The Basics – What Is a Software Development Team?
Simply speaking, a software development team means professionals with the skills to develop and test a software feature or a component. It’s not just developers but a variety of specialists who lead to an IT project’s success. Of course, the structure of such a team depends on various factors: the type and complexity of your product or the time you have to deliver it.
What Roles Are Needed in a Remote Software Development Team?
A remote software development team structure usually includes a product owner, a project manager, a business analyst, product designers, software architects, software developers, software testers, and a DevOps engineer. It's important to note that some project specifications may require the involvement of additional specialists, such as data engineers, data scientists, or machine learning engineers, among others.
The Importance of Project Management for Remote DevelopmentDeveloping software means much more than just a bunch of developers writing the code. Each project needs to meet deadlines and stay within the budget, as well as overcome any obstacles, especially in remote development. This is where project management comes in. Project management means taking care of all logical aspects of running a project while the rest of the team focuses on building the piece of software. It’s also encouraging the team to meet their goals.
Key Responsibilities of a Project Manager
A PM is often called a conductor for an orchestra. This is because they ensure the team works harmoniously to deliver the desired outcome. A project manager stands with the team, provides support in times of difficulty, adapts well to changes, and takes responsibility for decisions. PM supports business analysts in defining project goals and scope and allocates the project team. A project manager is a leader and coordinator who looks after communication and achieving expected results, but at the same time, should also feel the team be one of the members. They facilitate project planning, manage time and resources, manage the development team, and finally, ensure that the team has all the guidance and resources to complete the project successfully.
How to Manage Remote Software Development Team Correctly?
Managing a remote software development team is challenging but doable. From the manager’s perspective, the crucial thing is to communicate goals clearly and monitor the results. To me, as a PM, trust and people are everything. This is what managing remote development teams looks like at Axabee:
1. Importance of Effective Communication in a Remote Development Team
The key principle for meetings is having a clear goal. If the subject or agenda doesn't provide enough detail, don't be afraid to ask the organizer for clarification. This will help you to decide if you can contribute to the meeting's objectives.
When organizing a meeting, it is crucial to prepare an agenda and a list of topics to discuss. The agenda should be used to guide the meeting and ensure that all critical information is covered. If any actions are required, make sure to write them down in notes and assign them to a responsible person with a due date. At the end of the meeting, share your notes with everyone to ensure that commitments are clear and expectations are set for when results can be expected. This approach will help facilitate productive meetings and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Remember to keep your meetings as brief as possible. If it lasts longer than 1.5 hours, take a quick break for everyone.
In addition to official project meetings, it is helpful to schedule individual calls with each team member for a brief chat (around 5 minutes). During these calls, encourage your teammate to discuss any topics they want, whether related to the project or not. This is a great way to foster trust and build a stronger relationship with each team member.
These are just the basics, but they help me make my meetings more effective. You can try them out for yourself.
2. Implementation of Agile Methods
Agile is a valuable methodology, but it must be used wisely. In one of my teams, we hold regular planning meetings every two weeks that last for two hours. At the end of each sprint, we conduct remote retrospectives to evaluate our progress, identify what went well, and determine areas for improvement. In addition, we schedule a brief daily meeting (up to 3 minutes per person) to discuss our progress and any obstacles we may be facing. Each concern is discussed, and we try to find a solution together.
3. Establishing Clear Goals and Objectives for Remote Developers
As a team, we establish both short and long-term goals. As the project manager, I try to review all the necessary steps to achieve these goals. Additionally, I find it crucial to collect prompt feedback from the team; this helps establish a smooth workflow and prepare a project roadmap.
4. Promoting Collaborative Work
Working remotely offers numerous advantages, including increased focus on individual tasks. However, it is crucial to collaborate closely with team members to achieve shared objectives. We aim to distribute repetitive tasks within the team, ensuring that everyone remains engaged and no one feels bored.
Team members are encouraged to make technical calls to discuss complex tasks and issues or engage in pair programming to quickly acquire new skills - this is especially beneficial for remote workers.
As a project manager, I strive to avoid placing undue pressure on the team and always provide honest and supportive feedback.
5. Providing Support and Troubleshooting for Refinement
Whenever my remote team proposes any improvements, we make sure to have an open discussion about them. We believe that everyone should be equally involved in the project's development. At Axabee, we allocate 10% of our time towards improvements, which also helps us manage technical debt. Additionally, in case of an emergency, a project manager may even take on the role of a tester or investigator. We always have all hands on deck!
Optimizing Work Balance Through Remote Team with Project Management Software
We rely on Jira and Teams for our daily work.
'Jira' is a project management system with numerous helpful features that allow us to plan our tasks and track progress. For instance, it enables us to keep a record of versions, release notes, and automate repetitive actions. We make sure to provide clear and concise descriptions of our tasks so that everyone on the team, including developers, testers, and other specialists, understands the objective of the requested change. Beyond planned tasks to do, we also try to manage straightforward bugs. Upon receiving a request about a bug, the Tester or Project Manager confirms the steps to reproduce, and once a bug is confirmed, we vote if it qualifies for a quick fix or not. If it does, it goes straight to the developers with all the necessary information. If it's not an urgent matter, we address it at the end of the sprint or add it to the scope of another sprint.
'Teams' we use for daily communications and meeting organizers. It's because most of our clients use teams as well. We share special channels with our business users to enable them to ask questions and attend demos or presentations.
Managing Remote Teams – a Recap
Is there any secret to managing a remote software development team? First, it is essential to make the company culture inclusive and flexible so that each team member can focus on the development process. Managing a remote development environment requires unique skill sets and approaches but, if handled by an experienced PM, can be tremendously effective in producing high-quality work and accomplishing organizational goals. Remote web development services may provide the resources needed to deliver products your customers want and need.
If you are looking for a software development company that will help you make the most out of remote project management and remote work, our team of remote software developers and software engineers cannot wait to get to know you and help you develop your business strategy!