How to work with remote developers. Part I.

Top team management strategies and apps in 2020

Working with remote development teams.

How to work with remote developers? This question arises more and more often these days, and it isn’t a coincidence. Experts claim that the future of work lies in remote working, especially true for the software development and programming field. The sector began to actively go online a long time ago and now, during this challenging period, it is far ahead of other industries. It is also actively helping others to keep up with the times, potentially even saving businesses in these pandemic times.

Many people still believe that a personal presence in the office and face-to-face teamwork are irreplaceable. We will not challenge the fact that they are very important. Yet modern realities, including Covid, mean it’s essential to make every effort to transition to online as quickly and efficiently as possible. We can help you with that. Here’s some insight into remote working, from our highly experienced remote working experts.

Is it worth working with remote developers?

The workforce globalization trend is here to stay. It gives the companies a unique opportunity to mobilize the unified skills of developers worldwide to create the best product or service while saving money and time. A significant number of companies who chose to work with remote developers, like EXPN, Stripe, and others, have increased their income thanks to their cooperation with top professionals, regardless of their physical location. There are challenges, of course, but we can demonstrate it is worth the effort – the pros outweigh the cons.

how to work with remote developers

The challenges of working with remote developers

Like any other industry, IT is experiencing challenges working with remote developers, both of a general nature and specific to the IT business. The human factor creates more personalized relations between team members and cements a team. Managers are often uncertain about how to control remote workers. It’s still quite hard for many of them to trust online efficiency measurement tools that assess people’s contribution to the common cause. However, modern technology like GitHub allows you to consider every letter of the code written by every team member, along with its ongoing impact.

Here are some of the questions troubling team managers when it comes to working with remote teams:

– How to track productivity fairly and accurately

– How to support the company culture among distant workers

– How to manage efficient communication within the team and between different groups

– How to be sure newly-hired employees are reliable, and will fit the team

– How to make sure employees manage their work-life balance correctly to avoid burnout

Despite all this, remote teams are gaining more and more popularity, thanks to the many excellent team management online apps and tools available.

Why working with remote development teams is growing more popular.

Working with remote development teams has many benefits besides the obvious time and money-saving effects, and the physical restrictions dictated by the pandemic.

Working in small teams is more efficient

Studies show that small teams are performing much better than large ones as regards efficiency. It all boils down to the fact that it’s much easier to communicate, and thus get things done, within a small team. It seems reasonable to keep a small in-house team, but delegating the development and programming tasks to remote teams which, in their turn, are also small, divided by specialization and managed by a reliable team leader.

You can choose from the best minds… anywhere on earth!

When searching for talented people to expand your staff, you’re no longer limited by geographical factors. A wide selection of great IT minds from all over the world is at your disposal on favorable terms. Working with remote development teams doesn’t even mean the whole team has to be located in one place. Its members can live worldwide and collaborate efficiently using modern means of communication, supported by great team management.

All the necessary knowledge is accessible online

The software development process is inextricably linked to the online world. Its participants find the knowledge, share it, contribute to the development process and communicate – and all this is done online, even when the team is working in the same office. Widely used tools like Redmine, Slack and GitHub serve as the best proof.

Many countries are suffering from a tech brain drain

Most probably, your country is suffering from a tech brain drain as talent moves to where the best jobs are. IT talent often enjoys high-quality training in a country with high standards and low taxes in education. They gain their primary experience there, develop in-demand skills, and then leave for employment elsewhere to get better pay. For example, Canada is losing around 7% of the population each year. These people go to the US, mostly to the Bay Area, seeking bigger salaries. In this situation, employers have no other choice than rely on foreign talent, people who are well-trained, happy with higher wages than they’d get in their home country. They can either:

1. Increase skilled immigration. Though efficient, this is a complex, time- and money-consuming process that few companies can afford.

2. Work with remote developers. With the current level of online communication and collaboration, this method is accessible to everyone.

New advanced technologies appear

The culture of openness is growing. People are getting used to sharing their knowledge and inventions with the world. This contributes to better remote team management and software development technologies, re-orientating the programming sector from one of physical presence in the office to one where working online is the norm. That’s why more and more businesses prefer working with remote developers rather than struggling to hire the right people in-house.

How to manage remote engineers

Want to know how to manage remote engineers? We’ve got a lot to say on this matter thanks to vast amounts of relevant experience. Optimum Web consists of several development teams located in different countries, and we’ve been working like this for the last 15 years. When the pandemic hit we carried on as normal. We’re used to working remotely, so it wasn’t a problem.

Best strategies for managing distributed teams of developers

how to manage remote engineers

Though offering many possibilities, including fast team expansion through cooperation with a foreign software development provider, remote teams also bring particular risks to the table.

Here’s how you can avoid the pitfalls:

Pay the most attention to clear communication

Meetings are vital. Choose the best time for them, using the  golden hours, and try to stick to your communication plan while keeping sessions short and to the point. Require everyone’s presence and full engagement, even if everything is going perfectly well and no one has questions or difficulties to discuss.

Work with the tools your team prefers

Given the wide selection of teamwork tools, choose those that your team members like the most. This will contribute to a healthy working culture and team engagement. One exemplary stack that remote development teams often use to cover all the team’s needs is Slack. Zoom is perfect for team communication, and Trello for project management. GitHub is brilliant for  software development, and Google Drive is ideal for collaboration on documents.

Focus on procedures and the process

When working with remote developers, you might need tools for keeping the teams together in conditions where conventional facilities are not available. While you don’t have access to shared working hours, conference rooms, lunch zones, and rest zones that contribute to knowledge exchange, you can focus on responsibility and shared values. These can form the basis of your work culture, time management practices. Clear procedures can also help.

Work on the competence hierarchy

Make sure every team member covers a specific area of expertise and masters relevant skills. Don’t avoid asking them questions regarding the software they’re working on; listen to them, and trust them. While they won’t always be right, the knowledge they possess will lead them to the right decision.

Maintain a high level of engagement

The more each team member is engaged during the whole project, the more significant the contribution they bring to it. An atmosphere of mutual assistance, openness, and willingness to share knowledge has a major positive impact, as do all the internal jokes and team rituals that develop, impacting your employees’ happiness and making them feel appreciated.

Always provide feedback

Transparency, open discussion and fast feedback are always highly appreciated, helping to build trust and get the best results. If your work with remote developers is arranged in sprints, keep in mind that the quicker and the more extensive the feedback, the better the results will be.

Pick a full-stack dedicated team

Hiring a dedicated team and mastering the full stack of software development skills is a great way to speed up any project. When experts work together for a long time, you can count on fast, top quality work, efficient intra-team communication, valuable advice, and relevant feedback. All of this makes remote cooperation much more straightforward.

The most effective remote developer team management tools

most effective remote developer team management tools

1. Agile Manager

Agile Manager from HP is dedicated to organizing and guiding teams from the start, setting the stage for the sprints and deployment within the agile model. The tool accompanies the team throughout the entire cycle and helps to complete it, pushing stories and tasks directly to tools like Jenkins, Eclipse, or Git. This way, developers can keep track directly from their favorite IDE.

2. JIRA Agile

Jira Agile allows teams to track a previously-created list of project tasks on an interactive Kanban board, updated by developers during the working process. This tool interacts with other important tools from Atlassian, for example, allowing the dashboard to update the moment the code is committed to Bitbucket.

3. Active Collab

Active Collab is designed to help developers deliver code and account for their time, using an arsenal of features like a system-wide calendar and a collaborative writing tool to work on documentation.

4. Pivotal Tracker

Pivotal Tracker from Pivotal Labs is focused on listing tasks expressed as stories, providing team members with the opportunity to award points for complexity, and tracking the number of tasks that are finished every day.

5. VersionOne

VersionOne is a tool designed to organize multiple development teams working on various tasks across the company, offering a reliable communication platform with an option for everyone to plan initiatives and create reliable documentation.

6. GitHub

Last but not least, GitHub is designed to host your code in multiple programming languages. It helps developers keep track of all the revisions of their code, making it possible to monitor the number of commits every team member makes and also monitor code quality.

Optimum Web experience in managing remote teams – Can we help you?

Our company originally consists of several development teams located in different parts of the world. We have around 15 years’ experience in successful remote team management. The current situation with covid is easier for us to handle because we have always worked remotely.

Strategically, we harness a wide variety of remote team-building activities besides the techniques described below. These let us maintain a high level of collaboration and team management, thus getting perfect results and providing high-quality services to our clients.

About the Author: Vasili Pascal

Dev Team Lead @ TryDirect && Software Engineer @ Optimum Web

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