The Do’s & Don’ts of Managing a Remote Web Development Team
Modern web development is a powerful asset. The ability to create, amend, and rapidly publish to a worldwide audience can’t be overstated. With vast reach, ability, and user engagement; it’s one of few platforms that can reach customers and clients without requiring buy-in or download ahead of use. We’ve already helped you decide if you should hire a remote web team, but how best to manage them?
The pace at which web applications are created makes a remote web development team fast-moving and highly productive. With the use of frameworks such as React, Node.js, or Ruby on Rails these effects become even more amplified. Looking to hire such a remote team? Just tell us what you need. We can do the work for you and connect you with up to 5 companies within 72h that match your needs—all for free!
Managing these teams in an effective and efficient way is a skill that takes both time and practice. Whether you’re new to the role of managing software developers or intending to refocus your firm with a remote development team—we’ve put together the dos and don’ts of managing remote development teams to set you off on the right foot towards future success.
Why Choose Remote Development Teams?
Choosing a remote web development team broadens your firm’s horizons when it comes to the talent pool you are able to search in. By bringing the highest quality, most experienced, and most specialised developers into your firm, remote teams provide the best web available developers to you—regardless of where they’re located around the world.
Running a virtual office for remote developers enables you to lower costs over a physical one while making more efficient and conscientious use of resources. With a recent shift in the uptake of distributed working and remote development teams, it’s rapidly become a standardised approach throughout the industry.
For developers, the added flexibility in their working schedule, location, and environment lead to increased productivity and output over the duration of a project.
How to Manage a Remote Development Team
The difference between remote teams that are effective and those that aren’t comes down to a few simple tips and tricks. These do’s and don’ts of remote team management, curated by us over years of practical experience, often make the difference that sees projects succeed in their environments.
Lean On Commonly Used Tools and Resources
Applications and tools routinely used to enhance in-house development are ideally suited to being extended out into remotely distributed teams. Slack, for example, is an exceptionally powerful messenger when it comes to sharing ideas, updates, and even code across multiple team members.
Ideally suited for web development projects, Slack offers you a way to share code snippets and changes with a view to troubleshooting and debugging at a rapid pace. As a tool that promotes collaboration and communication by design, Slack is something that can’t be ignored in current projects.
Making use of the full range of features allows you to integrate code repositories, bug trackers, and project management tools into one place. Consistent updates and communication between teams has never been easier than it is in today’s working environment.
Be Clear About Your Requirements and Goals
Web development projects are more prone to shifts and changes than many other technologies. The ease of access and additional visibility that web projects have amongst shareholders often leads to solutions being open to more inputs and more ‘tweaks’ than other types of project. Without care and attention, this can be as much a weakness as it is a strength.
A project can be too easily extended, shifted, and distorted beyond recognition. Without strong management skills, the agreed timescales and vision for the project could be all but forgotten.
Clear and well-defined requirements are the simple solution to a difficult problem. These should define the direction, scope, and scale of a project in clear documentation. A little work at the outset really is all it takes to align the team behind a common goal and provide a target to verify the final product against.
Creating these checkpoints provides you with the tools and markers needed to trust and verify a project’s progress as it continues through various development stages.
Know Your Time Zones
Knowing what time your colleagues are working is an essential part of remote team management. Few will appreciate scheduled meetings and catch-ups taking place outside of office hours.
Simply Googling ‘Time now in Berlin, Hong Kong, or London’, for example, is the easiest way to quickly keep track of where another team is at. Conscientious communication can go a long way to building goodwill and appreciation in teams.
As much as time zones might feel like an obstacle, they can be used to your advantage. Off-set schedules can allow work to be done in some offices earlier or later than colleagues to get more productivity from the working week. It’s a practice commonly used to create more effective working hours in the day without adding overtime or over-taxing existing staff.
Lean Into the Advantages of Web Development
Web development projects are somewhat unique in their ability to be accessed throughout the development cycle by various stakeholders and team members. We’ve already discussed how to overcome the issues this might cause, but we should also mention its great strength.
The visibility of a web development project means everyone can be clear about progression and direction as a project evolves from early stages to completion. When it comes to the final product, there should be few internal surprises or major reveals.
Agile methodologies are particularly well-suited to web development projects. Creating rapid iterations on a working prototype makes for strong forward progress towards a shared goal. Just a simple development server keeps the current project state visible and at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
If you want a team that embraces these practises, just tell us what you need. We can do the work for you and connect you with up to 5 companies within 72h that match your needs—all for free!
Abandon Face-to-face Meetings
Catching up with colleagues, in both formal and informal meetings, is critical to the success of remote teams. When transitioning to remote development, meetings can often be the first thing to be discarded as ‘excess overhead’, but this is almost always a mistake.
Making time for meetings, even informal or ad-hoc ones, is critical to keeping everyone on the same page. Whether using Hangouts, Zoom, Skype, or something else—helping everyone to check in can go a long way to keeping projects on track.
Caution should be taken, however. Over-scheduling is just as dangerous and counterproductive as having no meetings at all. One of the key advantages of remote teams is the ability and freedom to create a schedule and environment conducive to strong forward progress. Overbooking staff in meetings, several per day for example, can only get in the way of that.
Use a Generic “One Size Fits All” Approach
Every team you manage is going to be unique. Both its individual personalities and the way they work together will be new and different every time. Ensure you both recognise and use these changes to create a team that adds to more than the sum of its members.
This means adapting your management style, just slightly, to accommodate differences and get the most from a team. This may mean providing more space and time to work on issues, create solutions, and produce the best work possible. It may, just as easily, mean checking in more often to assist with issues or tackle tough problems. Perhaps more frequent informal meetings can work better than longer formal ones.
A proactive management style identifies the requirements of a team and attempts to remove obstacles and issues before they become roadblocks. Finding these solutions takes time, practice, and patience. When done well, it’s one of the most major boosts to productivity your team will get
An easy trap to fall into, particularly with new managers, nothing kills productivity or attitude quite like micromanagement. With the right tools and management style in place, however, micromanagement techniques shouldn’t be necessary for remote teams.
Using project management tools, code repositories, communication tools, and the documentation laid out early in the project—it should be trivial to keep tabs on big picture progress and allow developers to keep the project moving in the right direction.
The role of effective management, when it comes to remote teams, should be about solving technical issues and maintaining overall progress while developers and team members take care of the day-to-day tasks.
Things To Remember Managing Remote Development Teams
Outsourced development teams are highly capable, accomplished, and experienced more often than not. These are assets to use to your advantage rather than inhibit or squander.
While the shift to remote team management is often an intimidating and daunting one, in reality, it’s no more complicated or difficult than in-house management or development. With a few key tips and tricks using your existing know-how and expertise in software development—you’re more than ready to tackle managing remote teams for web development projects into the future.
And speaking of the future, be sure to take a gander at our article A Glimpse into The Future of Web Engineering for even more content!
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