Best practices in managing dedicated software development teams remotely!
For a long time now, hiring remote teams for software development has been one of the best practices in the IT industry. And the recent pandemic of covid-19 has not only boosted this practice but also confirmed that it is more productive in comparison to in-house development. So, it is about time that businesses, especially startups must hire dedicated teams to develop custom, high-performing, next-gen apps.
The opportunity of working remotely was valued by software development companies long before the pandemic hit. When developers were asked where would they prefer to work? 33% replied that they would prefer to work remotely whereas 35% of software developers said that working remotely is their main priority for the job. This is the reason why many top technology companies are giving up their offices or allowing their employees to work remotely forever.
So if your company has hired some or all remote developers for work then it is about time that you implement some of the formulas to maintain or increase the productivity of your team.
Best Practices to Manage a remote team
Create a Schedule
During a remote collaboration, the biggest challenge a project manager faces is keeping the team in sync. To achieve that, all you have to do is select an ideal time of the day to communicate with your team of dedicated developers. This is pretty much common for the tech leaders to run teams overseas as there are a few overlapping hours when you can decide to communicate.
You might wish that your dedicated software development team and your in-house team must have common working hours but it is important to consider that your remote team needs enough time to rest and have a personal and social life as well. So it is recommended that you set working hours for a remote team that is compatible with both. Otherwise, it will be impossible for them to maintain a healthy work-life balance when they are working at night.
They can also work on regular hours which means they will have progress to report when your in-house team arrives at work. And if necessary the remote team can shift a few hours of the workday ahead to overlap working time with yours so you can discuss with them the details of the project and address important issues.
Adopt Agile Methodology
Any business owner wishing to collaborate effectively with their remote developers uses agile methodologies. This approach enables them to create the product and also get constant feedback from the client while the developing process is still in progress. Doing so will prevent you from investing time and resources in a finished product which is way more costly in comparison to using agile methodology. Because when you use agile, you are continuously developing and making updates as per the customer or user feedback.
“The purpose of Agile is to keep coding projects moving and to avoid stagnation,” says Jon Evans, CTO of HappyFunCorp. He further includes that "you ship code regularly and frequently. Because if you don't–well, in my experience, software stagnation is subject to the Lindy Effect; the longer you have stagnated, the longer you will stagnate.”
You must allow flexibility in the working hours of the dedicated developers to some extent. They will appreciate it but you don't want to give too much freedom either or you might end up having a lot of trouble and you won't even be able to gather your remote team for a sync-up call. There is another side to flexibility too. Sometimes the remote employees find it very difficult to sign out even after the day’s work is over. So it is suggested that you set working time for your remote team as they would work on any normal day and give them a finishing time with a starting time and suggest that they stick to it.
Create work-defined system
There are four rules to manage a team. It is important when you are managing an in-house team but it becomes critical when you have a dedicated development team to manage.
- Prepare the guidelines for the project so that the team knows what is expected from them. It helps you increase their productivity, accountability and foster teamwork. It would be good if you measure both your in-house and remote team with the same standards. It is important to not create any kind of hostility.
- Always explain both the idea of the project and the desired results in detail to your team. Whether you are working with remote developers or in-house, if you want your project to be successful then you have to ensure that your team understands your business goals.
- What you will be able to communicate to the dedicated team would define the estimate of your project. The more clearly you explain your idea, the precise the quote will be. Offering in-depth information will clarify the vision of the project.
- Assign roles to every individual as well as define the tasks clearly and if any questions are asked, give answers in detail. Before starting the project, review all the requirements to make sure all the functionalities are included. Reply to your project manager’s emails on time as it is their responsibility to pass down your message to the team and make sure that everyone is on the same page. Because the development of your product will solely depend on what information your team gets.
You also have to be aware of the fact that remote teams don't share the luxury of an in-house team working with you closely. So, you might not notice any mistake made in communication with your remote team very quickly which will lead to wastage of time and resources.
Utilizing the right set of tools
Use project management software that will help you effectively handle your remote team. Use management tools to schedule projects and activities, assign tasks to each remote worker, and more. Remote working will foster if you get it all under one roof. Project management software allows you to connect and communicate with your remote employees and it allows you to manage the productivity of the team. What you can do with the right management tools:
- Keeps track of the progress of the project
- Tracking the workforce productivity
- Maintain and manage timesheets
- Real-time information sharing
- Conduct team discussion sessions
- Managing tasks on a task list
- Interact across diverse time zones
You have to use the right tools to make sure that your software development team is working properly and up to the mark. And with the advent of technology in this digital age, operating a global team has become possible. You just need to use the right tools to organize your dedicated team of developers. Some examples of right management tools include:
- G-Suite - Google provides productivity and collaboration apps for businesses. G-suite is a combination of all Google softwares and features which makes it an incredible powerhouse for productivity.
- ZOHO - This tool offers everything a business needs for managing teams under one roof including spreadsheets, databases, web conferencing, project management invoices, wikis, word processing, presentations, note-taking, customer relationship management, and more.
- SLACK - It is one kind of virtual office. You can create project-specific chat rooms using this communication software. Some companies create channels with a specific tag so that the information with a tag flows right to the place where it needs to go.
- ZOOM - One of the popular video-conferencing tools for businesses. It has been used widely since the pandemic hit. Larger groups can join in for a video call. You can leverage this for the remote team to be present for their clients or important meetings.
- ASANA - It is one of the most comprehensive project management tools. Here, you can create and delegate tasks, build a schedule, communicate, and report the progress of a project.
TRELLO - This tool helps you smoothen your workflow with the help of some visual cues. It is based on the Kanban method. Now differentiate the tasks based on the degree of completion or status in Trello when you are creating a task board.
Foster a Culture of Communication
Being a leader of the team, it is your responsibility to ensure that everyone is working in sync. The coordination must be maintained among the team members. And to make that happen, you have to foster a culture of communication at work. You can always lead by example if they see you being a good communicator then they are going to follow you into the good habits. So, hold check-ins and give regular updates to your dedicated development team.
Set clear guidelines about how you want your staff to communicate because you don't want them to surround the workplace with obscurity. So, provide an outline about what kind of messages they should send through the communication channels and in what manner a team member is expected to interact with each other.
This becomes necessary for your remote team because you have a culturally diverse staff where team members are located in different time zones. So you need to remove all the language barriers and time differences as soon as possible. A team leader must also provide some tips for effective communication.
If it is possible, arrange for a face-to-face meeting of the entire team at least once a year. Meeting in person would help your remote staff transform into a working team. It also gives them a chance to get to know each other well beyond their work which is also a great team-building exercise.
Collaborating with customer
When you meet the expectations or fulfill the requirements of your customers, they feel satisfied. Software developers know some techniques that allow them to understand what customers have in their minds and what results they expect them to deliver.
Generally, some teams have customer interactions at two points only. First when they note the business requirements of the clients and the other time when they deliver the finished product to meet these requirements. Apart from those two, a development team rarely interacts with the customers. but agile teams are not the same. They stay in constant touch with their clients, continuously verifying that they have understood their expectations clearly at every stage of development. If any changes are needed then also they collaborate to fix the issue and analyze the options they haven't considered before.
When your team will communicate with the customers you can deliver upon their expectations and more importantly you increase the quality of the product. Though it is a challenge for the teams when the customers come back with too many changes for the product. It then all depends upon how you collaborate with them to satisfy their demands. Your teams and the customers need to work together to develop a product that users will love to use. It might not be the way customers have envisioned but it surely is a sustainable way that promotes creativity too.
Challenges in Managing Remote Teams
Well, it is true that when you choose to work with remote staff, you are presented with great opportunities to tap into the pool of unbound global talent and other resources. But every good thing brings its own set of challenges. Some of which are as mentioned below:
- Sharing the Company Vision and Value: if you want your team to deliver expected results then not only do you want them to understand the objectives of the project but it is equally important that your remote team which is spread around the world in different time zones also understand the vision, values and the culture of your company. Only when they will understand them, will they work accordingly.
- Team Knitting: It is not easy to bring together a team whose members come from different backgrounds. You have to put in the effort to knit your team as one single machinery working to achieve the goals of the project. This can be accomplished by organizing occasional travels and conducting some team-building exercises online.
- Practising Agile: The agile methodologies are proved effective when the development team is working together at the same location, it is to ensure effective communication which helps address the issues and eliminate them quickly. But when a team is working in different time zones, it is challenging to conduct the sprint meetings. The reminders are easily missed in such situations.
Managing a dedicated software development team is not an easy task. When you opt to partner with an outsourcing company, you will get both benefits and challenges. But those challenges can be overcome easily. You will need a remote team to support you in securing the newly distributed network when you are going fully digital. These dedicated developers are productive enough to rise to the occasion to meet the customer expectations.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Cammi