We all know that working with a remote development team can be challenging.
Difficulty in communication, the lack of face-to-face meetings, culture mismatch, and language barriers are some of the myriad issues that can crop up with offshore work.
Coordinating your in-house team with your offshore team could be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be.
Using the right tools and methods, it’s possible to seamlessly blend your in-house and remote teams to work as a cohesive unit.
Use Agile methodology in your project management
The right software development methodology can make or break your project. And with a remote setup, Agile methodology is one of the best approaches.
Agile is a rapid development methodology that splits development into several phases called sprints.
Each sprint is like a mini-development that includes all the steps of full development, from planning to development.
You can plan your agile workflow on a
template for managing your projects.
The app is shown to the client at the end of every phase for feedback. These insights are then incorporated into the next sprint.
Dividing development into several components might seem like a minor change, but it makes a huge difference, since it makes the project much more manageable and easier for remote teams to handle.
Moreover, Agile’s iterative approach helps deliver a faster, more polished product.
That’s because testing and feedback are done throughout instead of just at the end of the project, as with traditional development.
This gives you more chances to spot bugs or enhance features.
projects that use Agile have a 64% success rate, while other methods only deliver 49%.
But how does that help in-house and remote teams work better?
The reason is summed up neatly in the Agile manifesto.
Notice the first value—“
individuals and interactions over process and tools.”
That means you can’t succeed without the
right team working together. Tools and platforms are less important.
By using Agile methodology, your remote and in-house teams will be forced to find ways to collaborate and communicate with each other.
The rapid pace of development also keeps everyone on their toes, improving the overall quality of their work.
Manage development teams’ responsibilities
Perhaps the most crucial ingredient of an in-house/offshore collaboration is
It means giving every team member enough direction to work on their tasks independently without micromanagement.
The only way to achieve this is to ensure that everyone is clear on their roles and responsibilities in the project.
This helps avoid confusion and minimizes the likelihood of multiple people working on the same tasks.
It starts with laying out the app’s requirements in three areas:
business, user, and system. This covers all the objectives of your key stakeholders.
You can use the pyramid below as a reference.
Knowing the general requirements of your app project allows you to break it down into tasks and milestones. This, in turn, will help you decide on the roles and skills needed to achieve them.
Then, you need to determine whether the members of your team have the required skills or whether you need to hire new people who do.
To make an inventory of skills within your team, you can interview each member to gauge their proficiencies in areas like coding, QA, or UX.
If you determine that your workforce needs a boost,
hire the specific skills you need.
For instance, if you work with DECODE, we’ll review your project’s goals and requirements. We’ll then handpick from a pool of 70+ professionals to match the skills your app needs.
From here, it’s best to use a project management platform like Asana. This allows you and your team to track their tasks and responsibilities and that of their teammates.
They would also know whom to follow up with or ask for approval on their work.
For instance, the developers on the remote team can view the progress of your in-house UX designers so they can schedule their tasks accordingly.
Asana is just one of the many platforms that can help you manage in-house and offshore teams much better. We will explore this topic more in the next section.
Choose the right collaboration software
The right collaboration and communication software is critical for any remote setup. Without it, offshore work would be nearly impossible to pull off.
The benefit of collaboration software solutions is that they bridge the distance between your in-house and offshore members.
They allow everyone to work together as if they were one team.
However, this will only work if you
use the right tools for the right purpose.
For example, you don’t want to communicate something urgent through email. Chances are, people aren’t always looking at their inboxes, especially if they’re busy.
To succeed, you should consider all the communication roadblocks of your team, then find the tools to help you solve them.
Here’s a great example:
Notice how the above collaboration stack tackles synchronous (real-time) and asynchronous collaboration. Even then, they have tiers for every use case.
For example, an instant messaging service like Telegram is reserved for urgent, emergency messages that you need to deliver ASAP.
On the other hand, one-on-one collaboration and brainstorming are best done in Zoom.
Once you’ve decided on your collaboration tools, it’s important to set rules on how to use them. This can make collaboration more efficient.
For instance, you can dictate that everyone should share files by uploading them to Google Drive and forwarding the link instead of sending the file directly to the intended recipient.
This can help make the file more accessible when necessary.
Rules also help prevent over-communication, which is a major contributor to distraction in the workplace.
If you only had one takeaway from this article, it should be the importance of
Using the right collaboration tools efficiently and with the right timing is effective communication and the success of your project.
Organize regular team meetings
In theory, remote teams can develop the project solely through asynchronous communication tools like email or instant messaging.
However, you should still have regular virtual team meetings for the best results—even 15 minutes a week can do wonders.
Even if there’s a considerable time difference, do your best to find an overlap that’s workable for both teams.
When done right, meetings are a great time saver. They help you uncover problems early on, so you can tackle them immediately and avoid delays.
Plus, doing so can also help you save money, per the
The rule states that for each dollar it costs you to do research in those initial stages of development, any changes in design would cost you an additional $10, and for any changes in the final product, that cost rises to a cool $100.
Therefore, early detection is in your company’s best interest.
Meetings are also useful if a team member encounters a problem they can’t solve on their own.
Using the collective perspective and experience of the group can help you uncover better solutions faster.
However, you need to be careful. Holding a meeting for the wrong reasons will waste more time than it saves.
In fact, the US economy alone
loses $70 billion to unproductive meetings.
In many cases, the intended purpose of a meeting can be achieved with a less time-intensive form of communication, such as instant messaging or email.
For instance, if you need to solve a problem involving only one person, it might be better just to send that person an email instead.
Also, never hold a meeting without a clear agenda because you’ll waste a lot of time.
Here’s a handy guide to figuring out the right time to hold a meeting.
Successful meetings require balance. They need to be held regularly enough to keep everyone updated, but also meaningful enough that they aren’t a waste of time.
Assign offshore developers an in-house buddy
Outside of regular meetings, one of the best ways to keep everyone on track is with the buddy system.
Here’s how it works.
You pair each member of your in-house team with someone from the offshore team and they become responsible for supporting each other, from answering questions, checking on the other’s progress, to relaying important updates from team leaders.
In practice, this means that your in-house team members act as mini-managers to their offshore buddies. This has several advantages.
First is that it helps save time. If an offshore member has questions or needs assistance, they can ask their in-house buddy. There’s no need to schedule a meeting with the manager.
Next, it helps build accountability. For instance, if an offshore team member pledges to submit their task in three days, the in-house buddy can help keep them accountable.
This improves the chance that they’ll meet their deadlines, thereby avoiding delays.
Three, buddies can encourage each other and improve overall productivity.
The more experienced buddy can share their skills or hacks with the less experienced one, helping them work much faster.
Ultimately, the buddy system builds trust between the in-house and offshore teams.
And according to a study by the
Harvard Business Review, this leads to 106% more energy and 50% higher productivity, among other benefits.
Encourage collaboration with team-building activities
Team-building activities aren’t just for your in-house staff anymore. You can also use it to strengthen the relationship between your in-house and offshore teams.
One of the advantages of team-building activities is that they’re much more effective at encouraging people to work together than simple verbal instructions to do so.
National Event Pros
Team building is incredibly effective at helping offshore and in-house team members to know each other more. This bond between teams can help make them trust each other more.
It might seem impossible to do team-building activities over Zoom, but there are actually tons of ideas you can try, such as playing two truths and a lie or having virtual charades.
One unique team-building activity that you may want to consider is
War of the Wizards.
War of the Wizards
War of the Wizards is a 90-minute cooperative game that blends role-playing, murder mysteries, and escape rooms.
In it, teams will need to cooperate on how best to use their limited resources to overcome obstacles and win the game.
It’s a great game for practicing collaboration skills and teamwork, so your team will be in the right mindset when the real work begins.
Truly, with online team building, the sky’s the limit. You just need to use your imagination.
Celebrate examples of successful teamwork
When you see team members collaborating successfully, you must recognize and celebrate it.
Recognition is perhaps one of the biggest drivers of employee performance.
In a recently conducted study,
37% of participants said constant recognition would encourage them to deliver better work.
Great Place to Work
Aside from that, recognizing successful teamwork will inspire other team members to achieve it. It could become a virtuous cycle that fuels your productivity and collaboration.
Optionally, you can even add an incentive to promote collaborative behavior further.
It can be as simple as having a virtual hall of fame that lists the notable offshore and in-house team members who showed exemplary examples of teamwork.
You can even have a yearly trip with your in-house and offshore teams as a reward.
And recognition shouldn’t come from managers alone. It would be best if you also encouraged team members to recognize their peers.
Over time, these practices can help create a culture of remote collaboration in your company.
The secret to making remote and in-house teams work
The key to succeeding in remote work is, quite simply, partnering with the right people.
Reputable teams like DECODE will already have proven systems in place that will make collaboration a joy.
Interested in seeing how we work?
Get a glimpse of our process here.