It’s likely enough you will face different challenges working with a remote team. Such challenges may influence on process handling and quality of the final result. Those are objective factors which in the worst case scenario can reduce all benefits associated with development costs to zero.
From our own experience, we have identified 10 key factors for running a successful remote team. They will help the team to work efficiently and give results.
1. Invest in Communication
Working with a remote team is same as working with a local one. Fair enough, the success or failure of the project depends entirely on you. You are the main factor of project headway regardless of potential difficulties. Though they still may arise while working with a remote team. Essentially, your dedication to the idea, attentiveness and vigilance are the fundamentals of success. Unfortunately, poor communication is sometimes a bottleneck that may impact the quality of your project. Not paying necessary attention to such showstopper in the end makes high-quality project development an impossible thing.
2. Give Your Attention to the Project
The idea behind agile methodologies is such that you have to stay focused on the project, keep your mind on it and be ready to jump in in case an issue is found. You are expected to be a real leader of the project keeping your eyes on it all the time. Even though developers usually look for versatile solutions to illogical things, still you have to be a QA for the system. It’s so in order not to just make sure the application works but also to control the results and especially project milestones.
No doubts, QA specialists should be a part of the team as their work is extremely important and useful. But in the end you will be presenting the project yourself so that you have to be extremely proficient in its peculiarities. And, since you are not a technical specialist but the customer and expert in business domain, you may find small anomalies, imperfections or inaccuracies in project’s business logic. Nobody will be ready to replace you without the experience and knowledge of the scope close to yours. What is desirable to have in the project is the maximum QA automation to achieve higher quality product and higher engineer productivity. Anyway, remember that automated tests can get corrupted if you drastically and frequently change the core of your project.
3. Mind the End User
Do not perform the entire implementation of the project without having validated it with end users first. Always try making the software user friendly as the user is in most cases a person with no IT skills. Consider that fact as very important to make the software easy-to-use. The last thing for you can be conducting a demo as per users’ request. But that should be the extreme limit so make sure users understand the concept of the software in full and are able to use it with no significant problems.
4. Get a Technical Advisor
It is desirable to have your own technical consultant, whom you trust and who at the same time will be interested in successful project completion. Ideally he should assist you in forming the team that suits you best. People may have diverse styles of doing business and it is important not to feel uncertainty and distrust when working with colleagues from another time zone, and perhaps another culture. Similarly, an off-site consultant can restrain the team from excessive optimism or desire to use the latest, but not stable technologies, or inversely, recommend something from innovations that would considerably simplify your life. Also, he will allow you to objectively estimate possible difficulties in the future. And in any case he will protect you from attempts to bend somebody’s ear with the flow of technical terms to cover up your own mistakes.
5. Mind Your Team
Make sure your team gains something with each project. This may sound strange but you should gain something with each project just as your team does. And by something I don’t mean just your project payment. Relationship between you and your team are the ultimate assurance for any upcoming future customer or investor to deliver their project in due time and within predefined quality parameters. Any mutually beneficial relationships are usually very fruitful, long lasting, the key to team’s 100% efficiency and the key to project’s success.
6. …and Know Your Team
You should meet your team off-line. For example, someone from the team should come to you to work together during the initial phase, or you can visit the remote team and work from their location. In any case, it will save a significant amount of time, which is often spent on an incomplete understanding of the project, caused by improper interpretation of project specifications. It is important to understand that the team is your partner in development of such a specific product as software so if you have a perfect specification that completely describes the product, it can be checked using automated methods. Therefore, either your specification is ideal, or you build relationships with the team to be partners. There is no other way to succeed.
7. Mind the Milestones
Consider objective circumstances of the development process when executing your marketing and other business development processes. The team needs to be aware of the fact that once a significant milestone is completed, you will be conducting a demo. Note, that you need a separate dedicated demo server that will also carry a stable version of the project. It may not be the latest, but stable. A good kit for further business development will consist of a separate server, carrying the latest version of the product, and the other one having latest guaranteed stable one.
8. Do Not Overcontrol
If you follow the points from 1 to 7 and they seem logical to you, that is unlikely your case. Give your remote team the twin gifts of breathing space and faith in their abilities. Remote work is something that gave them independence. Trust them to deliver the goods the way they are meant to be and put away the urge to micromanage every small activity. Keep the golden mean, and the people worth cooperating with will never waste your money.
9. Be Agile
Do not look for a silver bullet. In practice, there is no an absolutely perfect system. During our work we came to face both technically well planned but poorly implemented systems, and those made quite chaotically, but which were successfully solving business problems for years.
10. …and Ready for Changes
On a rare occasions, a certain technology perfectly fits in all phases of the project life cycle. So be prepared to make changes to the system if, say, your project gets first thousands of users. Changes are not a bad thing. Moreover, they mean the project is alive. The main thing is to give attention to your own project, to be an expert in your business domain and to find a good team, for which your project will be as important as it is for you. Those moments are crucial for your success.
So remember that only passion for your project, trust to your team, attention to details and effective communications inside the team will most definitely lead the whole project to success.
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Also published on Medium.