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How to Ensure Communication and Collaboration with Remote Development Teams

April 28, 2023 • 207 Views • 13 min read

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Bohdan Vasylkiv


Regardless of the field, you work in, communication and collaboration are undoubtedly essential aspects, which will definitely impact the efficiency of the working team and the final results. Frankly speaking, when it comes to working within a team, making a collaborative and communicative environment might be a tricky task. This is an especially difficult job in cases when instead of having in-house developers, you decided to choose a dedicated team.

Clearly, choosing between in-house or outsourced teams has a lot of different points of view. One of the major advantages of having on-premises developers is the ability to directly interact with them, which makes it easier to manage your developers, and creates a more communication-friendly environment. But is it possible to achieve the same high collaboration results, when you are dealing with outsourced developers? Is remote team communication a real deal-breaker, or rather a well-spread misjudgment?

Remote Team Collaboration and Working Process

Undoubtedly, in any case, no matter which software project development approach you have chosen, you will eventually end up, communicating with your developers. Outsourcing is about delegating tasks, that need to be done, yet keeping up with the process.

Of course, you might have just a startup idea and decide to outsource all the technical aspects, having no previous development plans or agreed tech stack. Still, even in such an unrealistic case, the client will have to keep contacting the team regularly in order to understand at least the recent progress of the development, whether the team is meeting all the requirements and schedule, or having any extra questions.

Thus, there is no need to even consider such a scenario, when the client won’t anyhow communicate with the software engineers during the development. Instead, let’s consider what communication technics are used to manage the development team.

Types of Team Communication

Surprisingly, there is a wide range of possible collaboration types. Mainly, they are defined by their nature into internal and external, as well as individual or group communications. The approximate list of these types looks like this:

  • Internal communication, which is usually used within a single team. To make it simple, this type is a common approach when you have a full-fledged development team, which includes various niche-experienced developers, who are experts in a specific field. Therefore, if any member of such a group will have any questions, they will get in touch with other participants in order to find the answers to these questions. Additionally, communication and collaboration within a single company can also be considered internal.

  • External collaboration, which is opposite to the previous type, means that the collaboration takes place with other people, who do not belong to the team or remote company. It may include sharing the experience with outsiders on the Internet, or even collaborating with third-party organizations, which is a common practice, used to gather the feedback of users. Hiring a dedicated team, as well as team extension services are also an example of external collaboration.

Frankly speaking, the rest recognized effective collaboration types are mainly subtypes of the foregoing two. Among them, it is possible to distinguish cross-department, cross-team, or virtual collaboration.

However, the foregoing is rather a general conception, than actual remote team collaboration tools and communication methods. Still, most of the previously mentioned communication types are combined and used during any software project development.

Talking about how to collaborate effectively if your team is remote it is worth considering a few major steps, which help to define the terms and ways of communicating.

How to Manage Offshore Development Team?

There are two main approaches to doing so. The first one - is to hire a team of developers, and assign an in-house project manager to the team. As a result, you will always have a confident person, who will be responsible for all the communication and interaction activities, as well as will manage the development team. In other words, you will have an intermediary between you and the team, who is experienced enough, is aware of the company policies and the goals of the project, and has group communication skills.

The second way includes the same step, yet contrary to the on-premises PM, you will hire an outsourced project manager, who is going to work on the side of the team. The rest aspects are very similar to the first approach.

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However, despite this resemblance between both approaches, they are driven by a completely different logic. To rephrase it, depending on the location of your PM, the communication priorities change. An in-house team manager is more about making client awareness a priority, giving them direct and immediate access to the manager, and allowing them to keep informed as soon as possible. Yet, the flip side of such a decision is that your project manager will lack remote team communication with the development team, mainly having a routine and scheduled communication.

Clearly, the situation is totally opposite in the case, when your manager is outsourced and works with its team. As a result, the remote team collaboration with the PM will be extremely high on the internal level, yet might result in scheduling the manager-client communication.

How to Collaborate Effectively if Your Team Is Remote?

Judging from our experience, the best way to achieve the best possible results and efficiently manage the development team - is to choose outsourced Project Management services. For instance, our outsourced software development process that works automatically includes a project manager as a part of a dedicated team. This allows to ensure a high level of internal communication and improves group communication skills, giving more space for effective communication between team members and the manager and with each other. Additionally, an easy-reachable manager increases the pace of work, being able to answer project-related questions or issues right away.

Eventually, it is up to you to decide, how to manage the development team, yet we encourage you to consider the outsourced project management tools and services. Nevertheless, there are a few ways how to improve the level of remote team collaboration and create a comfortable remote work environment for communication. Most of these tricks and approaches are mainly well-spread remote team communication practices at the same time.

Virtual team communication tools

Clearly, this type of software plays a crucial role in any project, no matter whether it is a remote or on-premises team. Therefore, the first aspect worth considering - is choosing the right virtual team communication tools and applications.

Actually, there are numerous software solutions, which were designed to manage the development team, track the progress of the project, and usually propose built-in messaging, calls, and other asynchronous communication features. They are commonly referred to as agile tools, yet most of them are often used in terms of plan-driven development approaches as well. Among such remote communication applications for software developers, we can name Notion, Asana, Jira, Slack, or other digital tools for team meetings. Yet, the list is not final and can include countless other apps, the foregoing are simply the most popular choices in the IT industry.

Clear Documentation

Apart from having a way of communicating with your remote team, it is worth preparing a guidebook, with at least brief documentation, so that your entire team always had access to the Frequently Asked Question, saving the time of PM, and making it easier to find needed resources in no time. Additionally, it is a very convenient way for onboarding or project transferring, allowing the newcomers or other development teams to faster learn all the needed information, related to the project.

Create a Communication Environment

Additionally, it is worth setting up a remote environment for communication. Clearly, having various ways of communicating on-demand services like chats is an important feature. Yet, try to avoid chaos by setting some discipline and communication routine.

For instance, try to schedule your remote meetings, devoting special hours to them. One of the most popular practices to manage an offshore development team is setting regular meetings at the beginning of the working day and at the end. As a result, your remote team will be able to keep up with the rest, know the current progress and tasks to be done for today, and share their experience with the rest of the group when needed. Finally, scheduling makes it easier for the project managers to track and sum up the progress, keeping the clients informed of day-by-day progress, asking for their opinion, and implementing changes during the development.

Our Experience in Development Team Management

As was said before, we strongly believe in the efficiency of having an outsourced project manager. Judging from our case studies, it significantly increases the level of communication and improves the remote team management process.

However, we also understand the needs and requirements of our clients, being flexible in such services. Thus, despite having a working plan for how to manage an offshore development team, we can implement changes to meet our client's needs and achieve the best possible remote collaboration experience. As a result, we have different communication approaches within each software project, we are working on.

For example, in some cases, we are using group chats and weekly virtual meetings, when every member of the project takes part, having direct access to the client, and being able to share their thoughts and opinions on the ongoing project. Alternatively, sometimes all the team-client communication is limited to one-on-one meetings with the manager and client if they don’t have much time or want their privacy to be respected.

Anyway, when it comes to remote team communication practices, it is worth making the most convenient terms, so that everyone would feel comfortable enough. In case, you are interested in trying out our approach or have any ideas, worth sharing, you can always contact us.

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What are some tools I can use for remote communication and collaboration?

There are many tools available for remote communication and collaboration, including video conferencing software like Zoom and Google Meets, messaging and collaboration platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams, and project management tools like Asana and Trello. Choose the tools that work best for your team and project.

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How can I ensure remote development teams stay engaged and motivated?

How can I manage cultural differences with remote development teams?

How can I address conflicts or issues that arise with remote development teams?

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