Building Excellent IT Products Remotely
Building IT products is, for a few years, the major goal of companies that desire growth and evolution through technology. As pressures increase of product managers and sales pipelines narrow, there is no longer room for any errors. Ever since COVID-19 started, a digital transformation is taking place. This transformation is accelerating the pace of technology markets, consequently, raising the standards of customer expectations.
Atop the difficulties caused by the pandemic, there exist several problems in countries like The United States that have been prevalent for quite some time now. Software companies since long weigh retaining talents versus reducing production/development costs. Now more than ever, it is very difficult to create and maintain a software development team that is affordable, consistent, productive, and time conscious at the same time.
The desire for companies to assemble remote software development teams is not something new. Statistics show that, in fact, the market size of the outsourcing industry in the US in 2020 is $132.9 billion. It is going to grow by 1.6% in the same year. With such a huge market share, many companies that work with remote teams still struggle to effectively perform tasks in their sales pipeline. At Novateus, our outsourcing teams effectively build excellent IT products.
Strategies to Build IT Products Remotely
A product manager in a remote working environment needs to set up his team and have them work effectively to deliver products on time. Here are a few strategies following which you can manage your remote software development team effectively.
Embracing Customer-driven Approach
Inhouse product and project managers are trained to follow systematic sales-centric engineering approaches. Shifting to remote work requires you and your organization to follow a customer-centric approach, rather than a product-centric one. A product-driven business develops a product first, then looks for a customer. It’s not how it works with software development companies nowadays.
Customers approach them with their ideas, and it’s their job to develop a solution. Remote teams work with market-driven businesses, which function solely on the basis of customer satisfaction. Thus, to deliver an excellent IT product you have to make every effort of delivering high-quality products and services. All these efforts coupled with excellent customer service and support deliver high quality IT products.
Remote teams should research the customers they’re working with, given that they are in a completely different area geographically. Teams conduct market research, focusing on the needs and preferences of customers. Based on the information obtained, the product development team will then come up with a design that addresses those needs. Upon launch, the product will satisfy all customer needs and expectations.
Replacing Inhouse Interactions
Working remotely, communication without effective planning can be very difficult. Working inhouse, teams interact regularly, share ideas and progress, and work together to deliver the perfect IT product. However, everything is different with remote teams. But that does not mean we can’t create some of the same dynamics.
To replace daily standup and meetings that happen while working in an office, remote teams should reinvent these same strategies. With team members having their own timezones, everyone can have the freedom to set their own schedules. That being said, some form of the daily convening of the team is still important to ensure operations are transparent and everybody is included in the teams.
For and actual meeting every member of the team should be available to join an audio or video call. The schedule of the meeting is set in advance to let team member align their schedules with the meeting. The frequency of the meeting depends on the product manager’s ability to analyze his team’s individual and collective capabilities. Regular meetings unify the team and set immediate goals for each member to achieve before the next scheduled meeting. Managers and the leadership can answer any queries that members might have and address any blocks they might have faced during that time.
Using tools like Trello, Jira, and Slack you can develop a platform for your team to deliver asynchronous updates. Keeping in mind that some members might have a different time zone this technique is the most effective. This creates a platform for every member to update what they’re doing, did, or if they’re facing any roadblocks along the way. While this is not as effective as a meeting, it still helps you receive updates about everyone’s workday.
Regular Analysis of the Roadmap
A product roadmap holds as much importance, if not more, like other aspects of the development process. Remote teams work around the roadmap daily, so analyzing and reviewing the roadmap regularly is necessary. The managers should conduct this review including as many team members as possible, so everyone knows where they stand and how much effort they need to put in.
The road map is key to effectively building an excellent IT project. It aligns the products and the company’s objective into a bigger picture keeping all team members enthusiastic towards making it a success. Regularly reviewing the roadmap makes sure everyone is up-to-date with a version of the plan that the company is following.
Encouragement to Set Up a Proper Work Environment at Home
Working in offices we face a lot of distractions including co-workers causing distractions, other outside elements, etc. Working remotely from home makes distractions even more evident. You might have house chores piled up, your family might come and go often, the dog could use a walk, etc. Keeping the focus becomes even harder for your team.
A study suggests shows that when asked about the downsides of remote work, 49% of remote workers note that their biggest struggle is wellness-related. You should encourage your teams to set up a proper work environment for themselves. Showing up in meetings somewhat presentable can make all the difference. Creating a routine close to office work environments creates an environment that is better suited for every member’s train of thought. Working in a semi-professional environment helps the team to effectively follow the road map and move towards product completion according to sales pipelines.
Manage Remote Teams through Agile Methodologies
Remote teams must avoid falling into communication traps. The pitfalls take the process away from Agile development to a waterfall one. But, the availability of communication platforms like Slack, Jira, Skype, etc. makes communication around the world easier. Encouraging teams to maintain close communication is the key to upholding the Agile process on the remote teams.
Don’t Uphold the Plan Over Agility
IT products are bound to have changing requirements throughout the process. We emphasized the importance of reviewing the plan regularly because remote teams tend to lag behind and thus avoid evolving the solution when challenges or barriers arise. Hold your team accountable to submit a changeset to the source code control each time. Adding regular tests to the equation ensures that the IT product achieves the quality standards set in the beginning.
It is a known fact that agile teams focus on “just enough” documentation throughout the development process. But managing a remote team may mean more documentation. Like in-house teams, remote teams can’t quickly draw on a whiteboard and sort out complex problems. Testing and development teams working remotely are left guessing their way out of problems if proper documentation is not provided. Documentations can serve as the answers that the teams need.
No Strategy or remote communication tool can replace the importance of the product managers realizing their role in the successful management of the team to build excellent IT products. If they believe that the system they develop, the strategies they follow with the help of the tools provided by the organization will work, they will. A team needs a leader, a product manager in this case, to lead them to the finish line. The team as a whole must be vigilant. You need to ensure that everyone is on the same page. There’s no such thing as communicating excessively when working in remote teams. Try and make more opportunities to communicate because, in this scenario, Communication really is the key.
Novateus is a custom software development company that deals with the development of innovative solutions. We have years of experience working with both our offshore and in-house teams. If you need any help understanding anything or have a query please leave a query or contact us.