Effective Management of Remote & Distributed Software Engineers
Over 90% of software development jobs can be accomplished remotely. In this post we go over the best practices of making it possible.
In the wake of the pandemic, more and more software developers started to work from home. Many companies found that this approach was so effective that many teams are now running distributed development i.e. having employees located in different places.
If you are new to the world of managing distributed software engineers, then you do need to be aware that the management side of things is going to be quite challenging. It is going to be different from managing employees in an office. This is why we want to share with you a few tips and tricks that can really help to boost management and ensure that your software engineers can deliver the results that you need.
Tips & Tricks for Effectively Managing International and Distributed Software Engineers
We won’t lie to you. Managing your distributed software engineers is going to be tough. You could hire the best engineers in the world, but having people scattered all over still makes things a little bit more difficult. We are hoping that the following tips can help you out.
Hire the Best Staff
Not everybody is suited to remote work. Because distributed software development makes individual oversight of employees quite difficult, management does need to ensure that they hire the best staff. Preferably, they would hire somebody with experience in remote development. However, anybody that clearly shows the ability to work independently would work.
It is ever so important that management consistently states what their expectations are. These need to be realistic expectations. Distributed software development is much more laid-back than traditional software development. It provides employees with the ability to work at their own pace. This does help them to become a little bit more productive. However, employers will still need to ensure that work is complete in a timely manner. Expectations could be as simple as regularly attending meetings, or producing a certain amount of code or bug fixes each week. Each employee should be driving that business forward.
Regular communication is important for running distributed development. This allows management to communicate their expectations. It allows staff to communicate any issues that they may have, or even seek help from other employees.
You shouldn’t always have communication related to business, though. Many of the companies that have distributed development will spend a lot of time cultivating social relationships. It helps employees to become happier, particularly since they will not be interacting with people daily. Regular communication boosts morale.
Change to a Results-Focused Business
Distributed software development doesn’t work if you are following the traditional 9 to 5. Instead, ditch the idea of working hours. Communicate to your employees the results that you need from them. Focus on results. As long as your team is delivering the results that you want, and in the time-frame that you expect, then try not to interfere with them. The last thing you want is over-management when it comes to distributed software development. At that point, you may as well just have everybody in an office.
The Best Software for Managing Distributed Software Engineers
The key to being able to manage your distributed software engineers effectively is to use the right software. The correct software will enable your engineers to communicate and share their work no matter how far they are apart.
While there are countless pieces of software that you can use for your business, there are five pieces that we believe are going to be absolutely essential. Have these implemented in your business and we are sure that productivity will shoot up.
Slack & Discord
Slack & Discord are great for communication between your staff. Much of the conversation will happen in chat rooms. Although, you can also set up video calls and presentations. The reason why we love Discord over competing software is the fact that it is just so simple to use. It also makes searching through old conversations a little bit easier. This can make it far, far simpler to manage your engineers. Some features can even be used offline.
Your software engineers will likely already be using GitHub. However, we are pointing it out. This is because we, honestly, cannot see distributed software engineers being able to thrive without it. in fact, even engineers based in the same location would struggle without GitHub. This platform will enable you to share source code, among other things.
Google Suite is a cloud-based suite of office applications. This includes a word processor, spreadsheets, databases, etc. Software engineers can use Google Suite to produce product documentation, managing workflow, etc. All documents can be shared and edited by anybody with a link to the document. It is far easier than shopping Word Documents around.
Trello is a fantastic way to managing tasks for your software engineers. Think of this as a highly interactive to-do list. It can really help to improve workflow.
The thing with distributed software development is that it can be quite a lonely job. The number of tools out there means that a great deal of the work can be accomplished without physically interacting with somebody. The lack of socialization can lead to the team losing a bit of their morale. As a result, a lot of management teams for distributed software engineers will use Zoom to catch up with their staff. It can be a great way for people to socialize, and you may even be able to discuss issues that can’t really be discussed using any other means.
Sure, many companies could probably get by without using video meetings. However, it isn’t something that we really recommend.
Distributed software development is a great option for any company involved in software development. It allows employees to maintain a good work-life balance, which is always fantastic for morale. However, do bear in mind that managing a business like this is not going to be easy. It requires a mixture of good management, good employees, and good software. Several major software development companies around the world are using distributed software development. It does work. However, it may take a small while for companies to refine their processes.
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