HOW TO

How to Build a Distributed Software Development Team: Tips and Tricks

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
March 24, 2022
HOW TO
How to Build a Distributed Software Development Team: Tips and Tricks
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
March 24, 2022
HOW TO
How to Build a Distributed Software Development Team: Tips and Tricks
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
March 24, 2022
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PM and BA at Aspirity
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How to build a perfect digital product? Of course, by hiring the best talents and uniting them in a well-functioning team. However, in 2022, gathering all the best professionals in one place to involve them in your project is a tough nut to crack. Today, most of the great and successful products are created by teams distributed around the world.

Thus, to see a development team located in your business HQ is rather unlikely. In other words, the on-premise scenario is no longer relevant.

So if you want your project to be efficient, easily manageable, and corresponding to the current realities, it's time to find out more about setting up a distributed software development team.

This post will explain how we at Aspirity cope with distributed team management. We will reveal what tips and tricks we apply to achieve communication effectiveness, high pace, and quality delivery.

What Competencies to Leave in Headquarters?

Today, it's not hard to imagine outsourcing most (or even all) functions and product development aspects. And yes, contractors may also hire vendors to speed up and improve certain processes.

We at Aspirity believe it's worth having all skills and competencies directly related to the product we develop in our HQ. Everything else can be outsourced if there is a person responsible for a particular aspect of work in the headquarters.

As we've already mentioned in our article about hiring a product manager for your project, we think it's better to have strategic product skills in-house. This also applies to anything else related to strategy and planning. It's worth dealing with these development aspects in the headquarters, while the realization can be outsourced, which is much more beneficial in many cases.

As an example, let's take a look at marketing. It's a good idea to keep ICP development, creating feedback from the customers and users, content plan, etc., in the HQ. The vendor can also help, but it's crucial to have a person who deeply understands the product specifics and the strategy, thanks to being inside the context in your in-house team.

This internal expertise is important because every single detail matters. A third-party agency isn't likely to achieve the necessary engagement level.

The same goes for product development. It's better to make the most important strategic technical decisions in-house, while the vendor can consult you and bring additional expertise from their side. Thus, having a CTO in your headquarters is highly beneficial even if you have no in-house software engineers.
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How to Manage a Distributed Software Development Team?

So, let's suppose you've decided to build a software development team leaving certain product and strategic expertise in-house.

Here comes another thing to address: how will you manage a distributed software development team consisting of nearshore or offshore professionals who might have never met each other offline?

Drawing on our experience, we've created a list of essential considerations.

Here's how to manage the workflow, establish efficient communication, and optimize technical processes when working with distributed engineering teams.

Schedule Meetings Only When Required

When it comes to distributed software development, it's hard to come up with a clear structure for the meetings. So they should occur only when necessary. At the start of the project, the meetings may take place once every two days, daily, or even twice a day. That's because there might be numerous questions to discuss.

However, when the project is already on track, the need for meetings occurs much less often, sometimes only once a month.

It's also important to understand that the calls shouldn't be a tool for communicating repetitive information. It is especially the case when the team members are located in significantly different time zones. It may be quite inefficient to attend a meeting early in the morning or late in the evening to provide a short report and listen to everyone else. Most of this information isn't vital and can be delivered another way.

Thus, senior and middle engineers will save their precious time and devote it to development, bringing the project much more benefit.

Instead of holding regular meetings through calls, your team can get in touch and share the news with an alternative communication messaging tool like Slack's thread. Thus, the meeting will take just a few minutes.
Here are a few ways to maintain effective communication without wasting time on regular calls:
Establish good communication inside the team. If your team members are constantly in touch with each other, there's no need for daily and weekly meetings.
On-demand calls. Hold the meetings only when necessary, without a mandatory schedule.
Conduct competent management. Get rid of unproductive discussions and meeting routines. The team members can discuss certain issues before the meeting to save the others' time.

Choose the Right Software

When choosing software for your project, don't think that popular or top-rated ones are a no-brainer. Prioritize the tools that match your team's specific needs and project requirements.

For instance, we at Aspirity prefer using Jira because it allows us to track workflow efficiency, flexibly link the tasks, and integrate with repositories. Although this project management tool has certain drawbacks, it perfectly suits our needs.

As for the messenger, it should be convenient for all team members who will use it quite often. Ensure that the messaging tool has the required features and supports important components of your workflow, such as message threads, streamlined file search, etc.

Your team's tool for calls and online meetings should also be available for every member. It's a great benefit if such a system provides meeting records since the team may have to return to certain points discussed earlier during the working process.

Another important system every distributed software development team will benefit from is a tool for consistent documentation maintenance. It's supposed to have convenient and flexible access settings that enable opening files in web format without having to install anything on a device.

Perhaps, your team will need more software depending on your project's specifics. The point is that it should be convenient, meet all the requirements, and make the team members' lives easier.

Have an Efficient Onboarding Process for the Team

Training and onboarding new members of your distributed software development team can be a challenging task to achieve. However, it's no more difficult than hiring new specialists to your in-house team and introducing them to the project's specifics and their tasks. Here are a few things you can do to streamline this process and join new participants painlessly.
Provide relevant documentation. It's very convenient to introduce the project to a new team member by providing them with all appropriate information documented beforehand. It will help avoid confusion and allow them to see the whole picture in no time.
Introduce internal processes. Explaining how everything works in your team to a newly-hired professional is crucial. Thus, they will understand the workflow and its specifics.
Ensure effective mentoring. Every new team member should have a mentor, especially in the early onboarding stages. This person will guide the newcomer and help them flawlessly adapt to the new environment. The hired employees can address all their questions and issues to their mentors. Such mentorship is often applied in the development agile method.

Make It a Result-driven Team

For the efficient work of an agile software development team, their comprehensive understanding of the project's business goals is vital. The team members should not just perform their functions but be fully immersed in the overall process.

For example, if the participants are coping with certain workflow aspects, they should understand the reasons, goals, milestones, and expected outcomes of the tasks they are working on.

Don't consider a waste of time explaining these project details to junior developers. On the contrary, if each team member has a perfect idea of its progress, they have more chances to make the right decisions and thus accelerate the business goals achievement.

Let's suppose your team is currently dealing with payment system integration. Suddenly, a minor mistake has occurred: the page layout that sends users to the payment system doesn't look appropriate on mobile phones. Fixing this problem is more difficult than it might have seemed. On top of that, you and your distributed team are located in different time zones, so they've faced this issue eight hours before your working day begins.

Here are two hypothetical reactions of your team to this situation:
1
In the morning, you're getting informed that an issue will take a few more days to be fixed.
2
You get a message that a problem has occurred, and the team decided to postpone the layout temporarily. Instead, they managed to simplify it, so the page doesn't look beautiful yet works. The problem will be fixed after the integration is completed, so the users can make payments as soon as possible.
The second reaction indicates that your distributed team is well-aware of your business goals and considers them when working on the project.
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Picking the Right Tech Stack for Distributed Software Development Teams

When building a distributed software development team, pay special attention to the choice of technology to develop your product. The selection of a tech stack normally depends on numerous factors like the project specifics, required features, expected release time, and more. Although a one-size-fits-all solution simply doesn't exist, consider the following points when making your decision.

Know Your Project Requirements

Ensure your tech stack corresponds to your special needs. It should be suitable for your project's scope and specific requirements. For example, a common CMS like WordPress may suit small projects without sophisticated features. Additional frameworks (Python, JS, etc.) could be required for more complex requirements. For a big project with advanced functions, you might turn to specifically designed technologies.

Consider Engineers' Expertise and Talent Pool

Your developers' skills and experience directly affect the choice of technology for your project. Your team should be well-aware of the framework and its specifics so that the workflow goes smoothly and efficiently. Thus, choosing a tech stack with a large developers' community is best.

Additionally, the technology should be future-proof. Ensure there will be enough available specialists later on: the talent shortage in IT is becoming quite a serious issue. It isn't easy to find good professionals, even for such popular programming languages as React Native and Node.js.

Keep Scalability in Mind

Even if your project is relatively small and you're not likely to reach millions of users right away, think of your product's growth perspectives. The ability to expand and withstand larger amounts of requests depends on your software scalability. That's why it's worth choosing the tech stack that will correspond to your app's potential future requirements. Depending on architecture and infrastructure solutions, this choice may vary.

Estimate the Timeline

Another aspect of software development that largely depends on the chosen technology is time to market. Whatever the planned release date is, proper tech solutions will allow your distributed team to work faster and provide timely results without addressing the quality of deliveries. You may consider Ruby's open-source libraries or third-party integrations to accelerate and streamline development.

Aim for Effective Maintenance

The chosen programming language impacts not only the development process. It's critically important after the product's launch, influencing the efficiency of software updates and maintenance. Select a framework with reusable codes to facilitate post-release processes. Also, pay special attention to the chosen architecture and its components, especially if your app should be high-performing and scalable.
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How Much Does It Cost to Set up a Fully-distributed Engineering Team?

The cost of building global development teams may vary due to numerous factors. It entirely depends on your project's specifics and business goals. So when hiring software developers, pay attention to the following aspects that directly affect the price.
The developers' location. The region of your software engineers significantly affects the cost. This is due to economic conditions, standard wages, taxes, and other local market features. The most popular destinations are North America, Eastern Europe, South America, Southeast Asia, etc.
Experience and skills. Of course, the more experienced the professionals, the more expensive their services are. Therefore, trying to find the cheapest option is not a good idea. The cheaper the option, the more compromises you will have to accept.
The product's complexity and tech stack. And finally, the product's complexity is one of the key factors for software development cost. Suppose you want to build an advanced product combining different frameworks and unique approaches. In that case, the price will accordingly be higher compared to a common project with a standard set of features.
Senior developer's average hourly rate

Aspirity is Your Software Dev Team Partner

We are a web development company with almost ten years of experience in the market. We've managed to gather a team of time-tested professionals who have proven their capabilities by working on various projects throughout this period.

Our main goal is to staff a team and adjust the processes so that you won't feel the difference between working with these remote specialists and the employees located in your own office. We spend a lot of time immersing ourselves in the project to understand the client's tasks and business goals. Also, we aim to fit ourselves into the client's team, understand the environment, and coordinate the working process. We speak the client's language and use the same communication tools to do this.

Our approaches and methods perfectly matched numerous projects. We are proud of our portfolio and our clients.

Shoreline is one of the brightest examples. It's a service that makes DevOps' lives easier thanks to multiple metrics, system health checks, remediations, and debug features.

We have been working on this product for more than two years as a distributed team from the US, Romania, and East Europe. We deal with different tasks processed in different countries and time zones. However, it doesn't prevent us from adhering to high-quality code and communication standards.

Find the Best Talents to Develop Your Product

To ensure your distributed software development team is efficient and result-driven, do your best to hire skilled specialists with relevant expertise. Use the tools and techniques that perfectly suit the project specifics and provide high-quality project management, communication, online meetings, documentation maintenance, and more.

Additionally, you may implement the agile program, establish good communication inside the team, and streamline the onboarding process for the newcomers.

Hopefully, our guide helped you better understand how to build a software development team for succeeding with your business goals.

However, if you still have questions, feel free to contact our team. Our experts will be happy to consult you in more detail. And if you are looking for a reliable tech partner to work on your project, we at Aspirity are ready to join. Our company has solid experience in design, software engineering, and business analytics. Get in touch, let's discuss your ideas!

FAQ

1
What Is a Distributed Software Development Team?
A distributed software development team comprises IT specialists who work remotely, often in different locations and workspaces outside your headquarters. Such teams use online collaboration and communication tools to be in constant touch and provide efficient deliverables. Very often, such a model can complement your in-house team's expertise.
2
Any Advantages of Distributed Software Development?
SaaS UX design best practices are the most efficient solutions to create this type of product. To name a few, these are simplified sign-up, streamlined onboarding process, improved support systems, etc. SaaS interface design best practices include readable fonts, two-color palettes, intuitiveness, etc.
3
What Are the Main Success Factors for Your Global Software Development Team to Work Effectively?
You can increase your chances of succeeding with your business goals by knowing how to manage a distributed software development team. Here are a few best practices:
  • Schedule meetings only when necessary.
  • Use project management, communication, and documentation maintenance software that works best for your team.
  • Streamline the onboarding process for newly-hired specialists.
  • Establish effective collaboration inside the team.
  • Choose the tech stack that perfectly suits your project requirements.
  • Turn to software development agile methodology.
PM and BA at Aspirity
I've been working as a PM and BA at Aspirity for more than 2,5 years. I make sure that our customers receive exactly what they expect without spending their time managing the team.
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