How to manage a software development team in remote working, is one of the most sought-after questions in 2022, and a question you should consider before you hire remote developers. But before, we address this question, let’s establish the significance of this question.
Our workspace setup and work culture practices have changed dramatically since 2020. With the pandemic sweeping in, remote working and adoption of remote team management tools—have become a norm.
Although many expected that the remote working culture would fizz out once we exit the pandemic—statistics in 2022 say otherwise.
- 85% of managers want to hire remote developers and believe that remote working will be the new norm.
- 74% of workers say that they are less likely to leave the company if they get the option to work remotely!
- 77% of remote workers believe remote working to be more productive.
- The average annual income of remote workers is $4000 higher than the other workers.
- 56% of global companies are already fully remote or in a hybrid model.
With all the tools and team management techniques available to support remote working and weed out its challenges, it only makes sense that remote working is the future—irrespective of a global health crisis. So if you are trying to wait out the remote working phase and skip learning remote team management processes—you are going to be disappointed!
In 2022 if you are wondering how to manage a software development team remotely—you definitely need to look for the best team management techniques and remote team management tools at your disposal.
Why is managing a software development team remotely, difficult?
Software development team management is challenging when working remotely, particularly because of the individuality of your remote developers. A remote developer is a skilled person, with his/her own unique ideas, perceptions, and motivations. Thus, when managing a team of developers, a major challenge is to get them to oblige to certain company standardized processes while leaving sufficient room to introduce work process flexibility.
If you need to drive a team of developers towards a singular objective, you need to be aware of the fundamental challenges you face when managing a software development team:
Unique ideas and perceptions:
The ability to think critically is the most prized trait for a team of remote developers. A trait that also nurtures the ability to come up with unique development ideas and possess unique perceptions. Now, these qualities are great soft skills that help improve the quality of work, but they come with a downside as well. Too many unique ideas and perceptions will complicate the development process. At some point, you will need to convince each remote developer to stay put on his/her unique ideas and start working with the ones preferred by the management.
Developers have their own preferred working methods, development tools, and best practices:
Every company depending on its requirements, resources, and clientele, will have a fixed set of working methods, development tools, and best practices. The issue here is, like the company, your developers will also have their own preferences. Getting your remote developers accustomed to the company processes, without affecting their work quality is a major challenge of software development team management.
Different developers, different shortcomings:
Just like any employee, when you hire remote developers they come with their own shortcomings—in their soft skills and development skills. As a remote manager, it will be your responsibility to work on and eliminate their shortcomings in the long run. In the short run, it will be up to you to cleverly manage their tasks such that their shortcomings don't affect the product quality.
Different developers, different workload thresholds:
Some people are simply more resilient and motivated than others. This means each remote developer will have varying abilities to deal with the workload. As a manager, you will need to analyze the workload ability of different developers and accordingly manage their tasks.
Different developers, different motivations:
Last but not the least, different people are driven by different wants, goals, and purposes. And this is probably the biggest challenge for remote managers. With different remote developers needing different motivators, you cannot have a general motivator template to cater to all. Neither can you afford too many motivators—that will be a huge blow on the company's finances. As a manager, you will have to innovate enough to cater to the maximum variety of motivation needs, whilst employing the minimum resources.
Different strategies to manage remote development teams. And how can Sup help you with it?
So in remote working, how do you tackle the above challenges and remote management in general. Let's evaluate 10 strategies that help you manage remote development teams, and tips on how to use Sup to implement each strategy (or at least an aspect of it.)
Sup is a free task management tool for Slack, with features to automate team management—like automated stand ups, follow-ups, reporting, mood tracking, and more.
1. Don't underestimate stand ups
Stand up meetings are the bread and butter of managers; one of the traditional team management techniques. They give you a critical insight into daily task progress. Conduct survey-based stand ups to save time, but formulate a strong stand up agenda that covers all important issues.
Sup is the complete stand up bot
Sup is primarily a stand up automation bot for Slack. With Sup you can easily conduct survey-based daily stand ups from Slack. You can also customize and write any number of stand up questions on Sup to create an effective daily Stand up agenda.
2. Conduct sprint check-ins
Sprint check-ins are quick booster meetings throughout the day. They ensure that the task progress is headed in the right direction. When managing a software development team, use sprint check-ins to evaluate the Work-In-Progress.
Schedule multiple sprint check-ins with Sup
You can use Sup to conduct multiple follow-ups or sprint check-ins throughout the day. With Sup you can customize the sprint check-in survey questions to address any issue you want. And, you can even set multiple reminders for your surveys to ensure your remote developers do not forget to respond.
3. Create a strong daily stand up and sprint check-in agenda
When addressing software development team management, always have your agenda sorted. As a manager, you need to learn to ask all the right questions. You can use the Stand ups and follow-ups to address any number and type of issues you need. Collect information on task details, workload, task obstacles, workspace/work process difficulties, team mood, and more.
Create question templates on Sup
Successful remote team management tools need to provide flexibility with their features—And Sup does precisely so! On Sup you can add any number of questions to your surveys. This means, no matter how many issues you need to address—Sup can handle it! The questions are also customizable—which means you can write up questions very specific to your team. And lastly, you can save your questions as a template, and use it to create different sprint check-ins/stand ups for different teams.
4. Don't forget to analyze your stand ups and sprint check-ins
When you manage remote development teams, you will find your analytical abilities to be your best ally. As a manager, you must put your keen and penetrating mind to the task of analyzing the collected information for insights. Insights that will help you take managerial actions like task distribution & allocation, and sprint management.
Reporting features of Sup
One of the biggest advantages of survey-based digital stand ups over traditional ones—is their ability to generate raw data. And, if you are to successfully automate your team management—you will need to analyze the raw data by compiling them into spreadsheet reports. Sup stores the responses submitted, by every single remote developer, as data. Which can be later compiled and exported into CSV reports.
5. Accommodate time zone differences
Remote working opens up the global talent pool at the disposal of recruiters. Thus a global workforce is almost synonymous with remote working. But the idea of a global workforce also puts you at risk of new software development team management challenges. In this case, the issue of timezone differences. So if you are planning to hire remote developers globally —always stay prepared to tackle timezone differences.
Sup is timezone aware
Sup, by default, is designed to consider all the existing timezone settings—making it the perfect tool to automate team management. This means all you need to do is schedule your stand ups and follow-ups. After that Sup will automate the stand ups/follow-ups, automate survey reminders, and even automatically take into account the timezone settings of your remote team of developers.
6. Support an agile workflow
If you want your team of developers to give their best output, it is best not to restrict their workflow too much. Give them the freedom to switch between tasks, or even change tasks after the stand up has been submitted. Now, this flexibility is great for developers but can be a management nightmare. When too many Developers switch tasks, tracking the changes can be challenging. This is where Sup can help managers.
Response editing with Sup
Effective remote team management tools always make it their priority to support an agile workflow; just like Sup does! Sup allows users to access all previous survey responses, edit them, and update them. This means developers can switch between tasks as many times as they need to, and accordingly edit & update their responses. With Sup, managers won't have to put extra effort into separately tracking workflow changes.
7. Eliminate communication gaps.
In remote working, chances of communication gaps are much higher. And thus, eliminating communication gaps should be a top priority of any remote manager. When working in a team everyone needs to follow the same work process and work in sync with each other. For this to happen there must be sufficient transparency in the work environment.
Using Sup for transparency
You can use Sup to conduct quick surveys on Slack. Surveys that can be related to tasks or any other management queries. As employees respond to the surveys, Sup will post the responses in the Slack channels, visible to all team members.
8. Manage timesheets.
Meeting deadlines can also be a challenge for some in remote working. This is why, as a manager, you will need to lay extra emphasis on Project time management. And when it comes to project time management, you must consider maintaining timesheets.
Build timesheets with Sup
Conduct follow-ups, using Sup, to log the work time of your developers. Sup can then be used to build timesheet reports from the logged work time.
9. Centralized tool usage
In remote working, you will need to heavily rely on management tools and software. However, it is hard to find a single platform that caters to all management requirements. On the other hand, using too many tools can be confusing for your developers, as well as sloppy and time-consuming. This is why you need to use a single central software that can integrate with multiple platforms catering to the different management needs of your organization.
Sup integrates with Slack
Slack is a good example of a corporate communications platform that integrates with multiple other management platforms. For example, Slack can integrate with JIRA for project management. And Sup can integrate with Slack for your agile scrum ceremonies. With just a few integrations on Slack, you can turn Slack into the central platform to manage your entire remote team.
10. Motivate when needed
A team's productivity is almost always directly related to their morale. As a manager, it falls upon you to always keep track of your team's mood. And whenever you find your average team mood falling below normal, know that it's time to introduce motivators and incentives.
Mood tracking with Sup
Sup has the feature to turn on mood tracking on surveys. Sup will record all the mood tracking responses and compile them into graphical stats to display your team's overall mood status. Sup is smart enough to keep all individual mood responses anonymous, to encourage honest responses.
Note that there are a few things you can consider to ease management responsibilities in general.
- When starting new projects, hold a common discussion with everyone on the team–for project briefing. Miscommunications within team members take hold when you separately brief different team members. If needed, hold separate specific briefings later.
- Ensure every task has a clear iteration of requirements, definitions, and instructions.
- Always clearly specify deadlines and task estimates.
- Give a thorough demonstration of all the project management, workspace communication, and task tracking tools you use.
- Maintain sufficient tutorial/support resources for development tools, management tools, and for specific-tasks. Resources that developers can access for doubt clearance if in case superiors are unavailable immediately.
- Never fail to conduct monthly feedback calls. And, thoroughly analyze the feedback calls to identify the different motivators for different developers.
There is one thing you must remember as a manager. It is you who your team will keep turning to for advice, solutions, and doubt clearance; hence self-preparation is critical for a successful manager.
- Anubhav De