Whether nearshore or offshore, through in-house hires or through a capable partner, nearly all IT departments enhance their capabilities by engaging a remote team. Some of the most common reasons underlining the need for a distributed workforce are:
- Cost – rates for a blended delivery team are much lower than traditional onshore rates
- Extended Coverage – allows the work to continue off-hours (nights, weekends, vacations, holidays) without sacrificing a work-life balance for your onshore team
- Risk Mitigation – continuous coverage significantly raises the odds that small issues will be caught and corrected before they become big problems
- Scalability – easily add to your team during gaps in coverage or high-volume periods
Globalization has brought a world of resources to our fingertips. Innovations, talent and information previously out of reach are suddenly available with the click of a button. It’s made engineering complicated solutions not only possible, but delivering them easier.
It’s also made managing your team much, much harder.
As a manager, it’s your job to ensure that each member is properly utilized and performing well. In addition, you must be constantly aware of individual, sometimes competing, personalities and goals. This can be difficult when your team members are in the same spot – even sitting right next to each other! But with the literal expansion of the modern work environment, managers must be able to succeed with teams in different offices…and different time zones…and different countries.
Value Global consultants have invested countless hours in figuring out exactly how to ensure success with this “blended delivery model”. As a result, we’ve identified three crucial puzzles pieces that every successful distributed team needs: Compatibility, Communication and Ownership.
- Select a partner (not a vendor) with relevant industry experience, of a compatible size to your organization, and who comes with trusted references. Consider using one partner for multiple needs, which will minimize the initial learning curve and increase long-term collaboration.
- Evaluate and select team members in the same way that you would members of your own team – think of this partner as an extension of your organization and you’ll get the right people for your needs.
- Get to know your new team members! A video conference is a great way to make the introductions and being able to put a face to the e-mail address will make a huge difference.
- Take time upfront to train your new team and document all necessary procedures (code check-ins, unit tests, QA testing, communications, troubleshooting, escalation, etc.). Be available for them to ask questions and provide feedback, especially during the first few weeks of delivery.
- When you determine shift times, make sure the US-Remote shifts overlap to accommodate for any issues that require a collaborative effort or instant communication.
- Hold daily “standing” calls to ensure transparency and productivity. Consider creating a digital team portal where members can post comments, questions and thoughts throughout the day.
- Schedule monthly (at least, more often if schedules allows) service review and make adjustments based on feedback from both the US team and the remote team.
- For any application development projects, be sure to hold demos every 1-2 weeks to allow for timely adjustments and feedback.
- Identify a person responsible for remote delivery both onsite and at the remote location. If new responsibilities are needed, communicate these needs through the POCs to make sure the team has the bandwidth to deliver.
- Select a work management system with ticketing – use this to track assignments with estimates and due dates, as well as to document decisions.
- Maintain realistic expectations and adjust accordingly – a remote team can’t compete with the onsite resources who have an in-depth knowledge of your business, as well as direct access to business users and decision makers. However, with guidance and patience, this kind of business intelligence will increase exponentially over time.
We’ve applied these guidelines to project teams for anything from large implementations to micro-application development; we’ve consistently been able to deliver faster and more efficiently. Questions about our enterprise services and how your organization can benefit from blended teams? Contact us!