Building Your iOS Dream Team for Cross-functional Success

by PTP Chicago
August 29, 2023
Building iOs Dream Team

It’s kickoff time for your next big iOS development project, and you’re only as good as your development team. In fact, 75% of so-called “cross-functional” teams are actually just dysfunctional teams with better PR. So: Who’s in your corner? Are your Avengers, so to speak, assembled and ready to win, or are they acting more like sulky teens trying to ditch a high school group project? Whether you think of group work and go “Woohoo!” or “Oh no!”, we’ve got strategies that will show how you can lead your cross-functional team of iOS developers to victory each day, sprint, and milestone (all without losing your mind in the process).  


Table of Contents: 

  1. Team Selection: 
  2. Hard/Soft Skills   
  3. Team Management:  
  4. Documentation 
  5. Feedback 
  6. Collaboration 
  7. OKRs 
  8. Summation 


Form Your Team 

To get the best and brightest iOS specialists on board, up to speed, and ready to rock means starting your own work way back before development has even begun. Since this team is going to be cross-functional, you’ll be bringing together members of the organization from a whole host of different departments, all of whom will (hopefully) be multidisciplinary multitasking masters of coding. But you can’t just poach everyone smart and hope for the best outcome – for one thing, it’s tech; we’re all smart, it’s a job requirement – it’s much better to think strategically about not just the skill sets, but the personalities and work styles that will need to mesh during development.  

One of the great benefits of working cross-functionally in iOS development is that you can cast a very wide net, pulling individuals with distinct technical skill sets into the project at the point/s when and where they will make the most impact on the end result. The entire org is your oyster! (For the most part.) Prioritizing diversity when assessing members, both in terms of skill set and in terms of life experiences, will result in a team that’s able to ideate both rapidly and creatively.

[RELATED: Project Managers Need AI to Step Into the Future.] 


Key Skills to Prioritize 

You also want to look for people with really well-developed soft skills, like respecting deadlines/due dates, critical thinking ability, and (the most important of the soft skills) communication. If you can only master one soft skill, and everyone reading this blog can do way more than that, make it communication. Not only does it improve your quality of life working as a team, but as Justin Etheredge, the CEO, and co-founder of digital agency Simple Thread, notes, it improves the quality of your product’s documentation: “Good written communication is one of the most important skills for any software engineer to master.” In terms of hard skills, look to prioritize experts in iOS development mainstays Objective-C, Swift, and Cocoa; fortunately, thanks to Apple’s excellent documentation and developer support, these skills are plentiful.  


Manage Your Team  

“The most common cause of project failure is the lack of strictly defined goals.” – The Project Management Institute  

After you’ve located your rockstars, gurus, ninjas, or whatever strange/zany “person good at their job” metaphor we’re using for developers this week, is your contribution complete? Not even close. As part of the project’s leadership, you’re responsible for keeping everything advancing on time and accurate to the project requirements. Let’s explore how that looks in practice. 


Document. Everything. 

While you’re on the lookout for developers who communicate well, you’ll also have to become one yourself and document your iOS application in a clear, concise manner. You should seek to present this information to the team verbally or on a call, and make sure that copies are easily located. You’ll want to outline the following items, at a minimum: 

  • Teamwork Expectations 
  • Team Structure Chart or similar diagram 
  • Project Expectations (AKA scope) 
  • Objectives and Key Results (or OKRs, for short) 
  • Project Strategy 


Don’t Slack on Feedback! 

Make sure you’ve established a regular performance review cadence for your team members – and for best results, do it before you’re several months into the project and can’t spend much time on such things. Providing your iOS software development team with feedback improves both their skills and the resulting product, so it’s literally a win-win.  

While the refrain tends to be that nobody has time for the process, many tech organizations are very busy, very successful, and very much feedback-driven. Make time for it – your developers are highly skilled professionals, and there’s nothing worse for someone like that than feeling like their output is shouted into a void. In fact, studies have shown that around 44% of employees will eventually look to leave jobs that they feel don’t recognize their contributions. The good news? Nearly 70% of employees say they would want to work harder in their current roles – if their efforts were more seen. 


[RELATED: It’s Not One Size Fits All: Adapting Culture Change For Your Company.] 


Simplify Cross-Functional Collaboration  

There are a lot of avenues to explore in making your iOS dev team’s collaboration easier. One of the quickest ways is to ensure that all – or almost all – of the team’s tools are designed to integrate with each other. With fewer tasks requiring them to hop between a million mandatory corporate applications and their development setups, this works to speed up day-to-day operations even as it helps the team stay focused and productive.  

Is there anything else you can do? Of course. Interpersonally speaking, what you want to do is create a culture of empathy. Empathy, defined as the ability to understand and share someone else’s feelings despite not sharing their exact circumstances, is the key to better, more caring human interaction. If you take the lead and model empathy when guiding your team, they’re more likely to follow suit when working together.  


“Some of the common issues in software development are avoidable with a bit more empathy. You don’t need to be a user researcher, UX designer, or anthropologist. Being more empathetic starts and ends with you being a human being aware of other people.” — Vibor Cipan, CEO, Point Jupiter

Keep On Top of OKRs 

Objectives and Key Results get outlined and documented at the outset, but that shouldn’t be the only time you think about them! When leading your team, devote time to helping them understand the project fully and set individual goals for their own performance and contributions. You can and should also make sure that these goals are grounded in the overall team’s objectives, as well as the company’s larger initiatives and strategy. This approach fosters a feeling of agency within your team members while letting you keep things on track.

Give key data and results their own home within your team’s collaboration tools. The quicker you’re able to check and infer from this information, the faster you can course-correct if you notice, for example, that progress toward certain milestones or backlog items has stalled. What you track depends on how your company operates as well as the company and team’s goals, so it might look different from team to team. As Rebecca Hinds, Head of Asana’s Work Innovation Lab, points out: “Collaboration is complex… That’s why a data-driven approach is so crucial. You can only improve collaboration when you understand how your company works.”

The Employer Perspective: Wrapping Up  

How do you feel about collaborating with your freshly formed cross-functional iOS dev team now? When you put these simple principles to the test, you will avert many common team management issues while still delivering your iOS software projects on schedule and on budget. While these concepts are simply stated, their execution will be different, and potentially difficult — but it sure beats the alternative, for you, your team, and your product.


– John Karantonis

(Client Development Partner)

26+ Years in IT Placements & Staffing Solutions


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