Managing a remote development team

Project leading is not always a walk in the park, not in any area of business. But if you’re not quite sure about how to manage remote developers on your team, it might help to think of the following points that we at Proxify have come to consider necessary for a successful outsourcing experience.

1. Have a project overview and timeline

Arrange a meeting early on with all involved in the project with the view to establishing expectations, timelines, objectives and visions at the earliest point possible. It’s always nice for all involved to know what is expected of them so that they have something to work towards and guide them.

In this respect, breaking a project down into its constituent parts, with separate sprints, can be an extremely effective way of managing remote software developers and getting work done on time. As opposed to overwhelming them by giving them a sense of one huge ongoing project, it gives them a sense of feasibility and makes each part of the whole easier to understand.

2. Be flexible and open to suggestions

Our opinion is that a good freelance developer is one who does what is required of them, but an even better developer – representing the top 5% – is one that goes the extra mile and is not afraid to make recommendations. It is important to remember that many developers have often been there and done it before.

Hence, if they are fairly sure it might be easier to do something a different way, don’t view this as resistance, consider it a time-saving intervention and heed their advice. This is not to say that you should give up how you want things done, but just be aware that an inflexible way of managing a project can lead to significant mistakes and lengthy delays further down the line.

3. Use project management software

Collaborative software, video-calling capabilities and web-based tools have helped to remove the barriers which once upon a time prohibited our ability to work with others at a distance. So, make sure you fill your boots and exploit the benefits of platforms such as Slack and Skype for communicating with remote workers and the myriad project management programmes such as Jira and Trello. Our personal favourite, however, is GitHub, a developer’s hub, where the non-developer can feel just as at home managing a project and quickly and easily seeing the progress being made on a project.

4. Prioritise frequent communication

When those working on a project are distributed across time and geography, the possibility of misunderstandings occurring is magnified. It stands to reason then that the more frequent the communication between your company and its remote development team, the more chance of mitigating these misunderstandings.

Not only will frequent conversations mean less information needs to be communicated and understood each time you converse, but both parties will also be able to adapt to the way the other party works much more quickly than otherwise possible. Standardising communicative means and periods of communication can also be a good idea.

5. Be positive and praise often

Firstly, it should be said that if there is room for improvement regarding a remote worker’s performance on a task or project, be constructive and to the point. In our experience, developers love to know where they can improve – they are genuinely eager to improve their code and knowledge wherever possible.

However, they also love to hear that they are doing well, and that they are performing to the level that is expected of them. For a successful remote development team management positivity and praise can be very important. It goes without saying that it boosts confidence and will also motivate remote workers so try not to forget this.

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