Tools, Tricks, and Tips for Managing Your Remote Software Development Team
As digital transformation continues to accelerate, the need for software becomes more acute. A McKinsey report estimates that digital-first companies have a 20% market share vs 5% for their traditional competitors. From a remote team management standpoint, this creates many challenges. How do you drive innovation and increase collaboration? How do you ensure everyone is aligned on the same page? How do you have consistent quality assurance and no slips through the cracks? Software development has become commoditized in recent years, with open-source software libraries making it easier than ever for small businesses or individuals to build software applications. The barrier to entry is lower than ever before. As a result, competition has increased significantly. However, this also makes it easier for companies to outsource their development needs rather than invest in expensive in-house staff. Remote team management becomes an essential part of any organization that operates at scale. Read on to find out how remote team management can help your organization succeed and thrive with your software development needs…
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Communication should be the number one priority when managing a remote team. Effective asynchronous communication is one of the biggest challenges of managing a remote team – especially when some teams are located in different time zones. In general, communication best practices include: – Using the right communication channel – e.g. one-on-one emails, chat rooms, video calls, etc. – Being explicit with expectations – what’s your team’s goal, what are their deliverables, etc. – Using tools that help promote transparency – like team dashboards, project management software, etc. – Promoting a culture of feedback – how do you receive and give feedback? – Make sure communication is two-way – make it a two-way street where you are open to receiving feedback from team members and vice versa. – Avoiding open-ended questions – e.g. “What do you think?”
Build a strong onboarding process
Just like you would with a new in-house hire, build a strong onboarding process for your remote team. This process should include a mix of online and offline activities. E.g. Have your team members complete a project to demonstrate competency with your company’s specific tools and deliverables. Or have them complete a personality quiz to assess their work style and preferences. Additionally, have them attend virtual team-building exercises. This will help them understand your company’s culture and reinforce their connection to your organization.
Define Clear Objectives
Clearly define both individual and team objectives. This will help drive alignment across the team and the onboarding process. It will also help you create an effective evaluation metric. E.g. If you want to reduce the amount of time it takes to build a feature, you could set a goal like “We want to build the feature 10% faster.” Or if you want to drive a certain level of quality, you could set a goal like “We want to reduce the number of bugs by 10%.” These goals can then be used to measure each team member’s performance and contribute to their performance evaluation.
Establish a culture of transparency
As you are building a culture of transparency, you’ll also want to establish a regular rhythm of communication with your team members. This means setting up regular stand-up meetings (i.e. 15-minute meetings) with your team members to discuss the following: – What are the team members currently working on? – What did they accomplish over the last week? – What do they plan to work on next? – Any questions, problems, or roadblocks they are facing – What is the status of open items from last week? – Any other items that need to be discussed This will help you keep on top of the team’s progress and status, while also creating an open-door policy. This will make it easier to spot potential issues when they arise and provide support where needed.
Regular syncs with your remote team
To help promote collaboration and communication, set up regular recurring interactive team meetings. These meetings give you an opportunity to discuss and collaborate on current projects, as well as brainstorm future ideas. E.g. You can hold meetings on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis. Or you can host virtual hackathons where the team members work together towards a common goal. These meetings are also a great opportunity to give status updates on projects, celebrate wins, and allow team members to air any concerns or questions they may have.
Variety is the spice of life
Last but not least, make sure to mix up your remote team management strategy from time to time. You don’t want your team members to feel too comfortable or complacent with their current working environment. E.g. Rotate the order in which your team members host meetings. Or experiment with different software or team management tools. You could even try hosting occasional team meetings in person. This will help break up the monotony and keep everyone engaged and excited.
It’s important to remember that managing a remote team is not easy. It requires strong leadership skills, the ability to manage difficult personalities, and the capacity to adapt and evolve as your team grows and changes. That said, remote team management is a great way to scale your software development capacity while keeping costs low. And it will give you access to a wider talent pool than you might otherwise have access to. And with the right tools and strategies in place, it will become much easier. From setting clear objectives with your team members to establishing a culture of transparency and promoting a healthy mix of variety and consistency in your remote team management strategy.