Managing Remote Developers: Why Outsource Developers and How to Make It Work

Jul 22, 2014

As businesses are going online, remote teams become increasingly popular. “Remote” here may mean not only telecommuting, where people are working from their homes instead of getting together in the office, but also outsourcing, where team members come from different countries and are located hundreds of kilometers away from each other.

The second scenario is especially widespread in IT: when businesses hire developers offshore, they get a distinct price advantage that lets them be more competitive in the market. But there are even more reasons to get into the hassle of looking for offshore developers for hire and managing remote developers. Studies show that remote teams have a great potential, if organized the right way.

So, Why Outsource Developers, Aside from Lower Costs?

A study from MITSloan concludes that distributed teams can outperform co-located ones, and other resources have come up with conclusions that remote teams are more engaged than their co-located counterparts and tend to log more hours than in-house employees.

A 2009 study by Cisco shared even more pleasantly surprising findings: “Telecommuting significantly increases employee productivity, work-life flexibility and job satisfaction”. According to the findings of this study, 69% of the respondents stated their productivity increased, and 67% reported the quality of work to improve when telecommuting.

What these findings mean for IT outsourcing is that remote teams have all the potential to replace in-house development, and not only because of the cost savings and the access to a bigger talent pool they allow, but also thanks to the better productivity and effectiveness they can show.

The question is how to make your remote team work this way? Obviously, managing remote developers requires a different approach to make the team use its potential to the fullest.

Managing Remote Developers Effectively

Offshore teams have certain challenges, and here are several essential tips for coping with these challenges and making remote development work.

Use Drawbacks to Your Advantage

With the right approach, the disadvantages of a distributed team can actually be turned into advantages. Your developers often don’t know each other personally and can’t “share bread” daily, so it’s more difficult for them to form bonds - consequently, they have to form these bonds based on deeply shared company values, which turns out for the better. There is far less communication, but there are fewer distractions, so the productivity increases. Finally, communication becomes more deliberate and much clearer, because it’s not something that is taken for granted.

Facilitate Clear Communication

Expanding on the previous idea, clarity is key in communication within a distributed team. When you are managing remote developers, promote clarity and concise writing: asking questions instead of assuming, and writing to the point instead of being clever.

Create a Communication Hierarchy

Less communication often becomes an advantage for remote teams, because instead of attending numerous meetings, they spend their time actually completing tasks. But communication is still needed, and the important thing here is to use the available tools efficiently. A good practice is creating a certain “hierarchy” to determine which tools will be used for this or that need. For example, you don’t want to put the whole team in Cc in an email when you need a quick reply from a co-worker. Quick one-on-one communication can be done via chats, lengthier updates or questions - sent via email to one or several people. Some regular updates that the whole team needs to see can be shared via virtual boards or similar tools.

Hire Developers That Fit in a Remote Team

Hiring the right people is important for every team, but for a distributed one it’s crucial: you need to be confident in the people who work with minimal supervision. The right personality for a remote team is a doer, someone who does not need supervision to get the work done. Your perfect offshore developer is a self-organized person and someone who is not distressed by the solitude of working remotely.

Managing remote developers the right way will let you use all the benefits of outsourcing to the fullest. By turning the disadvantages to your strong points, you will get a team that is highly productive, as well as cost-effective.

Is it time to extend youк software development team? Daxx will help! 

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