Engineering

Why Should Software Engineers Be Good Writers?

4 min read

When people think of software engineers, they generally don’t think about the painstaking authors meticulously putting together words on a page. 

Software engineers may write code, but to the common eye, this is just gibberish on a computer screen. 

In reality, software engineering relies heavily on establishing a wide-ranging level of comprehension.

Not only does code need to perform well, but software developers on an engineering team need to be able to tell what the code does and end users need to understand how to use the code. 

For this reason, the ability to write clearly and concisely is an indispensable skill for any software development endeavor. 

To learn more about the importance of writing in software engineering, keep reading!

Why a Written Culture Works

To be clear, there is almost never a bad time to adopt a written culture. 

Yet many start-ups can manage cross-silo collaboration without much of an internal organization strategy. 

When the size of your company is only a handful of people, you’ve probably never imagined that incentivizing strong writing skills would be a priority. ""

 

But for businesses looking to scale their software development teams, having engineers who are good writers quickly becomes a larger concern. 

Scaling businesses have often just received a significant investment from eager stakeholders vying for the market success of a clever product idea. 

To see a project of this kind to the finish line, staff augmentation is generally warranted. 

Staff augmentation will likely introduce a few outside elements that can put small development teams outside of their comfort zone. 

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Asynchronous teams
  • Onboarding
  • Code sharing

Asynchronous Teams

Due to the ease of hiring remote software developers, it is easy to find your team strewn across different continents and time zones. 

What this means is that developers will be working on asynchronous workflows. 

In the past, conversation and folklore may have paved a well-trodden path for a close-knit group of software engineers. 

But with new staff working on heterogeneous schedules, waiting for live collaborating time will ultimately just waste time. 

Your development cycle and business organization as a whole will perform best when documentation enters the picture and self-service becomes standard practice. 

Onboarding

Onboarding requires a similar dedication to establishing a written culture. 

If you don’t have a well-structured process for onboarding new team members, you’ll notice that your senior developers lag behind the rest. 

These are the same developers that were the backbone of your last successful engineering project. 

These are team members who could always reliably push out quality code in the past, on time and without difficulty. 

What went wrong? Without a clear-cut rubric for graduating developers from rookies to autonomous, self-sufficient developers, your long-timers will constantly be holding their hands. 

The result is that their calendars remain full even though their pull requests are dropping. 

Efficient onboarding relies on comprehensive documentation and processes that leave your new developers supported and your old developers productive. 

Code Sharing 

When there are only a few software engineers working on a project, developers tend to get territorial over their niche codebases. 

While this isn’t a huge issue on a small team, staff augmentation happens for a reason. In adding new members, you’ll be assigning them to work on previously written code. 

Ideally, new members should understand the code they’re looking at. But with a wealth of personalities and code writing styles, this has never been a guarantee in software development. 

Software engineers who are good writers and tech businesses that prioritize writing can easily overcome such indiscretions. Whether code comments, code style guides, or both, having developers reserve time to explain and define the overall purpose and structure of code through writing can only help you and your business. 

What Software Engineers Write

A common misconception is that the development process is the most important part of a market-ready software product. In fact, code quality does preserve the integrity of a codebase and a software product’s altogether functionality. 

But the success of a software product depends on much more than writing code.

Here are a few other scenarios where you’ll find having software engineers who are good writers to be crucial to business scalability:

  1. Technical Documentation

    Technical documentation extends past writing code comments and style guides.

    Worthy technical documentation should exist both internally and externally.

    Internal technical documentation should outline functional requirements, a product roadmap, the design and architecture of the software, and other essential features of the development process.

    External documentation should benefit customers by serving as a user guide.

    In addition, technical documentation can include user documentation for system admins as well as process documentation that charts plans, estimates, schedules, reporting, and other principal logistics for the software project. 
  2. Meeting Agendas

    You should equip writing to maximize the value you get out of limited collaboration time. 

    Most people who’ve dealt with work meetings groan and whine to co-workers and friends about the pointless chit-chat that occurs in spite of their mandatory designation. 

    Don’t be the person that takes time out of your team’s day just to oscillate between major work topics and the latest shower thought to disrupt your quotidian weekday. 

    Some might appreciate the rapport, but time is of the essence. 

    Set, plan, and write an agenda in advance to stay on task during meetings and send this out to other team members in advance.

  3. Digital Communication

    As you hire remote developers, you’ll recognize an increasing need for digital communication. 

    Among tools for remote work that support concise and immediate communication, Slack stands out as a premier software platform for office exchanges of all kinds. 

    But although Slack might give your team the privilege of instant messaging, this does not mean that you can resort to the type of curt and empty texts you send to your friends. 

    Clear communication is still a must, even digitally. 

    Software engineers who are good writers use digital communication to ask questions, clarify tasks, give feedback, and more. 

  4. Code Reviews

    Code reviews take code comments to the next level. They enable knowledge sharing by allowing developers to check the codebase of other developers. 

    In short, code reviews act as a form of quality assurance that 

    (1) uncovers logical errors;

    (2) checks for requirement implementations; 

    (3) inquires whether pre-established automated tests are sufficient;
    (4) and ensures new code conforms to subsisting style guidelines.

    Generally, code reviews imply an extensive process, but they are also a valuable part of the development cycle.

    It is good practice for developers reviewing code to explain their feedback to the code writer directly.

    However, it’s also good practice in code reviews to leave comments and explanations within the code review tool and/or the codebase itself. 

    A truly helpful code review will provide reasoning behind the feedback that is given without attacking the developer themself but the choices the developer chooses to make.
  5. Bug Reports

Bug reports are a vital element of software testing storing all information necessary for documenting, reporting, and fixing software bugs. 

Given the critical nature of bug reports, good writing is paramount. 

Effective bug reports are specific, unassuming, and meaningfully describe bugs in a way that developers can understand. 

Scale with Good Writers 

Hiring software engineers who are good writers provide exceptional business value for engineering teams looking to scale. 

Many software companies are ready to pull the trigger when it comes to hiring new developers to furnish an exciting project. 

But more often than not, further introspection is required to determine the readiness of a scaling engineering team. 

Sometimes the concern isn’t hiring developers, but which developers can best upholster a budding startup on the verge of something great. 

For more insights detailing how you can prepare your development team to scale, consult with Trio today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are asynchronous teams?

Asynchronous teams consist of team members who do not work in the same location, time zone, or for one reason or another adopt asynchronous schedules. 

Why is writing important in software engineering?

Writing is important in software engineering to document repeatable processes, ultimately saving time in development and overall.

What are bug reports?

Bug reports are a vital element of software testing storing all information necessary for documenting, reporting, and fixing software bugs. 

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