Factors for Managing Distributed Teams in Software Development#Dedicated Teams November 25th, 2020
With distributed teams or remote teams, and for a good reason, corporations have increasingly progressed towards this. Many businesses are buckling the conventional business models for productivity and smart business where all their workers move to a physics office regularly. When the pandemic began, several organizations were forced to establish dispersed teams to survive out of utter necessity. Other businesses that used this approach have also changed their business models to fulfil their current needs.
According to MIT research, in the United States, 50% of those employed before the pandemic are doing their jobs distantly compared to just 15% before the health crisis. Companies must be agile to survive and compete, which can be difficult.
The pandemic, challenge in the quest for and retention of skills and technological advances have produced a perfect storm that keeps the world’s leaders wondering at night if we should continue to incur the expenses of offices, rentals, facilities, cleaning, equipment, and office furniture. The new standard is being distributed by teams.
However, there are many challenges in managing distributed teams in software development. This article will describe these potential challenges and how to overcome them effectively.
What do mean by Distributed teams?
The distributed teams are made up of two or more workers doing their job from various locations. Team members do not share the same work area, and in central geographical regions, they are not usually organized. They could work in multiple cities or even countries. Some team members work in the workplace, and others do at home. Some team members may also be dispersed.
The distributed teams consist of workers that operate remotely from all over the world and not centrally at a single office. It means that the operating manager or engineering director could work and live in Nashville, but her team members do their job from London, Detroit, Kansas City, and San Francisco.
Roadblocks in the way of distributed teams and effective ways to overcome them
Time mismatch due to multiple time zones Globally dispersed teams typically have people in different time zones. This implies a time overlap for productive meetings, especially for scattered groups far from each other in several time zones. Moreover, there is also a psychological side to the time zone mismatch. The team members can be based in various locations worldwide and hence across multiple time zones while managing a distributed team. This challenge is also crucial if the implementation is delayed and delayed.
Solutions: Using software such as Google Calendar and Outlook, each member can set automatic meeting times. In this case, an additional practical tool is the Every Time Zone. The calendar and meeting times dependent on the availability of each team member are also recommended. A great tip for us is that we always schedule a few minutes of casual talk to relax and develop confidence before the official part of the meetings.
Lack of one-on-one conversations
Whatever the teams work on, contact with each other is the most critical practice in a healthy working environment. It helps everyone be on the same page and follow the assignments, regardless of whether they are in the same position. But the absence of real in-person contact requires the work of dispersed teams. This can make experiencing the energy challenge, read feelings, and the language of the body difficult. This can lead to incomprehension, a lack of confidence, and even a lack of empathy in extreme cases, thus adversely affecting productivity.
Solutions: We will also strongly support a work arrangement that specifies clearly and efficiently team contact procedures. Try arranging a visit or attending a conference together. This strengthens the bond. It is essential to use many useful teamwork tools to mitigate the lack of face-to-face contact. Suppose it is immediate discussions, audio or video. All media should be built for unpredictable conversations and diverse tastes. Teams will receive daily reports, suggestions, and assistance if appropriate. Slack, Skype, Zoom, and MeetinVR are some of the helpful apps the companies will benefit from.
Challenge of cultural disparity
While cultural diversity is a valuable advantage for the project, it also leads to language and working culture problems. More fluent speakers in teams are more likely to speak and take the lead in thought. Due to your remote staff who are not working every day in the same physical environment, it can be challenging to make them feel as though they are part of the current society. You need to do more and invest in culture.
Solutions: Team leaders need to consider and inspire people with little faith to speak in the meetings. Another way to minimize these gaps is to make sure that written proof of project activities exists. More introverted team members are also allowed to express thoughts. Turning the conventional “come to the HQ model” by team members from the head office to visit satellite offices for activities.
To chat about activities that take place outside of the workplace in the first 10 minutes of meetings. It is an excellent way to build trust and deeper relationships to check how the individuals on your team operate. Finally, it takes a moment for everyone to lay their hair down once in a while. Emoji reactions will help people communicate, and the various platforms you create can help your team and your organization grow their culture further.
One of the most significant challenges of managing a dispersed team is to ensure that all workers complete the business on schedule effectively and meet the organization’s expectations. Some remote team members could not use their time wisely without day-to-day monitoring in a dispersed work environment. Furthermore, inadequate communication, insufficient measurable targets, and accountability problems will affect your team’s effectiveness. Since workers cannot be seen in their workplaces, there is little accountability and a lack of confidence among team members.
Solutions: Try using a Time Tracker like the Timing app to help the workers effectively monitor their working time and increase working transparency. Timing analyses machine operations and produces insights into how time is spent studying them. It’s also possible to export the data from the app into invoices. In 2015, Buffer, an organization that creates resources for social media, moved to the remote. They have developed several best practices to improve their work process transparency. Buffer, for example, leaves sales, spending for consumers, venture capital funding, and even wages for workers entirely accessible. This method helps prevent hypotheses and gossip concerning the condition of the organization. Finally, the Square e-commerce organization conducts weekly “town hall” meetings and then gives all staff minutes of discussion.
Less efficient coordination and implementation of projects
The less effective management and execution of projects is another obstacle for the activity of a distributed team. It may be caused by the surroundings of the team members or different disturbances at various sites. Regardless of the reasons behind this, the lack of concentration, less productive work, and therefore unnecessary delay or postponement of project completion could be costly for team members.
Solutions: Therefore, the avoidance of such a situation is minimal. First of all, team members should create timeframes to assess their success and achieve their goals. To do just that, there are many useful resources like Time Doctor and Toggl. Another way to keep dispersed teams efficient is to create clear goals for the position and review progress periodically. Besides, regular scrum meetings are popular to encourage efficiency, openness, and cooperation. Every day the team has an informal group check-in, which holds everyone responsible for their regular activities and continuing projects on the same page.
Issues of product delivery
The demand delivery process can be complicated if the design/requirements team is dispersed. This is because the teams have broad and challenging to read design requirements. The distributed team members can lose track of designs and contexts if features and functions are distributed through a channel.
Solutions: The specifications can be examined and sent as storyboards to the convenient story-sized parts, and therefore the issue of distribution of requirements for dispersed teams can be resolved.
Challenge of connectivity in teams
Business culture and employee links suffer first and foremost in remote teams. Because there is no contact with each other, it is a challenge to share information and immerse workers in its atmosphere.
Solutions: Consider these best practices to prevent the scenario where the team members feel out of touch:
Build a centralized information foundation. Maintain all required tools, legal documentation, and workflows in hand to prevent remote workers from starting long talks and waiting for assistance if necessary, and from quickly becoming aware of internal regulations and customs.
Build rituals that bring people together. Traditions build a sense of community and an important event.
Motivate workers to work together. “Us vs. Them” is popular with remote teams, so you need to keep an eye on good teamwork. You have to work together. Encourage the team members to seek support, share their concerns, and take action as they see fit.
Request feedback. Surveys and feedback forms allow you to determine your employees’ levels of engagement and emotional status. Do not forget to conduct the most recommended tasks after receiving feedback, so your team knows you are involved.
Besides the challenges mentioned earlier in managing distributed teams, lack of trust is also a significant challenge. It would not be easy to check that members in the remote group are working well. As the distributed team members belong to different geographical locations and do their jobs from hometowns, it becomes challenging for managers to trust their employees. Although many research reports suggest that remote team members’ effectiveness is quite convincing, many managers are sceptical about their employees. They believe that small team members do their work when left to their own devices.
Solution: To boost trust in the remote team, the manager should define the proper guidelines in a written form and in a straightforward fashion to work effectively. These instructions may contain which meetings every team participant should attend, the time frame to respond to problems, and how many hours every team member must be online other particular expectations.
Difficulty in keeping track of the tasks
Another issue related to distributed teams for software development is that it becomes complicated to maintain the track record of all the tasks and determine an individual project’s progress. As team members are distributed worldwide and lack effective communication, keeping all the remote members of the tea on the same page arises.
Solution: Thus, the remote teams must promptly utilize the tools to promptly keep the track record of all the tasks and project progress. In this way, it will be convenient to predict the risks and issues that could hamper the project’s realization. Project management tools must be part and parcel of the distributed teams.
Lack of supervision
In a dispersed team, managers cannot walk to see how employees work or respond to questions opportunistically, as the manager travels around the workplace. A significant problem can lie in the email box of a supervisor as she watches her children. Both supervisors and supervised supervisors will worry that their needs are not met. Written correspondence is much easier to misunderstand and much less rich in email, text, or talk than face-to-face experiences. We are all aware that three or four emails may be needed to explain what a few minutes in a meeting will take.
Solution: For software development teams, one countermeasure is to appoint partners to communicate periodically and help others solve their problems. Using wikis also to track questions and responses. One software company used a Phonebook app to store and arrange contacts according to the company’s organizational chart.
Software teams working together and seeing each other every day cannot be replaced. But the best practices, taken together and regularly done, mentioned above, will strengthen your distributed teams. We are in a new world of bravery. Nobody’s got all the replies. The study, best practices, and best technologies are still evolving for distributed teams. However, the best information available suggests, if businesses implement some steps, that remote teamwork will improve. Some essential steps, like communicating more particularly at short one-to-one meetings, creating a strategy paper, and taking every chance to enhance companies’ culture, are well in this regard. Besides, checking the map at least once a month, creating social contact opportunities, and utilizing communication technologies to minimize zoom fatigue will help manage remote teams. These activities in the playbook will maintain the efficiency gains that many companies have achieved over the long term.
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