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Hiring a dedicated software development team and outstaffing in general have been one of the larger work trends of the past ten years. With technological advancements in communications technology and the further proliferation of remote work culture, dedicated software teams are on their way to becoming even more commonplace.
But the question remains: is outsourcing development right for you? And how to manage a remote software dedicated team remotely across time zones and cultural borders is still an issue that concerns many managers.
In this post, we'll be weighing the pros and cons of outsourcing web and mobile development, what to do if you've decided to work with a team halfway across the world, and some of our own best practices.
Read also: Risks of Software Development Outsourcing
Why choose a remote software development team
Building an in-house staff and hiring a remote software dedicated team both have their clear strengths and drawbacks. For most businesses, the decision will come down to increased time to market and the cost savings associated with outstaffing. Here's a full rundown of the differences between the two strategies:
|In-house team||Remote software development team|
|Hand-pick candidates based on any factor||Candidates are chosen for you based on skills|
|Hard to scale||Easy to scale|
|Efficient communication and high agility||Heavy reliance on detailed roadmap|
|Time to market delayed due to hiring and related red tape||Ready-to-work team and increased time to market|
|Talent pool limited by geography and competition||Easy access to globally sourced talent|
|Some of the most expensive development in the world||Dramatically decreased development costs|
|Loyalty and goodwill in some cases||Potential motivation problems in some cases|
|Ability to hire culture fits and culture adds||Contractor's company culture determines hires||
Let's look at some of the potential benefits outlined above in closer detail.
Recruiting in-house developers in the US, Canada, and the UK is a notoriously arduous and competitive process. According to research by Stack Overflow, only 15.9% of all developers are actively looking for new work, but almost 75% are interested in hearing about new opportunities. This will almost definitely result in a lengthy recruitment process that involves multiple rounds of interviews stretched out over multiple weeks just to hear "I've decided to stay with my current job" at the end.
Moreover, if you're looking to hire in-house in a less competitive market outside the major urban centers, you will find it difficult to find qualified candidates to interview in the first place. Enough companies in this field offer remote work, so you're really competing on a global scale here.
And all that time and effort spent by your workforce (in-house recruiters or head hunting agency) add up to additional costs for your project and a delayed start. On the other hand, when you hire a dedicated team, the BPO provider already has all the necessary staff who are ready to hit the ground running and work on your project.
The question of scalability and adaptability of your in-house team should also be a part of your focus. It's not unheard of for projects to expand and contract in scope as development goes on. Ongoing business analysis, changes in regulation or marketing demands can suddenly add or remove a component of a product. In-house teams can struggle with ad hoc hires and are likely outsource a part of the project anyway.
The real downside is descaling your team — layoffs are messy and expensive and can damage your reputation both in the eyes of investors and potential new staff coming in in the future.
Those who hire a remote development team can meet these demands as they arise. What you pay for is the completion of a given project and the final result and nothing.
What about agility? In-house, decisions are quickly made and quickly communicated throughout the organization, but a remote team will likely be thousands of miles (and several time zones) away. What then? A major part of managing a remote software dedicated team involves establishing communication guidelines and a robust roadmap for everyone to follow. Staying on the same page isn't a problem if there is a literal page to refer to.
Things do come out of left field, though, as everyone knows. You can't foresee unforeseen circumstances. Establishing daily and weekly update meetings can help, as well as adjusting working hours of all the stakeholders to ensure maximum overlap. Overall, if your project is changing in scope every week and major features are added and removed often, this would be detrimental to any development in-house or offshore.
You can find more information on how to build a remote software dedicated team and manage software dedicated developers remotely below.
How to hire the right people for a software dedicated team
Depending on your project and the BPO provider you choose, you may or may not have the ability to interview the team you'll be working with. If you want to build your own managed dedicated software development team, you've come to the right place.
At Softermii, we encourage our clients to work with developers directly and stay involved in the hiring process to ensure each role is filled by the right candidate. We'll offer candidates who we think are good fits and the client approves them after an interview. This allows you to bypass the most time-consuming and likely-to-fail stages of hiring developers.
Focus on the technical questions right away — you need to make sure the person you're interviewing has the necessary skills to get the job done. Ask about any similar projects they've worked on, what pitfalls they encountered and how they dealt with them. Make sure you ask about what process they follow, whether they consider their work creative, and if they have any ideas about the project at hand right away. This will help you judge whether they can be a good addition to the team.
How to effectively manage a remote software dedicated team
In our experience, there is no one correct way to manage a software dedicated team remotely to rule them all. Rather, there are a few best practices that can be followed by everyone involved to make sure that the project stays on track. As with all managerial solutions, the key to success is proper communication.
Set up communication protocols
It's prudent to set up rules for communicating within the project from the get-go. Depending on how much of the managerial role you delegate to the vendor's PM, this can be either your job or theirs. In any case, determining the tech stack and related responsibilities will ensure you hit the ground running and stay on track until work on the project is finished.
- Pick the communication and project management tools you'll be using. Do be mindful of automation options and all the integrations these tools have. Slack, Zoom, Jira and Google Drive are our personal preference.
- Work around the time zone difference by communicating what time frames both sides use as working hours. It's best for teams to overlap at least 4 hours during the workday for efficient communication.
- Set up weekly and daily calls for the whole team to join and report on their work. If the whole team is too large for such a call to be productive, meet with team leads both separately and together.
Make your calls engaging
If you've ever been on a Zoom call with ten people or more, you know that it can be a snooze-fest. People stay quiet unless they hear their name, keep their webcams off, and are most likely just waiting for the call to end so they can go back to doing their job with no intrusions. This situation should be a huge red flag for any manager. Here's what you do if you want to manage software dedicated developers remotely:
- Say hello to people individually as they enter the call, if possible.
- Spend a few minutes chatting about a topic tangentially related to work, like a news item that may be interesting to the team. Ask what they think about it and don't just wait for people to take the initiative to respond — call on names and be sure to listen and respond in earnest.
- Start the business part of the call by summing up what has been going on since the team last connected and give shout-outs to individual team members for doing a good job.
- Prepare visual aids to help guide everyone through what you're saying — not a wall of text, but real visuals. This ensures that no one tabs out or starts chatting on Slack as the meeting continues. You can also send the deck to participants to review later on, ensuring they retain what they heard.
- Ask questions proactively throughout the process. You may be doing this already, but make sure you're calling on people's names to answer them, as well, unless you like hearing a deafening noise after the question.
- Make sure you listen and be empathetic to your team. Nothing demotivates like having your request fall on deaf ears.
Motivate your team and keep them focused
When you hire a remote development team, it's a good idea to screen your future teammates for self-organization. That's just one of the ways you can ensure they don't lose focus or motivation to provide their best at work. Here's what else you can do:
- Use time-tracking software. At Softermii, we prefer Hubstaff for its ability to connect to Atlassian products we use in our work, as well as Slack. This ensures everyone is aware that work time is separate from personal time.
- Always provide feedback. Everyone wants to know if they're doing well at work, even though not everyone has the guts to ask. Make sure your teammates know where they stand.
- Conversely, you should always listen to what your teammates say. Work isn't a democracy and it's literally impossible to incorporate all the feedback you're going to get, but being heard is always valuable on an individual level.
- Encourage mission focus by emphasizing the role that this team plays in the larger project. This will empower them to make decisions in service of the common goal and keep them accountable for the contributions that they make.
Define the roles and responsibilities in the team
When laypeople ask how to build a remote software dedicated team, they typically think of a team of coders working side by side, producing code that magically turns into a usable application by the end. That's not far from the truth, but the reality is a bit more complex than that. The traditional structure of a development team is rather rigid and, if the project is large in scope, dependent on multiple bosses keeping track of what's going on in the field to report up.
The most senior person on any given project. In the context of building a remote software dedicated team, this is typically the client or a representative of the client. The Product Owner is responsible for communicating and maintaining the vision for the product under development to team members, as well as communicating with all stakeholders and relaying that information back to the team.
The Product Owner is typically endowed with the power to make decisions on the project to align processes with business goals. Working without such a person at the helm can result in miscommunication and directionless developers and, as a direct result of that, unnecessary overwork.
The PM's job is to stay on top of every task on the project at every step, as well as making sure that every action taken by the team is on task and within scope (including the budgetary scope). They are responsible for communications within the team and taking care of any motivation issues, filling roles if any are vacated during the project, and answering everyone's questions.
This role is typically filled by a highly skilled generalist with a knack for leadership and organizational management. Without them, miscommunication and disorganization are imminent.
Software Architect / Tech Lead
The Architect is typically the most experienced developer on the team. Their role is to make high-level choices, like deciding what tech stack to use, separating the project down to its component parts, and ensuring developers' adherence to high standards of code.
Coders are the "boots on the ground" of the software development process. They typically follow a clear set of directions coming down from the PM, Architect and TL and submit work in batches called commits.
Developers are separated by coding function and programming languages. Front-end developers are responsible for the user-facing part of the product, back-end developers create the server-side frameworks that facilitate the product's functionality, and so-called full-stack developers can perform either function, sometimes both.
There are different estimates for the number of programming languages out there, but they number into the hundreds. We won't list them all here to keep it brief.
Developers are normally the lowest rung on the project and are at the highest risk of leaving during the development phase. It's the PM's job to increase employee retention on any given project.
The QA Engineer is responsible for finding the bugs in each new iteration of the product during and after the development phase. Depending on the scope of the project, the team can have a single QA specialist reporting to the Project Manager and Product Owner or multiple QA Engineers reporting to the QA Lead.
The designer has the task of creating the look and feel of the application under development. Again, just like with the QA role, the number of designers on a project can grow with its scope.
How to hire a remote software development team: checklist
Here are all the steps you need to follow to build a remote software dedicated team for any project you may have in mind.
Why build a remote dedicated software team with Softermii?
Simply put: we've been around for long enough to know what to do and what not to do under any circumstances, but we are still a young and hungry company. Our clients get the best of both worlds. We're still at the point where we're earning our laurels, rather than resting on them.
Contact us now to chat with a technical specialist about hiring our dedicated team.
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