Engineering teams are the backbone of any software development project. They are responsible for designing, building, testing, and deploying high-quality software solutions that meet the customers' and stakeholders' needs and expectations. However, not all engineering teams are equally effective and productive. Some teams may suffer from bad practices that hinder their performance and compromise results.

In this blog post, we will discuss some of the common bad practices of an engineering team and how to solve them.

Anti-Pattern #1: Lack of clear goals and priorities

One of the most important factors for a successful engineering team is to have clear and shared goals and priorities. Without them, the team may waste time and resources on irrelevant or low-value tasks, lose focus and direction, and fail to deliver what the customers want. To avoid this, the team should:

  • Define the project's scope, objectives, and success criteria in collaboration with the customers and stakeholders.
  • Break down the project into manageable tasks and assign them to different team members according to their skills and availability.
  • Use a project management tool or a kanban board to track the progress and status of each task and identify any dependencies or blockers.
  • Communicate regularly with the customers and stakeholders to get feedback, validate assumptions, and adjust the goals and priorities as needed.

For example, a team working on a web application for an e-commerce platform should have a clear vision of what features and functionalities they need to deliver. Additionally, they should know how to measure their success and what deadlines and milestones they must meet.

Clear division of labour among the front-end developers, back-end developers, testers, designers, etc., should also be practised. Tools like Jira or Trello can organize tasks and monitor their progress. They should also have frequent meetings with the client or the product owner to ensure they are on the same page and address any issues or changes.

Anti-Pattern #2: Poor communication and collaboration

Another essential factor for a successful engineering team is effective communication and collaboration. Without them, the team may suffer from misunderstandings, conflicts, duplication of work, missed deadlines, and low-quality outputs. To avoid this, the team should:

  • Establish clear roles and responsibilities for each team member and respect their autonomy and expertise.
  • Use a common language and terminology to avoid confusion and ambiguity.
  • Use a variety of communication channels and tools to share information, ideas, opinions, and feedback in a timely and transparent manner.
  • Hold regular meetings to discuss the project status, issues, challenges, and solutions.
  • Foster a culture of trust, respect, and support among the team members.

For example, a team working on a mobile application for a social media platform should clearly understand who is in charge of what aspect of the project and what their expectations and deliverables are. They should also use a consistent naming convention for their variables, functions, classes, etc.

Tools like Slack or MS Teams can be used to communicate with each other asynchronously or synchronously. Daily stand-ups or scrums can also be done regularly to share the team members' updates, challenges, and plans. Encouragement to ask questions, give feedback, and offer help to each other should also be regularly shown.

Anti-Pattern #3: Lack of testing and quality assurance

Another crucial factor for a successful engineering team is to have rigorous testing and quality assurance. Without them, the team may deliver software solutions that are buggy, insecure, unreliable, or incompatible with the customers' requirements or expectations. To avoid this, the team should:

  • Adopt a test-driven development (TDD) approach that involves writing tests before writing code.
  • Use a continuous integration (CI) tool that automatically builds and tests the code whenever a change occurs.
  • Use a continuous delivery (CD) tool that automatically deploys the code to a staging or production environment after passing the tests.
  • Use a code review tool that allows the team members to review each other's code and provide constructive feedback.
  • Use a bug-tracking tool that allows the team members to report, track, and resolve any defects or errors in the code.

For example, a team working on an API for a banking system should have a comprehensive suite of unit tests, integration tests, and end-to-end tests that cover all the possible scenarios and edge cases. Various tools can be made use of in the said scenario:

  1. Jenkins/GitHub Actions - to automate their build and test processes
  2. Heroku/AWS - to deploy their code to different environments and ensure it works as expected
  3. GitHub/Bitbucket - to review each other's code and suggest improvements or fixes
  4. Jira/Bugzilla - to manage their bug reports and resolutions

Anti-Pattern #4: Resistance to change and learning

Another important factor for a successful engineering team is the willingness to change and learn. Without them, the team may become stagnant, outdated, or irrelevant in a fast-paced and competitive industry. To avoid this, the team should:

  • Embrace agile methodologies that promote iterative development cycles, frequent feedback loops, and adaptive planning.
  • Experiment with new technologies, tools, frameworks, or methodologies that can improve the efficiency or quality of their work.
  • Seek customer, stakeholder, peer, or mentor feedback on improving their skills or performance.
  • Invest in continuous learning opportunities such as online courses, workshops, conferences, books, blogs, podcasts, etc.

For example, a team working on an AI model for image recognition should follow an agile approach that allows them to deliver incremental value and respond to changing requirements or feedback. In addition, it is recommended that they explore novel techniques or libraries that can improve the precision or speed of their model. They should also solicit feedback from experts or users on how to refine their model's performance or functionality and dedicate time to learn new skills or concepts that can help them grow as engineers.


Engineering teams are vital for delivering successful software solutions. However, they may face challenges or difficulties due to bad practices, affecting their performance or results. Engineering teams can improve their productivity, quality, and satisfaction by identifying these bad practices and applying some of the suggested solutions above.

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