Ever more companies are looking into setting up offshore development teams to scale up their operations. However, most decision makers in the tech industry experience very similar challenges with their remote developers. We talked with Igor Tkach, CTO at Daxx, and asked him to share the management practices needed to lead a successful offshore team.
1. Never Lose Track of Quality
Remember, quality is the key to the success of your product, because you don’t want to see it fall apart every time you add a seemingly insignificant feature. Here are some tips that will help you keep production quality high at all times:
Don’t accumulate technical debt
Make refactoring a regular practice by setting this task to your team about once a fortnight. The more often your developers allocate time to go back through their code and optimize it, the less technical debt you’ll accumulate.
Build a stable team
Since all developers write code in their own style, it’s better when the same people work on your product throughout the entire development process. The code will be smooth, and bug fixing will be a lot easier as well. You can build a stable team with the help of effective human resource management. However, if personnel changes are unavoidable, regularly updated technical documentation is your best friend — just make sure everyone on the team can access it.
Create coding standards
Establish and document a development flow with clear coding standards, then make sure your offshore team sticks to them. This will help your team carry out tasks more accurately, while improving the quality of your product.
Add QA engineers to your offshore team
Ideally, your team should have one QA engineer for every two programmers. In addition to this, you should make sure that your developers understand that it’s better to self-assess their code before it is sent to a QA engineer for a more thorough review.
2. Ensure Compliance with Deadlines
Deadlines are an essential part of a development team’s successful performance. To make sure your offshore team never misses them, follow these steps:
Stick to MVP
Determine the essential features of your product and let these be the basis of your project’s requirements. Don’t try to include all the cool features you’ve planned into the first release. Follow a gradual development process to keep the scope of your product manageable. Get comfortable with the idea of MVP — this will help you reduce risks and achieve higher productivity.
Invite everyone to take part in the estimation process
Choose an estimation technique and involve all team members in the estimation process. This is the only way to get an accurate estimate as each developer evaluates tasks according to their personal experience and capabilities.
If you and your team are aware of possible pitfalls and know how to tackle them should they appear, there’s nothing that can hinder on-time performance. Your entire team should be responsible for risk identification, but you will need to appoint a person whose responsibilities include the creation and maintenance of a risk management process. Whenever a team member identifies a risk, you must make sure they make a note of it and that there are contingencies should it occur. If the risk is serious, take preventive action immediately, especially if the risk involves a third party - these issues definitely require your attention because you can’t manage third parties directly. In some cases, you can even transfer the responsibility for the risk to them.
3. Keep an Eye on the Working Process
The development of a successful product requires extraordinary attention. You should always be aware of what your team is working on at any given moment, and what challenges they’re facing. Here are some suggestions on how to keep track of the development process:
Develop a clear communication strategy
You can probably get away without a communication strategy if your team is small, but if you’re managing a large or distributed team, a well-established and fully documented communication process is an absolute must. Make sure that the strategy incorporates your meeting schedule, communication tools, and the organizational structure of the whole team. Don’t forget to outline who should be contacted in case a certain type of problem occurs.
Choose the right tools
JIRA is a good solution when it comes to task tracking and reporting, but you’ll need to set it up correctly for it to be efficient. Meanwhile, Slack is the perfect program for instant messaging. Other tools you need to include are a repository, a build system, and a continuous integration system.
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4. Ensure Mutual Understanding Between You and Your Offshore Team
When it comes to distributed teams, especially if team members hail from different cultures, mutual understanding doesn’t always come naturally. Stick to the recommendations below in order to nip any potential clashes in the bud.
Write down your requirements
Remember, as far as developers are concerned, if it isn’t written down, it doesn’t exist. Don’t expect your remote team to do something you may have taken as a given but didn’t explicitly mention in your requirements. Keep nonfunctional requirements in mind as well — these include security, browser support, scalability and much more.
Make sure your team understands the requirements before getting to work
Good practice is to double-check that every developer understands exactly what they have to do. You might feel like a primary school teacher, but this discomfort is a small price to pay for a result that meets your requirements to the letter. Never hesitate to contact your offshore team in case of any questions, and explain that they should feel free to do the same. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when you realize that reaching an understanding isn’t that difficult.
We hope you’ll find our recommendations on managing your offshore team useful. We’re looking forward to reading your thoughts on this topic in the comments.
This article is based on the material presented in Forbes article.