Hiring remote software developers poses plenty of benefits to employers. Not only do you get access to a diverse talent pool from across the globe, you can also enjoy greater productivity as remote employees don't face the usual distractions found in traditional workplaces. Instead, they're laser-focused on the work and helping you achieve your company's project goals and initiatives.
However, that's not to say that remote developers management doesn't come without its difficulties. Communication, project management, and time management can all be tricky if not properly addressed. The key to successful remote management, then, is going in prepared to face these potential issues. Having a little help from remote team management tools and resources doesn't hurt either.
Below, you'll learn the best tips and tricks to ensure your entire team benefits from the remote experience.
Biggest Challenges in Remote Developers Management
You can't talk about the challenges of remote developers management without mentioning differing time zones.
The following two remote team management challenges are some of the biggest you may face. Fortunately, there are solutions.
Time Zone Differences
Time zone differences are by far one of the biggest concerns when managing remote teams. If team members are working in opposite time zones, it can be nearly impossible to find time to meet or communicate one-on-one. Even trickier, setting project deadlines can be confusing as you have to consider the local times of both you and your employees. One way or another, someone will often end up having to compromise.
A way to overcome this struggle is to work with remote workers who live in overlapping time zones. This means that you and your employees have time zones that intersect, even if you live in different countries. You can enjoy working and communicating in real-time together without worrying about delays due to the inability to meet.
Lack of Communications
It's not just time zones that can affect communication skills in remote developers management. It's also the fact that you can't simply go to your employee's desk when you have a question or information to share. Instead, you must rely on communication tools, like email or messages. This often means waiting a long time to hear back, which could lead to delays on your projects.
Effective and consistent communication practices should be put into place right from the start. After all, companies often lose millions of dollars due to inadequate communication. Establish regular meetings, whether weekly or monthly, at a time that works best for everyone. Encourage your employees to reach out with questions or concerns, and keep an upbeat and united attitude in your responses. Your remote employees shouldn't have to worry that they're not getting all the right information at the right time, and neither should you.
7 Key Tips for Managing Remote Software Development Teams
The following seven remote team management tips will change the way you onboard and manage your remote developers.
Adapt Your Hiring Process to Focus on Remote Teams
You may have a structured hiring process in place for in-person candidates now, but you'll have to adapt it for remote workers. Firstly, remote workers have different kinds of expectations than their traditional worker counterparts. They're used to having more independence and flexibility in how, when, and where they work. As a result, they'll be looking for key words and phrases in job descriptions that emphasize the freedom to work on their own terms. When writing and posting remote work job descriptions, highlight how your company rises to meet these expectations.
Secondly, when hosting remote, virtual interviews, you can ask candidates for more detail on their work style. For instance, you can ask about how they prioritize tasks, deal with at-home distractions, or what they do to maintain a healthy work/life balance. Asking these kinds of questions shows that you as a company have the interests of remote workers in mind.
Utilize Task Management Tools
Managing the tasks of workers in numerous locations is no easy feat. That's where task management tools come in. Using these tools, you can identify, manage, and monitor tasks across your company on a single platform. Each tool has its own set of unique features, though there are some commonalities among most of them. For example, each one allows you to set project milestones, delegate tasks, track individual progress, and set up task priorities.
There's certainly a long list of task management tools out there, but some of the most widely-used include:
- ClickUp: Many software developer companies' go-to, ClickUp has all the task management essentials in an easy-to-use format. You can make use of task templates, priorities, reminders, dashboards, and assigned comments.
- Trello: Trello is well-loved for its board-based interface. Each board contains cards that allow you to assign and view tasks, set deadlines, put up reminders, post updates, or add attachments. Many managers love it for its visual appeal.
- Taskworld: Visually similar to Trello, Taskworld is a top task management software for large companies or those who are expecting growth. With Taskworld, you can assign separate checklists for each task, whether they are one-time or reoccurring.
- monday.com: monday.com has quickly become a notable mention in many project management tools lists. Its customizable platform allows you to set up and control your task workflow to best meet your company standards and goals.
- Asana: Asana is the perfect solution for software developer time management. Asana allows you to track your team's progress in real-time, receiving updates and notifications on any changes. If you're worried about meeting deadlines, this is the perfect tool to get started with.
Identify and Share Long-Term Goals With Your Team
Another key tip for how to manage remote developers is to focus on long-term goals, not day-to-day goals. Focusing on day-to-day goals risk the possibility of micromanaging, even if it's completely unintentional. It can be hard to check the progress of daily tasks when you have people working different hours, unlike a traditional office environment where everyone works at the same time. Plus, remote developers may work on tasks differently, using various strategies that work best for them.
Instead, develop and share your long-term goals with your remote employees. This gives them a better understanding of your company's mission and purpose. They can work towards achieving your mission using their own strengths and creativity.
Set Up an Organized Communication Channel
Communication tools have exploded in popularity since the expansion of remote work. In fact, 61% of respondents in a recent Project.Co survey said they started using a communication tool in 2021. The use of these communication channels is only expected to grow in 2022 and onward. With these channels, you can easily manage and streamline your team's communication and collaboration. Two currently popular choices are Slack and Microsoft Teams.
The widely-used messaging platform, Slack, has a particularly handy communication tool called Slack Channels. Here, you can create a space (or "channel") where all of your team has access to the same conversation. You can share information, files, or audio or video clips with all members of your team, who can then reply directly to the same message. There's no need to send dozens of emails to each team member and attempt to organize replies yourself. You can also even create private channels for one-on-one conversations with specific employees.
Similar to Slack, Microsoft Teams also uses group conversation and information-sharing channels. However, it's also particularly useful for hosting virtual meetings with your remote employees. You can host solo or group meetings and virtually collaborate using a slew of integrations like Microsoft Whiteboard. The Whiteboard is a digital canvas on which everyone can write or draw, making it perfect for sharing real-time data. It's a great way to know that the development process is on track and that everyone is on the same page.
Use Code Collaboration Tools
A common form of collaboration among remote developers is code collaboration. Luckily, just like with task management platforms, there are tools to help make this process much, much easier. Code collaboration tools let your developers work on code together 100% remotely. Each developer can build the code or check for any bugs or other errors. The best code collaboration tools also have in-app communication methods, screen sharing capabilities, and real-time editing. When your developers are able to work together, you can enjoy quicker and higher-quality code building.
Like with task management tools, there are many code collaboration tools to choose from. Some of the best include:
- GitLive: With GitLive, your employees can collaborate in real-time on their code. They can see who's online and what projects they're currently tackling. The tool also has a great communication platform that allows for video conferences.
- Codeanywhere: Codeanywhere has all the in-depth editing code abilities your developers could need to collaborate. These features include revision tracking, auto-complete, and code refractor, among others. This tool is especially useful for more advanced developers.
- CodePen: CodePen offers a "Collab Mode" feature that lets developers work on a project together live. CodePen emphasizes the social side of the platform, allowing for collaboration through messaging in a live chat. It's a good pick for quick coding sessions.
- Codeshare: Businesses and educational institutions alike utilize Codeshare for sharing code. Your developers can simply enter code in the program and share a URL link for others to see. It's straightforward and simple to use.
Appoint Project Managers
Project managers are often a saving grace in remote developers management. After all, there's been a vast amount of changes in how work is approached in a remote-focused world. With all the new tools and platforms out there, it's more important than ever before to have proper management. The right project manager will face these new challenges head-on, keeping the bigger picture of the project in mind while setting measurable goals and realistic objectives. They will also ensure that the tasks completed by remote developers align with the company's purpose.
When appointing project managers, make sure they understand the challenges your remote workers may face. Also, be sure they have a game plan for any issues that may pop up. Being prepared for risks in the remote world is just as important as preparing for successes. Lastly, remote project managers should have a good grasp of remote management tools and platforms. This will make their job (and the remote employees' jobs) smoother.
Make Use of Virtual Meetings
You know that having virtual meetings can improve communication. You're also familiar with plenty of neat integrations that make virtual meetings more engaging and interactive. But how else can you optimize your virtual meetings?
Before the meeting, come in with an agenda that clearly outlines the intent of the gathering. You can send this out in one of those handy communication tool channels beforehand so that everyone knows what to expect. Make sure everyone is aware of the exact timing of the meeting, too, especially if you're working in different time zones. Lastly, pick a communication platform that everyone has access to.
During the meeting, make sure that everyone's tech is working properly, including video and audio, if they are using them. You can take this a step further by appointing a tech-savvy person to handle any issues that pop up. Secondly, encourage your team members to participate by speaking, raising their hands, or using reactive emojis. You can also record the meeting for everyone to review after it's done.
After the meeting, send out a meeting recap that details what was discussed. Even more importantly, list action steps that team members should take next with deadlines for when to complete them. This helps give further organization and structure. You can send this out in a communication channel, too.
Measure the Success of Your Remote Software Development Team
All companies benefit from measuring success using company-focused metrics.
Part of managing your remote developers is measuring the success of your efforts over time. In doing so, you can see where your team is excelling and where there's room for improvement.
To measure your success, you can decide on a few key metrics. Your metrics should reflect your organization's goals and overall purpose. With so much data to choose from in software development, picking your metrics can be a bit tricky. To help you out, you can choose from some of the most common ones below:
- Quality/defects: Check for the number of defects that appeared during production. For instance, the number of bugs found in the code. This gives you an idea of how many issues arose and how your team was able to address and solve them.
- Open/close rates: Your open/close rates will shed insight on how quickly issues were reported and closed within a specific period, such as weeks or months. You can better understand how efficiently and consistently your team works.
- Team velocity: Measuring your team velocity will tell you how much work is completed within a certain timeframe or sprint. You can do so by measuring how long it took your team to complete a backlog of tasks by story points or hours.
- Cycle time: Cycle time goes a little more in detail compared to team velocity. Here, you'll calculate how long it takes your developers to finish one task. You'll have shorter units of measurements, such as minutes or hours, to understand team productivity better.
These metrics are great for understanding your remote employees' overall productivity, efficiency, and completion capabilities. However, you can also measure other factors like communication flow, security strength, or customer satisfaction levels. In the end, you choose your metrics by first identifying areas in your company you'd like to learn about, or that could use some improvement. From there, develop goals and targets you'd like to meet and see if you're on the path to getting there. If not, that's when you can implement changes.
Change the Way You Manage Your Remote Team
Remote developers management may sound difficult initially — but it doesn't have to be. As the world adapts to a place where remote workers are the norm, it's also provided many tools and resources to guide you along the way. Plus, incorporating the tips and tricks above into your remote strategies will make for a more manageable — and even pleasant — remote experience for your whole team.
If you're ready to start remote managing but don't have your remote development team set up yet, check out Revelo. Revelo is a talent marketplace that connects you with the top pre-vetted software engineers in all of Latin America. Using Revelo's hiring services, you'll get shortlisted with remote candidates who match exactly what you're looking for. From there, you can hold interviews and start hiring your remote employees within weeks.
You can spend more time working with your remote team instead of trying to find them. Get in touch today to learn more!