Since January 2020, software companies have done a great job equipping remote employees with tools and technology to be productive at home. In the software industry, collaboration tools are the norm. Majority of companies prefer to optimize their technology by switching to more reliable infrastructures and communication tools, that can handle heavier-than-normal traffic on remote networks, with increased security, quality, and efficiency of services.
Now, at the end of 2020, the new normal requires managers to rethink some of the approaches and rules for remote-first teams. As a Project Manager working with an agile and nearshore team, consider adjusting your management methodology to maintain performance for your work-from-home distributed team.
For the first time, team members are separated from each other longer, and on-site regular meetings between in-house and partner employees is almost non-existent. Even in the world of agile and distributed teams, not everyone can work well in an utterly remote environment. A good response is to reserve extra time and allow for off-topic discussions and small talks. This can someway compensate for the lack of direct contact.
Companies that are successful as an entirely remote workforce, like Basecamp and Github, point to the condition of the team and the collaborative spirit as important success factors. By the way, there is a remarkable book „REMOTE: Office Not Required” written by Basecamp founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. Fried points that the real challenge of managing remote employees can be also elsewhere, as remote makes people work too hard. He calls this “the great irony of allowing passionate people to work from home”.
Returning to our topic, while working with a software partner, make sure you’ve put together your in-house and nearshore team into cohesive unit. It is very important that all agile team members are equal, and the cooperation is based on close work, trust, and open communication. It is important for each team member to feel equally responsible for the quality and success of the project. It frequently results in innovations and improvements that will benefit the project and business, as everyone has equal opportunities to communicate their ideas and resolutions.
In the last Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report, 53% of respondents said that shifting to a team-based model made a significant improvement in their performance. The shift toward team results improved communication and boosted problem solving, allowing for issues to be resolved quicker. A one-team mindset pushes better project deliverables. This model allows for natural team building, collaboration, and knowledge cultivation, where team success is viewed as personal success.
A team member that is expected to come with initiatives is a motivated one. Empower your team, as well as your partners, to suggest changes and propose solutions. This approach pays off, as seen fist-hand. With one client, the cooperation of teams is dispersed between Seattle, Portugal, and Poland – that’s 3 time zones. Our Delivery Managers observed that empowerment had a positive impact on velocity, team performance, and communication, thus resulting in reduced time to market of new products.
Before entering a partnership, validate if the nearshore company is literate in agile methodology, and determine what agile exactly means to them. Agile projects require a self-organized and self-managed team; therefore, the expectation should be that they can function accordingly. Once you accept a dedicated team, or extend your agile in-house team with software specialists, the transition should go smooth.
One important component for a successful nearshore cooperation is building a shared culture, where the same understanding of agile principles is adopted. Both client and nearshore teams must apply best practices and establish an engagement model that fits both sides. This alignment will foster the team’s and individuals’ work engagement and will result in positive outcomes.
Resilient service delivery and a transparent structure allows for quicker decisions, on-time deliverables, and effective scaling of opportunities. The maturity of a partner can appear in their ability to align client expectations using various engagement models, from bespoke software development to building dedicated teams. Each model of engagement should be based on decisive and sophisticated processes, where the partner’s key departments (delivery, technology, business, and HR) work together to assure end-to-end delivery. An optimal service delivery framework embraces a dedicated management team on the partner’s side, regular review meetings, reporting, quality management, monitoring, continuous improvement, and change management process.
The operating environment for software development has changed, and it is due to cybersecurity. To mitigate risks, security policies should expand to home networks and mobile devices. Confirm that your partner is maintaining security standards for access control, virtual private network (VPN), SSL encryption, firewalls, antivirus programs, and reliable data backups and loss prevention. Verify also contract provisions reflect special policies on intellectual property, confidentiality, physical-logical access control security, data protection, and audits. Modify existing contracts accordingly if needed.
The above conditions can bear fruit to a more productive cooperation with your dispersed team, and encourage camaraderie to all parties in the project during these difficult pandemic times. Over the years, by working with clients from different geographies, we’ve learned and proved that fully remote is never a drag, even today.