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What Does a Development Lead Do?

By Brandi L. Brown
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A development lead is someone who works to manage the work of other application developers. Unlike managerial positions in information technology, the development lead does not work to supervise workplace issues, such as employee performance problems, team assignments and human resources concerns. The development lead instead manages the process of building, deploying and de-bugging a project’s code. The lead’s work with other application developers revolves around this supervision of the coding process, rather than the employee.

Planning is the first stage of software lifecycle development. The development lead, in most instances, comes into the project somewhere in the planning process and speaks to what the development team can complete. The development lead’s role will be to review what the business analyst and the client decided about a project’s deadlines and resource allocation and determine whether the requirements will work with the abilities of the software developers.

Once the project’s planning phase is complete, the development lead begins to dole out portions of the code. Though such leads sometimes have not worked in active coding for years, they need to understand how complex each portion of a project will be. The lead will assign work to each member of the development team, based largely on how advanced that developer’s skills are. The members of the development team will work independently on their code while the lead generally supervises their progress and makes necessary adjustments to the assignments.

Throughout the active coding phase of software development, the lead works to make sure that all of the parts of the program are progressing. He also will check to make sure that the overall project’s functionality works. Sections of code sometimes do not work well together, and the lead will need to work with the programmers to make the appropriate changes. The programming lead also may step in to do coding if there are concerns about the project’s timeline or a specific developer’s ability to meet the requirements.

A software development lead’s work is not complete with the end of active coding on a project. The lead will help through the de-bugging and testing process. During this time, the development leads checks all code to make sure that it has the required functionality in the development environment. Once the code goes into the production database, the development lead is on hand to handle any problems that arise, whether those problems are simple syntax errors or significant problems with how the code behaves once deployed.

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