As if software development wasn’t already hard enough, managing a remote team of developers isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. If you want to properly and effectively manage your remote development team, it is time to re-think your management approach in order to keep all workers accountable, productive, efficient, and satisfied. Here, we have gathered top 5 best practices for managing remote development teams to keep your team productive and successful.
1. Increase Face time
While conducting daily scrum meetings over Slack cuts the bill just fine, video infuses the human element in conversations that encourages collaboration and helps with team building. In a brick and mortar workplace, you can walk over to anybody’s desk to talk through a problem; in a virtual workspace, leaders can replicate those interactions with a scheduled video call. Not only would more face time help you get to know your remote developers better and build a meaningful relationship with them, video is a great way to gauge your staff’s emotional status and ensure that the whole team is working together as a unit.
Video conferencing via Google Hangout, Skype, Zoom or any other platform helps you establish a rapport with the team and see how they are progressing at a personal as well as professional level. Make sure that your meetings are not hyper-efficient affairs where team members don’t get to ask “silly questions” and share their borderline genius ideas. Remember that the best ideas often start out as crazy and half-baked!
However, since your remote team will be working from different locations, and possibly different time zones, try to schedule these meetings at a time convenient to all your team members.
2. Define work procedures
You can’t just gather random people from around the globe in a virtual environment, and expect them to start producing outstanding work without processes in place.
We cannot overemphasize the importance of creating clear project guidelines for accountability, team work, and productivity so that all your remote team is on the same page and know what to expect. The success of a project depends on how well you communicate what needs to be done to your remote team. The more clearly your articulate your vision for the project, the faster your team can start developing your product. Set clear tasks and delegate effectively. Make sure your team members have all the resources necessary to work on the project. Review the project requirements document assiduously to ensure that you have covered all functionality. Establish prompt correspondence with your project manager since they are your main source of information.
If like most companies, you are using the agile methodologies, you will see the benefits of developing products by iterations and getting continuous feedback during the development process. Agile keeps coding projects moving and avoids stagnation. Apply the core principles of the Agile Manifesto, such as software over documentation, interactions over tools, and responding to change over sticking to a fixed plan, to your remote team. Encourage communication, promote knowledge sharing, leverage continuous integration, and establish processes to integrate agile development methodology within your remote development team. Decide on the frequency of project meetings and the communication tools you will be using. Be sure to conduct a quick summary session after each meeting with your project manager to form new goals and go over the decisions you’ve made.
3. Reward Your Developers
Employees look to their leader for approval. Delegating effectively is one thing, but giving praise where it is due is what constitutes proper team management. Acknowledging the hard work and efforts of your team is sure to boost their performance and motivate them to keep working harder. For a start, you can kick off each meeting by thanking your employees for the job done so far and specifically mentioning team mates who outdid themselves. Constructive praise assures your team that they are moving in the direct direction. At the end of each development project, you can even send small tokens of appreciation to your remote team or even reward them with cash bonuses or other incentives to let them know their work is acknowledged. While this generosity isn’t necessary, it leaves a lasting impression on your team and lifts their spirits.
4. Utilize Tracking
When you are working with a remote team, it can be hard to track the progress of a project, find out who is working on what, understand what is going on with development, and how long each person has been working on a task. Leaders need to track all metrics of productivity in order to quantify the team’s progress, understand the competence of each employee, and compose accurate performance reviews. Real time project tracking gives you a lot to talk about in monthly face-to-face meetings. Make use of a quality project management software to keep tabs on project progress. When the entire team can see what projects are being worked on, who is working on what, along with key timelines and deliverables, employees are more likely to be responsive, follow through on commitments and take responsibility for results.
If you are worried that your remote developers may be entertaining personal chores during working hours or wasting time on social media sites, have each developer install a time-tracker on their computer and report the tasks and time spent daily. Software like the “Taskque” helps you track employee internet usage and make sure they are only visiting relevant websites and online applications while on the clock. There are many dedicated tools for time-tracking development teams, such as Jira and Asana that monitor the internet activity of remote workers and make sure an employee is actually “working” from home!
5. Think About Pair Programming
If you are leading a remote development team, why not experiment with pair programming because it’s a common practice in software house specially among game development company. This practice allows two developers to work simultaneously, often on the same tasks. While in a brick and mortar workplace, pairs of developers often put their heads together to work on complex tasks, usually from the same computer, this can be replicated with the help of screen sharing software, such as TeamViewer. This problem solving methodology helps distributed teams improve the quality of their code, encourages information and knowledge sharing, strengthens team bonds, and speeds up the entire development process. If your remote employees are located in multiple time zones, why not pair programmers within similar work schedules.