Use This 10-Step Guide to Manage Remote Dev Team
Working with an outsource software dev team takes some real trust. They may be out of sight, but that does not mean that no work is getting done or that you will lose control of the process. Fortunately, there are a host of mechanisms and tools that you can use to track the development process without resorting to freak-control and micro-management tactics.
The important thing is to trust the team you hire. Otherwise, you worry, and that wastes brainpower. A great service provider is one that will focus on getting to know your business better prior to signing the deal. Establishing efficient communication channels and ensuring that you “are on the same page” is important in the creation of a dream-team. The following 10-steps help you manage those remote developers:
1. Adopt Known Project Management Methodologies
Your in-house team and your remote team must remain in constant communication without overdoing it. One way is to adopt scrum agile management processes . Such project management methodologies help foster honesty and accountability while boosting the flexibility and productivity of both teams. A shared dashboard like Jira , in conjunction with other plugins, can help your tech project managers monitor the progress.
2. Foster Accountability
Business owners worry, too, about ensuring that remote dev teams are actually working and not billing for work that’s not done.They worry, for example, about losing control to an offshore dev. The solution is easy when you schedule update days. You can create a dedicated chat in any tool you are comfortable using for communications. For example, Slack lets everyone post what they have been working on during the day and what they have planned for the next.
3. Encourage a Unified Development Philosophy
According to an agile promoter at Atlassian, the key components that encourage a development culture include:
- Communicate all decisions made to your team (in-house and outsourced): Critical decisions are often times made in an informal tone or setting. This can result in lots of wasted time before every office and team member involved knows of the updates and stops working on outdated information. Instead of sending out decisions through email or chat, you do better if you add it to a corporate wiki or guide for faster access to everyone involved. You can also ask team members to set up email notifications for important pages or groups.
- Minimize environment friction during set up: Creating a simple getting started guide will do wonders in terms of increasing productivity. Instead of scheduling for one-on-one sessions (these can be done later for confirmation and feedback), you need to automate your setup whenever possible.
- Clearly define a “complete” objective: A concrete definition of a “complete” task will eliminate vague work. It is in the interest of everyone involved to craft and distribute a list of project objectives. Such objectives clarify when your project is done. For example, you want to clarify when code is designed, created, tested, and reviewed.
- Publish guidelines for filing bug reports: Not everyone in your outsource dev team might be available in case an issue comes up, but that cannot stand in the way of progress. You will want to ensure in advance that all team members can file an all-inclusive bug report. And, shared troubleshooting guides make it easy for everyone to track, fix and validate issues.
4. Automate What Can be Automated
Some outsourcing teams seem look small, but they still manage to complete large enterprise projects just as efficiently as the larger teams. Their secret lies in intelligent automation. This allows team members to put their time and effort into high-impact work, instead of trying to figure out the mundane, routing processes.
For example, automating testing will help reduce human errors in codes. Instead of keeping people on performing repetitive tasks for billing, a smart service provider will automate as many processes as possible.
5. Establish Strong Communication Channels
Due to the differences in time zones, lack of one-on-one interaction as well as small talks, many instructions can be lost without established communication channels. To prevent this from happening to your project, follow these two rules:
- Set time for daily meetings by beginning the work day with a short meeting where everything is clarified and questions answered. These tailgate meetings help you keep an eye on the progress so far. Daily meetings bring together your on-site developers and remote team and forge common interests.
- Manage time difference by defining hours when everyone should be available for communication. A tool like World Clock Meeting Planner will locate inter-crossing time zones when you can reliably schedule a meeting at a time that is convenient to everyone of your team members.
Some of the most common you can use for communication are:
- Email: While project management systems help you save in terms of inbox space, email is still an irreplaceable tool.
- Chat: Chat messengers like Slack or Skype are great for instant messaging and creating that team environment, but users can still take up a lot of time just chatting.
- Diagrams: Tools that share the remote computer’s screen are very useful. Remote controlling another computer saves time when explaining. Tools like Skype’s screen sharing, join.me, and TeamViewer fall in this category.
6. Use Video Conferencing to Bolster Efficiency and Morale
Chats, emails and other team management tools are of a great help, but occasional face-to-face meetings are well worth the effort and time. A video at the start of a project will personalize the tasks and ensure that everyone is on the same page. Mid-project video conferences help keep team spirits up, reassure everyone is on track, and thank them when all is done.
Creating and nurturing personal connections adds trust, minimizing missed expectations and increasing self-organization.
7. Take Advantage of Time Zone Differences
While many think that the time zone difference is a drag on performance, but this is not the case. In fact, your business will achieve efficiency round the clock when you assign developers from different parts of the world to specific aspects of your project.
A remote dev team ahead of your time zone offers you the perfect opportunity to review the progress the same day and assign the next tasks. On the other hand, if you are ahead, you have time to mull over and prepare everything for the software development team in advance.
8. Schedule an Independent Technical Review
Independent technical reviews are critical during software outsourcing. It is the best way to get objective information about your software from the outsourcing provider. Even as you get extensive documentation, guarantees, reports and promises from your service provider, asking someone to review the product gives you a feel for how the product will do once released to the public. Such reviews do not offend the developers. Instead, the convey the reviewer’s concerns to them. As professionals, the developers will understand and respect the objectives of your business.
9. Hire an Independent CTO, If You Can
Individual proprietors and small businesses lack the time and expertise to develop software on their own. They are smart to hire an independent chief technical officer (CTO) to report and control how the outsourcing is working.
Too often, business owners and entrepreneurs try to control how the software developers work directly by becoming software savvy, learning the jargon, Java syntax and even the principles of DevOps. This is one route to failure. Instead, they could focus on business development, and manage the CTO rather than the outsourced team.
10. Use Task-Tracking Tools
These tools are great for managing the development process of your remote team:
· Trello : This convenient and easy to use system offers boards where you can organize tasks in a matter of minutes with minimal input. It is visually attractive, intuitive, and free.
· Redmine : It is well-balanced tool with plenty of plugins to tweak as you like. But, you have to install Ruby on Rails to set up this tool. If this is not a turn off, it is a good place to start.
· Atlassian Jira: It belongs to the classics in terms of project management and bug tracking systems. It is sustainable and stable, but you have to do some customization to adapt it to your specific needs. It is best for companies that already have established processes.
· Youtrack : This tool presents a respectable alternative to the classics like Redmine and Jira. YouTrack was created by software developers and is easy to integrate with GitLab or Bitbucket. It offers you several types of reports, and you do not need to use a mouse with it. Everything has hotkeys.
“Remote” should no longer be viewed as a scary word. With the economy going freelance and global, if you are not ready to adjust to the realities today, you will be too late tomorrow. If you follow this 10-step guide to managing your remote workforce, managing the team will no longer be an intimidating challenge. Instead, you will foster accountability, build effective communication channels, and implement the right tools to increase the efficiency of both your in-house and outsourced dev teams.
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