5 Things to Consider when Working with a Remote Team

In today’s digital landscape it doesn’t matter if you’re a first-time entrepreneur, mature startup, SME, or corporate, the need for external tech resources never really goes away. Growth demands it. Hiring tech personnel can be an expensive and lengthy process, and so as more companies look outward in search of manpower the IT outsourcing market is getting noisier and noisier, but with a little due diligence, you can cut through the noise and find the right team to build your digital product. No mistakes. No snowballing costs. Just quality tech partnerships.

Here are a few things we wish we’d known when we were assessing prospective tech collaborators:

Quality Is a Primordial Requisite

Judging the quality of a future partner’s work can only be done by assessing their previous results, and accurately judging quality is difficult when ‘quality’ can be perceived differently by different people.

So, let’s simplify the concept of quality.

When it comes to digital product development, quality is:

  • Bug-free, well-documented and maintainable code that’s well anchored in the current standards and practices.
  • A predictable, iterative development process that guarantees high efficiency and productivity.
  • Open inter-team communication that ensures that messages get across despite the lengthy documentation that accompanies each step of the process.

Tech partners who are not able to satisfy these three conditions should be given a wide berth, unless the company wants to spend time and resources until the outsourced team reaches full maturity and productivity, but who has time for that?

The Remote Team Needs to Be a Match

Cohesion and a positive, results-centric atmosphere are crucial for a good start and efficient collaboration. Making ends meet is a two-way street and when the two teams have strong common values, obstacles are easily surmounted.

Compatibility is a matter of both spirit and performance.

Team unity is a big plus for the remote team. A close-knit structure is by its nature an efficient one, and solving problems can be done quickly with a good deal of creativity.

Since we are dealing with two different entities, having them teamed up with good prospects also requires that they have organizational cultures that are in harmony. From methodologies to work ethics, to business etiquette, the two teams must be in sync. If one partner prefers Agile while the other favors Waterfall, things may stall early.

Language and culture may be a bigger problem than time-zone difference. Being fluent in English is not mandatory when writing code, but being good at communicating verbally is a major boon during meetings, especially when outlining new ideas.

Additionally, differences in culture may prevent members of outsourced teams from feeling fully involved and this can negatively affect the relationship between the teams, impacting the product too. That’s why nearshoring is often preferred by some organizations who just want to make sure cultural differences are not jeopardizing the collaboration.

When team members are empowered, they showcase more disciplined autonomy by taking responsibility, being active, and fully committed. The entire context and the outcomes of both individual and group actions will become “internalized” as the team feels like it’s “their” battle and they have a big role to play. Personal investment means rampant motivation. Utilize it.

Adequate Experience Should Always Be Used When Differentiating Partners

Theoretical knowledge is good to have, but when developing digital products that need to attract investors, it’s the practical skills that do the talking.

Nothing builds trust like knowledge and experience, especially when they come as a pair.

Don’t take it personally if your current team doesn’t seem to be able to rise to perfection — nobody is perfect. Not every remote team can do everything the organization requires perfectly. That’s why companies will move onto new collaborators or even enlist multiple remote teams that complement each other’s work.

It’s all a game of expectations vs. reality, and trust. Uncharted territory may be discovered as the development progresses, but when both parties are open and proactive there will be significantly less digital skeletons in the closet.

Using the Right Technologies Can Mitigate Some Risks

New technologies often carry the promise of solving problems in a shorter timeframe, with a more fluid and predictable workflow. Considering how important it is for outsourcing partners to deliver on time, it might prove very hard to resist the temptation of working exclusively with the newest tools of the trade. Technologies not comprehensively tested should be avoided and can be easily done so.

Not only do the tools used for development matter, but so do the ones required for communicating. Videoconferencing tools such as appear.in, Join.me, and ClickMeeting can make any distance seem inconsequential. On the other hand, project management software in the vein of JIRA, Github, Trello, HipChat, Asana and Jenkins can ensure that the organization and the contractor are always on the same page.

Costs vs Added Value Can Also Set Outsourcers Apart

Cost savings represent one of the main reasons companies from all industries decide to outsource a part of their services, and while this might make perfect sense financially, efficiency also needs to be taken into account. Even when these two metrics are “in the green,” businesses shouldn’t rely only on them to measure the success of the partnership and of the resulting product.

It often takes falling into the ‘low cost trap’ to realize that cutting costs too much might actually involve delays, bugs, and an overall poor quality. At this point, companies should check the partner’s portfolio and even get in touch with some of the previous clients to get an idea of how the collaboration could go. A proven track record should act as a warranty that the partner will indeed provide the expected results. Due diligence stops your development costing far more than you’d anticipated when starting the project.

Find a Reliable Tech Partner Through Outsharing

Unlike outsourcing, which most of the time gets simplified to finding an external provider that can cut down the costs while slightly speeding up the delivery of a product or service, outsharing is more of a mindset. The concept refers to finding a reliable partner that not only respects the above criteria but is also on the same page with the main company and even strives towards a common goal. From temporary relocation to permanent communication, an outsharing partner covers all the bases and can add a lot more value to the project by getting involved pro-actively.

Simply put, outsourcing collaborations are tactical partnerships where the goal is to find a way of developing a digital product with a remote team. At the other end of the spectrum is a new concept called outsharing.

As opposed to hiring “overseas muscle” to get the job done faster and cheaper, outsharing involves long-term strategic partnerships where businesses combine assets to find the best way of achieving the common goal.

This new paradigm integrates involvement at a deeper level from both the organization and the remote team that is now no longer a group of hired guns to solve a task, but an active partner with a stronger voice in the development process.

About Digital Knights

Digital Knights provide a reliable, transparent, and personal platform for connecting startups and businesses with proven tech resources.

If you’re building a digital product, need resources to stimulate growth, or are spearheading a corporate innovation project — get in touch. We will find you the right team.

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