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Managing Remote Nearshore Software Development Teams (2019)

Managing Remote Nearshore Software Development Teams (2019)


When talking about working with remote software
development teams productivity is one of the main concerns for those companies in the United States considering
it as an option. Is it possible for distributed teams across
countries to deliver the same results as a fully co-located team? As a nearshore development boutique from South
America that works exclusively for U.S. clients we’d
like to share our perspective on the matter and provide some insight into how to effectively
manage remote collaboration. So to start off, let’s address some of the
most popular myths surrounding remote collaboration. Myth number one is: Local means better. The true measure of a great developer does
not lie in their geographical location, but rather in their commitment to quality
and their ability to stay up to date on the latest technologies. It is also worth keeping in mind that hiring
within your area, city or country does not guarantee that you will get the most
talented developers. As a result of talent shortage within the
software development industry, local developers in the United States are
in very high demand, so their rates might not always correspond
to their skill level. Myth number two is: Skilled remote developers
are hard to find. It is true that the massive size of the market for remote software development teams can
be overwhelming. But as a general rule, smaller-sized boutique
firms that provide staff augmentation services are
the best way to go, as they tend to focus on quality and specialize
in a specific set of technologies. There are also great developers who may not
be experts in a singular technology but have the ability to learn and excel at
their craft. These full-stack developers are generally
very experienced in a wide range of technologies and have a very short learning curve at the
time of learning a new ones. Myth number three says the culture, language
and time zone differences can hinder productivity. This is a valid concern, but in our opinion,
it mostly applies to the traditional offshore market overseas. The nearshore outsourcing market in Latin
America significantly reduces all of these risks, as developers in these countries share both
the time zones and the cultural values of the United States, and most of them are also English fluent,
so integrating them to your teams shouldn’t be an issue. It mostly comes down to finding the vendors
with the best talent and processes. And finally, we have myth number four which
says that remote collaboration slows down delivery. The time spent by teams communicating remotely
as opposed to in-person can seem like a disadvantage. However, by focusing on having clear communication
and documentation processes in place, there is no reason why your development cycles
should suffer at all. Regular check-ins and ongoing communication
through Slack and other tools help distributed teams track productivity
effectively. The proper use of these communication tools
allows teams to minimize idle times and this way remote collaboration processes
do no longer result in time loss or missed deadlines. By holding daily meetings, sharing constant
updates on any progress and completed work, and making that work visible, you allow the
client to always be in the loop about everything that’s happening within their
project as if they were sitting by your side. So now that we’ve covered the main concerns
associated with remote work, let us share some of the most valuable lessons
and principles that we have learned at VAIRIX by working
with teams from the US. Ideally, you will want to have developers
who have proven experience in distributed team settings to ensure that they can deliver results and
avoid any learning curves in areas like communication processes. A key indicator of a great developer is their
ability to self manage without needing ongoing supervision, which allows the rest of the team to focus
on their core tasks. Treating remote work the same way you would
treat in-house work is crucial for effective collaboration, whether we’re talking about remote work from
home or within a remote co-located team. At VAIRIX we focus heavily on replicating
our partners’ every day work environment and we go about this in a few different ways. So not only is all our staff trained and experienced
in the best practices for remote collaboration with clients, but we also understand that a lot of knowledge
is shared while being face to face with ones teammates, which is why we put a lot of focus on internal
communication and team support. And this is one of the advantages of partnering
with a boutique firm, as opposed to an individual contractor or
freelancer. Our developers are always there to support
each other whenever needed, which helps advance their skill learning process
and their overall performance. We have a clear internal communication process,
and an example of this is that we use Slack not only as a tool to communicate with our
peers in the United States but also between ourselves. Using our own internal communication channels
helps us better assimilate the necessary habits and processes that we
then use with our partners abroad. We also share a “Rules of engagement” playbook
with our team so that they know what is expected in terms
of responsive communication with clients. Both you and your remote contractor will benefit
from having an early on agreement about what communication and project management
tools you will be using throughout your collaboration. For any casual communication, Slack proves
to be the best choice. This is where you can have an internal chat
between all team members and communicate daily throughout the course
of the project. And for project management, Trello is a great
choice where you can work in an Agile environment
using sprints. Here the client can create their own stories
and prioritize them, and it also allows you to track the time your
team spends on each task so that you can measure productivity and be
transparent with your clients about the work being done It is also important to define meetings for
the different roles involved in the project. And examples of these can be daily meetings
with the development team, planning meetings with everyone involved in
the project to define work for the following weeks, and review meetings where progress is reported. Agreeing early on on this will help ensure
that every member attends the meetings they should be involved
in, and for everybody to be aligned under the same methodology. By setting up clear processes and choosing
the right tools to carry them out you will guarantee that the team is aligned
with the goals of the project and the client, that the client can see and measure the progress
of the work being done, and that there is a record of all the work
in tools like Trello to avoid future miscommunication issues. Successful teamwork goes down to effective
communication, and this applies to co-located and distributed
teams alike. But in distributed team settings, remote developers
should go out of their way to show that they are contributing to the
team by communicating on a regular and consistent manner The best way to earn your teammates’ trust
and respect is through what we call over communicating. So let’s look at a couple of examples of what
this can look like in practice. As a remote developer you should try to replicate
the routine of a physical office by letting your team know your status at all
times. A great way to do this is by using Slack as
a virtual office and greeting your team first thing when you
arrive to work every day, when you break off for lunch and when you
come back from those breaks and when you finish your work day. This way, everyone can know when you will
be available if they depend on your help, especially in settings where there isn’t much
overlap between the distributed teams. Be responsive and transparent by acknowledging
every message that you receive from your teammates, and providing an answer as soon as possible. When a person is working remotely and they
get asked the question that they don’t have an immediate answer to, the first thing that they should do is let their counterpart know and ask for
the necessary time to solve the issue. A common bad practice is working on getting
the answer first and only then letting the other person know
via Slack. The problem with this approach is that the
whole process may have taken from fifteen to thirty minutes without the
other person getting any answer at all. This is why using Slack as a virtual office
is so important. Whenever we get asked a question or we get
asked for help and we don’t have an instant answer to provide
we will tell our partner: “Let me do some research and I will get back
to you on that” and only then start doing the research. This makes a big difference because our partner
knows that their message has been read and that we are effectively working on solving
their problem. Being reliable and predictable involves letting
your team and your clients know what they can expect from your work. They need to know that you understand what you’re working on and how you’re going to execute it. So focus on doing a good job with your project
management tool, so that the status of the project can be assessed
by both sides at any time. Properly reflecting the status of tasks and
adding relevant comments to them also helps everyone know what you are working
on. A key aspect here is that the client should
always be able to understand what we’re working on. For example, if you have a call or a meeting
with a client and some work gets defined as a priority, you should leave a record of what the decision
involves on the appropriate story within your project management tool. This helps avoid any “He said, she said” kind
of situations and also helps improve the dynamic of the
meetings themselves, where sometimes things get discussed but are
later forgotten on not entirely clear. All things considered, effective delivery
and productivity shouldn’t be an issue when considering remote
collaboration as long as you have the right tools and processes
in place. At VAIRIX, we rely on our remote collaboration
process to carry out all our projects and the challenges
that they involve. If you’re looking to scale your team and would
like to try out remote collaboration with us, we can guarantee that it will be as effective
as having in-house staff by our side. Get in touch to learn more about our workflow
and how we’re helping our current U.S. partners. Thanks!

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