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How to Build a Successful Distributed Software Development Team

#Dedicated teams

Modern technologies allow companies to use tech talents globally and build a successful distributed development team. Hiring a remote developer eliminates several challenges that you would normally face. For example, you don’t need to look for a tech talent based on the location, willingness to relocate and you are more flexible with the salary.

To make your distributed software development team feel comfortable and switch into the process efficiently, you should be aware of the main challenges they face, and how to solve them.

Hire the right talent for distributed work

You shall know how to select and hire the right people for your distributed software development team.

Requirements to the right candidate

  • Strong communication skills are a must if a person is going to work in a team.
  • Proper organization skills are needed. A proper candidate shall be able to organize his/her work in an efficient way.
  • Self-motivation and self-discipline are needed to handle the tasks on time. Remote workers usually work from home or cafes and can be distracted. 

Where to find the right candidate?

The best platforms to look for the right candidates are the following:

  • Hired, a platform where you create a profile, and the companies provide you with their offers.
  • Angellist, a place to post your job offer and to select the best freelancers;
  • Codementor.io helps you to find freelancers for all project types;
  • HackerEarth to select developers based on their tech assessment results;
  • Youteam is a platform to hire the best software developers or remote teams.

It is possible to find a team on both the outsourcing and outstaffing basis. Outsourcing is when you empower the vendor company to assemble and manage the team for you. In the case of outstaffing, you manage your distributed software development team. You can find such companies on Clutch and Goodfirms.  

Remote software developer as a part of distributed development team

Set up effective communication

Communication is a major pain for distributed companies, especially when part of the team is in the US, another in Easter Europe and another in Indonesia.

Nowadays, you can use special tools to improve the communication within your team such as:

  • Group chats and calls;
  • Files sharing;
  • Video recording and archiving.

The most popular among them are:

  • Zoom: the tool is easy-to-install and setup. It can be used for meetings, video webinars. Its file-sharing function allows your team members to work efficiently, and its cross-platform messaging function allows using the tool across different platforms.
  • Slack can replace an ordinary mail with a smart solution. Arrange your conversations in dedicated spaces, select which of them shall be replied asap and which are less urgent, share channels with other team members. 

To make these tools work efficiently, you should specify clearly which communications means shall be used among the team members and during which hours the team members should be available.

Create clear roadmap and roles

Create a clear roadmap for your project. Define both long- and short-time goals and specify milestones and deadlines clearly. Make sure each team member understands clearly where the company is heading and what is his/her role in it.

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Assign roles to each team member. Make sure they understand what you and other team members expect from them. Define their responsibilities. If a specialist needs to work on a new task, make sure he/she understands clearly what is requested and how to do the task. 

Set up the management process

When you are managing a distributed software development team, there are many things to control. That’s why some details are always out of your attention. You can use special tools that allow you to plan the activities and to control the performance of each team member.

You can use the following PM tools.

Backlog

This is one of the most intuitive project management tools that cover all the needs of a developer. This is the best option for app and website developers. It can be used within smaller distributed software development teams that consist of around 10 persons.

Wrike

This cloud-based software can be used for project planning, collaboration, and reporting. It can be integrated with third-parties’ services, such as Dropbox. For teams consisting of up to five members, the tool is free.

Monday

This is one of the most popular tools used to manage and control the work on the product on all its stages. This is one of the few project management tools that offer packages based on functionality and not on the users’ cap.

Jira

Jira is a perfect tool for any size team. You can purchase a package based on the functionality your team needs. Kanban and Scrum methods are available, too.

Focus on important metrics. Instead of checking how much each developer works, concentrate on the results and the behaviour. The main thing is to make each member of your team deliver tasks on time and compliant with the requirements. We at Relevant Software prefer this tool to manage software development projects. 

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Don’t be afraid to distribute leadership too

Normally, the centre of the company is considered to be where the leadership is. For example, if a VP of a development team is located in Germany, and the team members are mostly from Ukraine, they might feel like being on the outskirts of the company and, hence, of the project.

That’s why it is recommended to distribute the leadership. It is more efficient when the leaders are located in the same country as their team. For example, if the development team members are located in Europe, it is recommended to find a VP of engineering located there, too. 

Bytheway, we can provide our customers with VP of engineering, CTO, or a lead developer, as well as a whole team located in one office.

Support culture and personal connections

Distributed employees usually do not feel such strong connections with the company like it is the case with in-house employees that’s why baking the company culture in everything is crucial.

Many people still believe that the company’s culture is only in the mission and the main values of the company. However, this is not completely correct. The culture is also how the employees communicate, how they collaborate, how they get tasks done and how they report on their performance.

Do not forget about such a crucial thing as creating safety. If you create a safe place for your employees to work in, they can afford themselves being open when they have difficulties with the task. It enables you to provide the needed assistance and to get the project done on time.

To maintain the culture, do not forget about the following:

  • Make sure you hire remote employees who are compliant with the company’s mission and main values;
  • Ensure your remote employees know the core values of the company;
  • Insist on keeping the company’s culture in all the activities connected with the company: meetings both online and offline, collaboration, task delivery and reporting on them, and so on.
  • Team building activities, such as dinners, outdoor activities, offline meetups help to establish connections.

Establishing and keeping personal connections is a great way to create and maintain the company’s culture. The most successful companies allocate budget for offline events: dinners, some outdoor activities, and meetings. Such events offer great opportunities to establish personal connections between the team members. It, in turn, allows them feeling themselves more like a team.

Summary of building a distributed development team

There are many things to consider when switching to distributed software development. Such a team offers many advantages, the most important of which are an opportunity to quickly fill the tech talent gap and cost-efficiency. 

However, there are some cons as well. They are mostly connected with the remote character of the team and are connected with the establishing of communication and personal connections among the team members and making each member feel involved in each project stage.

Since 2013, our company provides staff augmentation services to companies from all over the world. We have developed our own strategies and ways to manage distributed teams to keep all the members motivated and engaged. That’s why we are confident that our teams will perform optimally and provide the expected results for our clients. Contact us to build a successful distributed software development team.

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