The Do's & Don'ts of Managing an Outsourced Python Development Team
Python is a spectacularly productive programming language. When combined with the hundreds of thousands of libraries, frameworks, platforms, and tools that it supports—it enables developers to achieve a staggering amount in a very short time frame.
The speed at which projects and teams can progress when it comes to managing outsourced developers can be a huge advantage to firms, as we’ve covered in our article Should You Hire Python Freelancers or an Outsourced Python Team. Outsourced development is uniquely suited to creating an environment where engineers can create solutions, complete complex tasks, and work freely without undue distraction.
Managing an outsourced python team means harnessing these advantages rather than minimising them. It means being reactive to issues as they unfold and proactively solving problems before they develop. At the accelerated pace of Python development, this takes a little management experience and skill.
No matter which development methodologies you follow or the management style you choose—there are a few key dos and don’ts to managing outsourced Python development teams that can ensure your success in the future.
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Advantages of Outsourced Team Management
It’s easy to think of outsourced team management as something vastly different or requiring an entirely separate skill set to managing in-house developers. In truth, with the right technologies, techniques, and frame-of-mind the two are more similar than most realise.
An outsourced team is one filled with highly capable developers who are used to accomplishing a great deal within their field. These are among the assets you want to promote and use to the advantage of your firm.
Introducing new perspectives into a project is an opportunity to catch issues and mistakes that may have otherwise gone unnoticed and unrealised. Similarly, working across multiple-time zones allows a natural extension to productive hours, allowing team members to pick up or leave things for remote colleagues in the offset hours.
Unlocking these advantages is simply about following a few rules that make all the difference in successfully outsourcing Python development teams.
Do’s and Don’ts of Python Development Outsourcing
Do: Define Specific Requirements and Goals
Project requirements are about more than just writing down what you intend to achieve. A requirements document becomes a cornerstone of a software development project, one that’s used to define its direction and align the team behind a common goal.
Ultimately, developers and management will use the requirements document to verify the final product against the project’s goals and deliverables.
Hammering out the capabilities of the project is a critical first step to undertaking development. Your requirements should outline your progress and be checked against the developing solution regularly to ensure continued forward progress.
When it comes to remote teams, micromanagement is one of the easiest traps to fall into. With members and work remotely distributed, it can be that much harder to trust that progress is happening in the right places at the right time.
One of the primary advantages of outsourcing, however, is the professionalism and expertise that the team brings to a project. Experience hard-won over dozens of projects and thousands of hours is a major part of choosing outsourced development over any other solution.
If you’ve chosen outsourcing professionals to undertake your project, then letting engineers get on with the day-to-day problems and work on the fine details is the most productive thing you can do to move the project forward at pace.
Do: Lean Into the Advantages of Python
Python is an exceptionally productive language for developers, as we’ve shown in our piece on the Pros and Cons of Python Development. With vast supporting libraries and extensive suites of tools, development progress in Python is often faster than many other languages. The speed advantage of python development is one that must also be balanced against its management drawbacks, however.
Often, it can seem like the project has moved leaps and bounds since the last check-in or update. It can feel like it’s getting away from you too fast to keep tabs on. Simply steering the direction of its progress can begin to feel like a significant challenge.
Effective management of outsourced Python developers means making use of the added productivity to schedule more regular check-ins and updates. The increased pace of progress means there is more to discuss and more time to discuss it—adding safety and assurance without impacting a project’s timescale.
Don’t: Overextend on Budget or Time
Attempting to squeeze too much into a project deliverable is a recipe for disaster in both technology and management.
A classic example is in extending the requirements of a fixed-price project until critical components such as testing or verification begin to suffer. On a more granular scale, adding too many tasks to a single sprint has the same effect—delivering unsatisfactory solutions and unhappy developers.
Be clear about what can and can’t be done in a certain time frame. Technical experts will provide advice and assistance on this for many projects; they’re important voices to listen to. A great place to start planning time/budget is in our free consultation: we’ll do the work for you and connect you with up to 5 companies within 72h that match your needs.
Do: Communicate Well
Regardless of whether your team is next door, across the city, or on another continent—communication should change very little, if at all.
In practical terms, this means using instant messengers such as Slack or Skype and using video calling solutions such as Zoom or Hangouts.
Establishing clear channels of communication from day one and sticking to them well helps a lot. Even when there’s comparatively little to communicate over, establishing habits of regular updates and check-ins goes a long way to keeping everyone in the loop.
Don’t: Use a Generic ‘One Size Fits All’ Approach
Team members and teams themselves are entirely individual. The way people work together and the dynamics they create when they do are slightly different with every team you get.
Management styles may have to adapt, just slightly, to accommodate these changes. This means making sure team members have the space and time they need to create solutions, work on problems, and produce to the best of their ability. It also means ensuring they have the support they need and their path is clear of obstacles that could get in their way.
Monitor your team's progress and try to analyse how they might work better, what is hampering progress, and how well relationships are developing.
Managing an Outsourced Python Development Team
Unlocking the potential of an outsourced Python development team isn’t a trivial task. It requires care and attention to pick up on potential issues and adapt to find an optimal solution that works for everyone.
These key do’s and don’ts go a long way to achieving your goals and making the most out of a highly productive Python development team into the future. After all, Python is going to be a fixture of development for years to come, as we show in our article Glimpse Into the Future of Python Engineering.
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