How to manage your own dedicated software development team

11 min read
July 13, 2022

Outsourcing software development is quickly becoming the norm in the IT world.

According to market research firm Technavio, outsourcing will become a $98 billion industry by 2024.

In a way, this isn’t surprising. Hiring a dedicated remote team instead of an in-house one is the best way to thrive in today’s competitive market.

It allows you to launch quality apps faster in a cost-efficient manner.

However, you can only realize these benefits if you properly manage your dedicated software development team. Here are some best practices to consider.

Make sure the expectations are clearly communicated

Before your dedicated team—or, indeed, any employee—can do anything meaningful, they must first know what they’re trying to achieve and why.

That means every team member must have clear goals and expectations. They must also have specific roles in place to avoid double work and crossing of responsibilities.

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And since you (the client) are effectively the manager of a dedicated team, it’s your responsibility to set and communicate these things to them.

Linda Hill, a professor at the Harvard Business School, sums it up best when she said:

“A manager’s job is to provide ‘supportive autonomy’ that’s appropriate to the person’s level of capacity.”

Supportive autonomy is an apt description. It means you give your team enough direction to achieve a task without micromanaging them.

But to do this, you must first be clear with your app’s vision. You do this by figuring out the purpose, goals, target market, and intended features of your project in three key areas:

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App requirements are essential, so everything is laid out. This enables you to determine the time and resources needed to implement your project.

In turn, the dedicated team will be able to set their own goals more effectively.

Writing down the dedicated team’s goals and expectations is also critical. Never leave anything to a verbal agreement.

Always have a paper trail, preferably a signed contract, to return to in case of conflicts or misunderstandings.

There are plenty of risks you are susceptible to if you lack a contract, as this infographic illustrates:

elements of a legal contract infographic

Source: Kira

You should always have three important signed documents when working with dedicated teams.

The first is a non-disclosure agreement or NDA. This agreement forbids the client and development team from leaking sensitive information they might get during the project.

This can help protect trade secrets, sensitive user data, and intellectual properties that constitute a competitive edge.

It’s a good idea to sign NDAs as early as the consultation stage. This ensures that the agency will not leak your app idea, should you not pursue work with them.

Never disclose anything without an NDA.

NDAs are good for fostering trust, which is why the DECODE team always has them during discovery calls.

Next is the statement of work (SOW), which lists the project’s scope, deliverables, timetables, and payment schedules in detail. Other provisions include:

What is included in statement of work for software development sow structure

Source: Relevant

Last is the master service agreement, which serves as the contract that legally binds the dedicated team to the project.

It outlines the terms of the agreement, including risk allocation and dispute resolution.

These are just the typical documents you might need to run a dedicated team. They seem tedious and time-consuming to create, but they’re worth the effort for the clarity they give.

Plus, it gives everyone peace of mind.

Establish a reporting system

A reporting system should be a given for working with any dedicated team. It ensures you’re always in the loop while giving your team enough space and freedom to do their work.

This also helps avoid micromanagement, which is the worst possible way to work. An infographic by Gartner shows you why:

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Micromanagement is also a huge waste of your resources. Time hovering over your dedicated team is better spent doing other productive things.

And you’re probably paying your dedicated team to take a huge chunk of their time just to report to you.

We get it, though. Many clients are used to seeing their staff at work. And having a remote team means they can’t see what they’re doing.

This can trigger trust issues and encourage micromanagement.

A reporting system eliminates these problems by establishing a set time for giving regular updates.

For example, at DECODE, we have a quick daily meeting with clients to give them a heads-up on their projects.

In addition, we have regular in-depth reporting with the client, thanks to our agile methodology.

agile methodology

Source: DECODE

Agile methodology splits development into sprints. At the end of each sprint session, clients can request an app review or even demo a prototype.

Any feedback will then be incorporated into the next sprint.

Using this system, we ensure that clients have 100% control over their apps without micromanagement. It gives both parties good pacing and great overall output.

Of course, this is just an example. You can set up any reporting protocol and frequency that works best for all parties. The key is to simply communicate these as early as possible.

Support your dedicated team

A dedicated team works essentially just like your in-house team. Hence, to be effective, you need to support them 100%.

We already mentioned that you shouldn’t micromanage a dedicated team. Instead, you should empower them.

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Empowerment is the antithesis of micromanagement because it’s built on trust. You give team members the space and freedom to make decisions and solve problems independently.

In the long run, this approach can lead to better quality apps that launch faster. That’s because you get more perspectives.

Your dedicated team is composed of experts, after all. It’s only natural that you should listen to them.

Sometimes, your in-house team might need to collaborate with your dedicated team. For example, they might tap into your graphic designer’s services to create app assets.

In these cases, make sure that the collaboration between your in-house and outsourced team is seamless. Give them the tools they need to communicate and share assets directly.

They should also view each other as partners and not as competitors. It’s not uncommon for in-house staff to feel threatened when you hire outsiders for fear of being replaced.

The key is to discuss that outsourcing is meant to complement the in-house team and not supplant them.

When in doubt, discuss this openly with your dedicated team. Ask them what support they need from you to be at their most productive.

But for the most part, you’ll find that it doesn’t take much on your end to support your dedicated team. The important thing is that they feel trusted to do the work.

Prioritize quality over deadlines

As a client, your concern is to launch your app as quickly as possible. Ironically, the best way to achieve that is not to focus too much on deadlines.

That’s because rigid deadlines often mean tight timeframes and overwork. And despite the hustle culture glamorizing 12-hour workdays, that’s not the most efficient way to work.

In fact, it will do more harm in the long run.

Studies show that 60 hours a week of work will cause a dramatic drop in productivity after the fourth week.

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Even the regular 8-hour workday isn’t the most effective.

Instead, aiming for 35 hours a week is the best approach. Working your project deadlines around this figure is the best way to promote productivity and consequently churn out quality apps.

To be clear, we’re not saying you should forget timelines entirely. They’re still an important ingredient for app development.

In fact, you should always introduce a sense of urgency to give the development team momentum.

What we’re saying is that there should be balance. Often, clients focus too much on the app launching on time that they sacrifice quality and team morale.

Unfortunately, launching a flawed app early will still lead to failure.

Inflexibility will also lead you to deal poorly with changing requirements. The truth is, no matter how well you plan your app, things will not always go your way.

For example, usability testing might tell you that a key feature is not sitting well with end-users.

If you insist on retaining it because your project will miss a deadline, you’re doing your app a big disservice.

Having a quality-over-deadlines mindset (and letting your dedicated team know it) can also foster better communication.

It encourages people to be open with you about potential delays in the project rather than hide them or overwork to compensate.

Because the bottom line is that delays are normal and expected. What matters is how you work around them.

Communicate in detail with your dedicated team

The remote nature of a dedicated team makes communication a crucial yet challenging aspect.

After all, going to and collaborating in a physical office was the norm for decades. Veering away from that requires a revamp in communication processes.

No wonder effective communication is often one of the top challenges most virtual teams have.

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But if you want to succeed in this approach, there’s no way around it.

You should start by investing in the right communication tools. Admittedly, there are dozens of options to choose from, but you shouldn’t download all of them.

That will only create confusion and overwhelm.

Instead, focus only on the few tools that are a great fit with your communication style.

A rule of thumb is picking options that cover asynchronous and synchronous collaboration because you’ll need both.

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Synchronous (or real-time) communication is ideal for urgent tasks, brainstorming sessions, and regular meetings with your team.

Video conferencing apps like Zoom and messaging platforms like Slack are useful here.

But for most everyday tasks, asynchronous communication would be your go-to. They’re great for leaving notes, sending feedback, organizing milestones, or sharing files with the team.

Once you have the tools, you should work on your communication process because tools are useless if you can’t use them properly.

There are plenty of ways to foster effective communication with your dedicated team. Some are listed below:

6 strategies to build team communication skills

Source: Asana

But particularly in a remote team setting, a good rule of thumb is to assume that everyone is always busy.

That forces you to send concise, clear, and relevant messages that are straight to the point.

However, it would also be a mistake to make the messages too short. Context matters a lot. You need to provide enough information, so the receiver interprets your message properly.

For example, giving your team the reason behind a sudden revision allows them to understand them from your point of view. This can help them accomplish it with less complaint.

Don’t forget about cultural differences, as they can hinder proper communication. In fact, 60% of outsourced projects fail because of a bad cultural fit.

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Chances are, your dedicated team can communicate in English. But certain nuances in the language can get in the way sometimes.

For example, Asian workers might find Westerners’ assertive and often frank communication style a little shocking.

To avoid these, try to be mindful when communicating, especially during the beginning of your working relationship.

But as time passes, both parties should get into a more natural communication groove.

Alternatively, you can simply work with a dedicated team that 100% speaks the same language as you (like DECODE).

As you can see, communicating with a dedicated team is straightforward in theory but can be challenging in practice.

But having the right tools and clear protocols can help you overcome these obstacles.

Think managing a team is tedious?

We understand that managing a dedicated team might not be the right fit for every client. Most are busy enough with other tasks to be doing so.

That’s why the DECODE team adapts to what works for you. Want daily updates? We’ll do that. Are monthly meetings more your thing? We’ve got no problem with that, either.

Regardless of your preferred setup, we’ll promise top-notch quality and a great experience working with us.

Interested in a collaboration? Get in touch with us today, and let’s talk!

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Written by

Mario Zderic

Co-founder and COO

Mario makes every project run smoothly. A firm believer that people are DECODE’s most vital resource, he naturally grew into the role of People Operations Manager. Now, his encyclopaedic knowledge of every DECODEr’s role, and his expertise in all things tech, powers him to manage his huge range of responsibilities as COO. Part developer, and seemingly part therapist, Mario is always calm under pressure, which helps to maintain the office’s stress-free vibe. In fact, sitting and thinking is his main hobby. What’s more Zen than that?

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