success.

Solutions to red tape and internal politics

Red tape can be reduced by restructuring your organisation to reduce bureaucracy and increase efficiency. This can be accomplished by streamlining decision-making processes, reducing the number of layers and steps, and empowering team members to make decisions within their areas of expertise. Creating cross-functional teams can also improve communication and collaboration, allowing for faster issue resolution and more agile responses to project changes. Implementing lean and agile methodologies can aid in the identification of unnecessary bureaucracy and the prioritisation of tasks that provide the most value.

Unclear requirements

Uncertain requirements can stymie a project by causing confusion, misunderstandings, and timeline delays. If project requirements are not clearly defined, team members may struggle to understand the project's goals and priorities, resulting in inefficient execution and a lack of focus. This can result in team members devoting excessive time to tasks that aren't critical to the project's success, further delaying the project's timeline. Furthermore, unclear requirements can cause misunderstandings and miscommunication among team members, leading to errors and rework. Members of the team may be unaware of their role in the project, the specific tasks they must complete, or the expected outcomes, resulting in delays and inefficiencies.

Solutions to unclear requirements

To address these challenges, organizations must prioritize establishing clear project requirements, including specific goals, timelines, and deliverables. This can involve regular communication with stakeholders, involving team members in the requirement-gathering process, and clearly defining project milestones and deliverables. Additionally, implementing agile project management methodologies can help address unclear requirements by promoting regular feedback and iteration, ensuring that team members stay aligned on project goals and priorities. By prioritizing clear requirements, organizations can ensure that team members stay focused and motivated, leading to more efficient execution and timely project completion.

Lack of motivation

Lack of motivation can significantly slow down a development team, affecting their performance in several ways. Reduced productivity occurs when unmotivated team members become disengaged and put in less effort, causing tasks to take longer to complete and deadlines to be missed. The quality of work may also suffer, as unmotivated individuals may not pay attention to detail or strive for excellence. This lack of motivation can spread throughout the team, resulting in a drop in overall team morale and a negative work environment. Furthermore, communication and collaboration may suffer as unmotivated team members are less likely to actively participate in discussions and share their ideas or concerns, limiting the team's ability to effectively solve problems.

Solutions to lack of motivation

Consider implementing strategies such as setting clear goals and expectations to help individuals stay focused, providing regular feedback and recognition to boost morale, and fostering an open communication environment for sharing ideas, concerns, and challenges to address and improve a lack of motivation within a development team. Furthermore, provide opportunities for growth and development, such as learning new skills, taking on new responsibilities, or moving up in their careers. Creating a positive work environment that encourages collaboration and teamwork, as well as ensuring team members have the resources and support they need to complete their tasks, can all help to boost motivation and overall team performance.

Finally, addressing common development team challenges such as a lack of technical skills, insufficient dedicated QA resources, feature creep, red tape and internal politics, unclear requirements, and a lack of motivation is critical for project success. Implementing practical solutions and cultivating a supportive environment for your team can result in more efficient execution, improved collaboration, and project completion on time.

Hiring a Chief Technology Officer is one approach to effectively managing these challenges. A CTO can offer technical leadership, strategic vision, and extensive experience managing development teams. They can assist in determining the root causes of poor performance, streamlining processes, and implementing best practises to boost team productivity and morale. A CTO can also manage stakeholder expectations and ensure that projects are carried out in accordance with clearly defined requirements. By bringing in a CTO, you can significantly improve the performance of your development team and drive your projects to success.