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Why we've ditched context switching for development pods

Kathryn WhartonDevelopment

It’s common practice in the agency world for developers to work on more than one project at a time. 

Known as context switching, developers work on a number of projects simultaneously and move frequently between code repos, project briefs and technical requirements. 

We don’t think it works. 

So, we’ve made some changes to how we manage and deliver our mobile and web app projects by introducing development pods to hedgehog lab. 

Context switching kills productivity

Our head of technology, Dr Russell Collingham, believes context switching kills productivity. “Interruptions and switching between projects causes delays and eats into development time”, he says. 

Psychologist Gerald Weinberg states that focusing on one task at a time means you have 100% of your productive time available to that task. Every additional task takes up 20% of your productive time and a percentage of productivity is lost to switching between them. For example, if you’re switching between three tasks at a time, 20% of your productive time goes on each task and a huge 40% is lost to context switching. 

That’s a lot of client time and resources that we’d rather spend on developing world-leading digital products. 

Our new approach

At hedgehog lab, we’ve created a new approach to developing mobile and web apps. 

For each project, we create a development pod that includes experts from our product, design and technical teams which can include system architects, scrum masters and user researchers. This cross-disciplinary group brings together the right mix of skills to produce great work in the most efficient way possible. 

Benefits of development pods

Development pods offer a host of benefits to our clients, improving everything from the development process to the end product. 

  • Delivering great work quicker

Our development pods are self-sufficient units that can get things done quickly. 

As all of the skills and knowledge needed to deliver a project are represented in the pod, the team can make decisions without having to consult with experts elsewhere in the business. 

That reduces the development timeline massively and improves efficiency and productivity throughout the entire development process. 

  • Cross-sector knowledge

The experts in our development pods aren’t confined to working on just one sector. 

Each pod member is an expert in their field - whether it’s iOS or Android, product management or design - and applies their knowledge to a cross-sector portfolio of digital products. 

Within hedgehog lab, our experienced app developers have worked on mobile and web apps in a wide range of sectors, including financial services, health and wellbeing, supply chain and logistics, digital, energy and utilities, automotive, retail and consumer, and travel and leisure.

They bring the experience of all of these sectors to each pod they’re in, meaning our clients get solutions from a huge knowledge base of successful B-2-B and B-2-C projects. 

  • Sharing best practice 

While our development pods work as self-enclosed units, they still get to access the broad expertise from across our agency. 

App developers can confer with their colleagues at any time to review code or test solutions. They have access to immediate expert support when needed so that problems can be solved quickly and efficiently. 

Our technology team hosts a fortnightly meeting where they share learnings from across every project we’re currently delivering. Ideas and inspiration flow freely, and solutions to both small and complex problems are discovered. hedgehog lab is brimming with best practice and we share it to add value to our clients’ projects. 

  • Client contact

Clients love working with our development pods because they have a personal connection with their app developers.

They can contact a member of the pod directly at any time and know they will be speaking to someone who understands the project and its status. 

So much of delivering outstanding digital projects relies on a positive relationship between client and developer. With pods, our clients are reassured that their dedicated team of trustworthy developers is focusing 100% on delivering the best possible app for them and their users. 

Get in touch

If you’d like to know more about how our development pods could make your mobile or web app development project more productive, get in touch now