Tips On Managing An Offshore Development Team
Remote management of a development team may be quite complex, especially if you never worked with a remote team before. While it's easier to just assign tasks and expect good results, it's much more effective to take a thoughtful approach and establish a great relationship with the team. For company owners, it is important to develop a strategy that will help transform several remote developers into a cohesive and robust team. We've rounded up the top 5 management tips to help you build strong relationships with your remote team and achieve great results together.
Maintaining a positive attitude: 5 tips for successful management and retainment of your team
The fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the labor market is no longer in doubt. The appetite for remote employees remains high among employers, who offer an option of remote work to increase employee retention, increase productivity and reduce infrastructure costs. However, the remote model of work brings challenges as well. Juggling time zones, lack of physical communication and distractions at home are just some of the struggles that both employees and employers face. Therefore, companies need to be flexible and adaptive in managing their remote teams so nobody feels left out. Below are our recommended tips for building a great and trustworthy relationship with your remote developers.
Regular meetings and communication on the schedule
If meetings are not managed properly, they can harm your project and cause missed deadlines or major miscommunications. Strict adherence to the schedule of meetings will help you organize your team's workflow in a way that everyone stays on track. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of meetings:
- Prioritize meetings: it’s not obligatory to schedule meetings for every subject that you need to discuss. Sometimes, an email, a phone call, or a Slack message may be more efficient and quicker. Hence, prioritize your meetings and schedule only important ones.
- Prepare for meetings: if a meeting is not properly planned, it can quickly turn into a mess. Therefore, before the meeting, plan the time and list down the main points to discuss. Also, it’s a good idea to send everyone meeting notes before the meeting.
- Understand different meeting cycles: daily standups, sprint planning, and team retrospectives all have different purposes and duration and should be planned correspondingly.
In general, meetings should be short, relevant, and regular. A meeting is a great way not only to inform colleagues about project status and/or updates but also to ask questions and share different points of view so you need to encourage and promote that.
Set clear expectations and requirements and ensure everyone understands them
A clear definition of the scope of work and of expected deliverables is an important aspect that impacts the success of your project. Thus, it is important to set clear project timelines and realistic expectations for team members from the beginning. Lack of clear expectations is the source of many disagreements and is a frequent cause of project failure. What can you do to set crystal clear expectations for your team?
- Set realistic expectations and requirements for project timelines;
- Use a project management system to fine-tune the development cycle;
- Make sure each team member understands the requirements and their tasks.
Engage your team members
Remote developers often feel isolated because they do not physically interact and communicate with their colleagues. To increase the engagement of your team, think of various activities like team buildings to lift the team’s spirit up. Here are some more ideas:
Co-op gaming: gaming can become a great break from the routine and unify employees in your company. Examples of co-op games are Among Us, GeoGuessr or Codenames - you choose the one that sounds most fun to you and your team.
Virtual Developer summits: such events include educational talks, workshops, and brainstorming sessions where developers can share their knowledge and get to know each other better.
Online events: corporate training sessions and webinars on various topics via Zoom, Skype, or Google Teams are also a great way to help people get to know each other.
Such activities help maintain corporate culture and contribute to employee satisfaction greatly. A strong sense of team spirit can help your remote team pool their talents and strengths to better solve their goals.
Consider different time zones and plan work correspondingly
One of the keys to project success is understanding the differences in time zones in case you work with a team from a different country. Working together in different time zones can be a challenge because of the lack of constant communication. In contrast to office work, developers working remotely often have their preferred hours of operation. Here are some tips to help developers work more productively across different time zones:
- Define each employee's time zone and preferred work hours;
- Use various time zone management tools and apps, such as Google Calendar, Team TimeZone, and Harvest;
- Create common rules for communication and collaboration;
- Keep asynchronous communication in order.
Working in different time zones requires that each member of a team know and respect different hours of operation. This may seem obvious, but it's really important. With open communication and smart use of remote tools, you can achieve productive, efficient, collaborative, and flexible teamwork.
Encourage career development among your remote employees
Your remote team members should know that the company is interested in helping them plan their career growth. Therefore, the main goal for managers is to provide career development opportunities for remote developers.
Managers who manage remote teams should notice what excites and motivates each team member, and if they excel, offer them a promotion or a piece of advice on how to achieve a career goal. Career advancement opportunities motivate developers to work harder and add value to the company. Other career development opportunities that you may want to consider are:
- Sending developers to relevant conferences;
- Providing professional development opportunities within the company;
- Offering team members to attend online learning platforms;
- Implementing an assessment structure (like the Shield platform) where remote employees can understand what growth opportunities are available.
Use the right tools to improve work efficiency
When you manage a team of remote developers, it is important to use various tools that help structure the work of each team member. From communication tools to project management tools, they all help your team stay on the same page. To help you choose, we've selected a few of the most useful ones that are highly recommended for implementation in your organization:
- Project and task management: Jira, Trello, Todoist and Harvest;
- Employee monitoring software: CloudDesk, Workpuls, Hubstaff;
- Document storage: Jira, Google Drive;
- Online meetings: Zoom, Slack, Skype.
While there are many excellent free or low-cost tools available, you should give preference to those applications that have the features and functionality most important to the team and your project.
The secret to managing a remote team of software developers is simple: make your company’s culture inclusive and diverse and treat remote developers in the same manner as your in-house employees. Many excellent development teams are scattered all over the world, and the quality of work is never determined by geographic location. The overall success of your project and speed of development depends on how you plan and manage remote teams.
Featured photo credit: Dylan Gillis / Unsplash