Managing Global Development Teams

BLG01x - edited feature imageManaging software development teams is one of the most nuanced, involved, and difficult things you can try to do. There are multiple places and phases which are incredibly sensitive to changes in budget, management, and time constraints.

The delicate balance of managing change and meeting software requirements is up to the product owner and development lead. In many ways, project leads are the most important facet of software development.

Even if you have the most skilled developers, coders, and software designers available, there is no substitute for good management.

Establish great communication practices

Software development can be further complicated by miscommunication. Miscommunication is an easy trap to fall into when dealing with distributed teams. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to establish great communication with distributed team members at the beginning of the development process.

Schedule crucial meetings

There are a few strategies to establishing a clear communication policy. First, it’s necessary to establish how, when, and where team members will meet. In modern software development teams, it is widely accepted that daily or weekly meetings are good way to gauge progress. These daily or weekly meetings usually take place face-to-face. With video conferencing technology it is possible to have face-to-face meetings with your team members even if they’re located in different parts of the globe.

Asynchronous communication is another great solution for daily, weekly, and monthly meetings. By utilizing the chatroom, applications like Slack can make asynchronous communication easy to establish. It’s important to make the rules of asynchronous communication quite clear. Team members will need to know how long they have to respond to messages from managers, for example.

Incorporate visual information for clarity

When dealing with distributed development teams, it is better to have visual aids. Relying on text-heavy emails may result in confusion. It’s much easier to synthesize visual information.

Utilizing applications like Trello makes project management much easier. Project management tools based on Kanban (which simply means billboard) can help you get tasks completed as they arise in the development process.

With Kanban, you can create guide lean project management, which is essential to modern software development. Using a cloud-based project management tool will make it easier for your development team to track changes on the project board. You can create project boards with revolving task cards pinned to them.

You can organize tasks within a completed column, a work-in-progress column, and a future tasks column. All of these tasks can be visible to everyone on the development team and it’s easy to assign tasks to members of the team.

Having vague project goals is the number one killer of promising software products. You want to make sure you have ironed out the project goals during meetings and on your project board. This means you’ll need your team to speak up if they have noticed any problems, any delays, or any inefficiencies within the team.

This is where establishing the clear communication channels is key. You will not be able to have transparency and project visibility without clear communication. Without clear communication, you won’t be able to respond to change as quickly as you need to.

Ensure that everyone has necessary working tools to do their job

The team must be responsive and welcoming to changes of all kinds. In modern software development teams, the number one indicator of progress is working software. This means that progress is gauged by the creation and advancement of existing software within these cycles. This means your needs will naturally change as your software improves and changes. If you claim to use old software requirements, your software will not be able to flourish. It needs to be able to change and respond naturally to the needs of the development team and the needs of the customer, client, or user.

Managing distributed software development teams is very similar to managing development teams in person. There needs to be a focus on communication, transparency, and project visibility. Change needs to be welcomed, and even encouraged. The main KPI of your project should be the delivery of working software. User satisfaction should be put over implementing tools, features, or development processes.

The key difference between distributed development teams and teams you manage in person is the style and the channels for communication. Through the use of the internet, chat apps like Slack, and cloud-based project management tools like Trello, it is very possible to establish clear communication and to produce great software product.

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About Anthony Coggine

Anthony Coggine is a HR professional turned business analyst. He has spent more than 5 years as a recruitment consultant in a variety of industries, primarily focused on consumer technology and research. You may connect with him on Twitter @anthonycoggine or https://anthonycoggine.contently.com/.

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