There are lots of myths surrounding the concept of remote software development.
* Remote developers don’t know my company, so they can’t deliver as much value as an in-house team.
* Different strokes for different folks—and not in a good way. We won’t be able to get past cultural differences.
* Talented developers are extremely rare. What if I get stuck with a lemon?
* If the team is working on multiple projects, they won’t give my project the attention it needs.
Good news! These myths are just that—myths. Remote software developers are like any other service provider. Some are great, and some aren’t so great. But there’s no need to view the entire concept with trepidation.
Let’s put those myths to rest.
The Truth About Going Remote
Working with a remote development team isn’t without challenges. These things can slow down your production schedule or even bring the project to a grinding halt if you don’t address them up front:
Different Time Zones
Collaborating across time zones makes communication difficult and can introduce lengthy lag times in the project schedule. It can also make it more difficult to schedule meetings. This is especially pronounced if you’re working with an offshore software developer that is 10-15 time zones away.
People collaborate best when they know and trust the other members of the team. But if your development team is located in another office, you may have trouble getting to know their work style or meshing their team culture with yours.
Hang-ups in Methodology
Agile methodology calls for lots of in-person, face-to-face standups. They’re designed to keep the project moving and make sure everyone is headed in the same direction. But Scrum meetings don’t work the same way if you’re in different locations, and they take more effort and intentionality to deliver the same effectiveness.
This is one of the biggest concerns companies face when working with a remote software developer. Are you sure the developer can deliver a quality product? How do you measure progress? What can you do to protect your intellectual property and know you’re getting well-written code?
These are all valid concerns, and if you don’t get satisfactory answers they could spell trouble in paradise. But they shouldn’t be deal breakers. Let’s look at a few reasons working with a remote software developer makes good business sense:
1. You don’t have the in-house talent to do the job.
If you don’t have an internal team who can develop the software you need, should you hire one? Maybe—but only if that team will be of long-term benefit to your company. Otherwise, working with a remote software developer will give you access to the talent you need without the significant expense of hiring new team members.
2. You get an experienced team with a proven process.
Remote software developers often have extensive experience working with projects similar to yours. They can recommend best practices, work out bugs faster, and identify blind spots in your requirements.
3. You get a fresh perspective on your project.
An outside team can help you think outside your “we’ve-never-done-it-that-way-before” box, bringing new insight to your design and functionality.
4. You can launch faster.
Because they have more resources at their disposal, a remote team can usually finish the project more quickly than you could on your own. That means faster implementation and an earlier launch date.
5. You get the best product for your investment.
Of course, getting a quality product depends on working with a quality team. We’ll talk about how to choose one in a few moments. Once you have that quality team, however, you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck by hiring a remote team to develop the technology you need so you can ramp up productivity and efficiency.
The pros and cons of working with a remote team boil down to one question:
Do you trust the team to do quality work?
How to Have a No-Regrets Experience With Your Remote Software Development Project
When you find a team you trust, you can rely on their expertise, feedback, and ideas to deliver the most value for your software project. Of course, setting up the relationship effectively from the start will keep everybody on the same sheet of music and help you avoid any major breakdowns.
Here are ten ways to do it right.
1. Hire the right development team.
The team you choose will make or break your project—so look for one that has experience in your industry. They should stay up to date on new technology and key competencies to give you the best possible product. Ask them hard questions about their values, work ethic, and communication style, and learn as much as you can about their development process before you sign a contract.
2. Take a look at the team’s previous projects and case studies.
The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Look at work samples similar to your own project. Find out how they handled sticky problems and ask for documented results.
3. Protect your intellectual assets.
As you work with the development team, you will have to share proprietary information about your company. That can be intimidating, especially if you have a unique competitive advantage in your industry. Protect those assets by including a non-disclosure agreement in your contract and specify that the source code belongs solely to you. For more in-depth information on how to protect your intellectual assets, check out this article on software development agreements.
4. Define your project objectives and requirements.
In other words, know what you’re trying to accomplish and make sure you communicate these objectives clearly to the development team. If the team doesn’t have an accurate understanding of your requirements, you won’t be happy with the finished product.
5. Set clearly defined deliverables.
Know what “done” looks like and set a date for each deliverable. Eliminate vagueness with a detailed project schedule for design, development, testing, etc. Include processes for troubleshooting and squashing bugs when they surface in the code.
6. Designate a project manager.
The project manager’s job is to monitor progress, scope, and budget, and to keep everyone on track. When snags occur or requirements evolve, the project manager will make sure they don’t derail the project. Without one, you’re flying blind. This person should follow a standard methodology that effectively balances accountability and flexibility.
7. Keep the team talking.
Communication keeps everybody working toward the same goal. Err on the side of over-communication: use project management software, an internal wiki, email notifications, team meetings, chat apps, and any other communication tools you need to keep both developers and stakeholders up to date on important benchmarks.
8. Stay involved.
Personal connections among team members facilitate communication and put everyone at ease, especially when problems crop up. If possible, set up at least one in-person meeting with the development team before you launch. If that’s not feasible, use videoconferencing to bridge gaps and discuss weekly goals. The more engagement you have from both sides, the more pleased you will be with the final product.
9. Be agile.
We’re not necessarily referring to a specific methodology here—that’s what you’ll decide the project manager as you map out your project. Instead, we mean that you should define the basic elements that keep the gears of the project turning. Talk to your development team about how and when interactions will take place, what the documentation process will look like, and what specific terms mean in the context of the project. Above all, build flexibility and adaptation not only into your process, but also into your mindset.
10. Trust your team.
If you’ve done your due diligence and you know you’re working with a quality team, then trust them to do the job well. Their expertise and past experience will give you valuable insight into how you can increase the value of your software or app, and how you can reach your goals faster.
At Worthwhile, our No Regrets promise drives our process and your experience. We’re so committed to your satisfaction that it’s part of our contract. It’s the best way we know to put your mind at ease about working with a remote team.
Now it’s your turn to put these best practices into action. Get out there and bust those myths!