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Managing Remote Software Development Teams

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Businesses continuously seek to reduce operational costs. One of the primary strategies used to cut costs is through outsourcing. Outsourcing in software development entails having a team working on a software development project remotely. Software development is not easy. Working with and managing a remote development team is even harder. While working with a remote development team saves you time and money, enabling you to concentrate on priority items, it can be a futile and expensive endeavor when not managed and executed properly. Read on to see the best tips that will help you effectively manage a remote software development team.

Communicate your project goals and expectations

Hiring the right software developers for your project is the first step in setting up a remote team. Naturally, you will go for the well-known companies though this is not a necessity. Consider looking for new entrants who are as good as the more experienced teams. You may even find these cheaper than their experienced counterparts. Just make sure that they possess the right mindset as well as attitude to enable them to work effectively while delivering your expectations. Communicate with the team your company culture, your project goals, the deliverables and the structure of the deliverables in terms of milestones and checkpoints. A meeting with the whole team will help them understand your company’s culture and your overall project vision. This will not only help them own the process but also help them feel that they are part of your vision.

Schedule team meetings

As a good practice, schedule frequent team meetings. Depending on the nature of the project and the location of the remote team, a phone call, or even better, a video call will work well. In some instances, face to face meetings will be most effective. In case your team is offshore, you may consider flying there to meet them from time to time. This will help you inspire the team, address any issues that could have come up, and assess your software development project. Depending on the nature of the project and its scope, you might even consider bringing in the whole development team to your headquarters for training or a scheduled meeting. This might be expensive, but it is vital for the long term productivity of the team, especially when the project scope is significant.

Define the way you work

Clearly share your full product vision with your team. Make them understand clearly where the project is headed and how you expect them to deliver on your project expectations. Describe all the details of your project in detail and review all requirements to make sure that everything is captured and well understood by the development team. Remember, the team you are outsourcing may be very experienced but have never worked with you. With this in mind, make the project goals as concisely as you can. This could even lower the overall pricing of the project as the team will have an excellent understanding of the project right from the beginning.

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Use appropriate tools

Outsourcing software development teams have nowadays been made very easy with the use of different tools that aid in document and file sharing, communication, project management, and remote meetings.

Collaborative tools have come in handy to help manage a remote software development team. Examples of these tools include:

  • Team communication tools such as Zoom and Slack
  • Document and File sharing tools such as Google Drive and Dropbox
  • Project management collaborative tools such as Trello and JIRA

There are also all-in-one solutions that will enable you to communicate, hold remote meetings, share documents and files, and manage project tasks.

Have short feedback loops

Giving immediate and extensive feedback is of utmost importance for a remote software development team. Since you have already structured and scheduled your project into small tasks and assigned responsibility for each of the tasks, getting immediate and short feedbacks on each of these tasks will be very easy and effective. Depending on the collaborative tool that you have elected to use, giving, and receiving feedback from the team is made easy. This then can be posted publicly on the platform for every team member to see. This will help them stay on course and remain aligned on the project priorities and goals. The feedback sessions can also act as brainstorming sessions as well as moments to update the team on any new developments.

Trust your team

Trust your team and make them feel that you trust them. Avoid micromanaging the team as this is never an effective management strategy. If you have a software development background yourself, avoid giving feedback on the actual programming. Instead, focus on the project goals, communication, and delivery structure. If you do not have a technical background, listen to the development team carefully, and weigh every decision you make before communicating it to them. It will help you get a better technical understanding of the product functionality. Remember, the project is as important to the software development team as it is to you. Reward the team when they perform exemplary well and critique them positively when you need an improvement in their work.

Working with a remote software development team has numerous advantages. Equally, it has some drawbacks. Ignoring these drawbacks leads to poorly executed projects that may increase the cost of outsourcing and lead to unintended results. The tips outlined in this article will help you work on these drawbacks by effectively managing your remote team, the communication, deliverables, definition of the project goals and help you to trust your team. These tips will help you remain close to your remote team, as though they were an internal team. You will improve your relationship with the team and effectively handle the project from start to finish.

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