8 Effective Tips for Managing a Software Development Team During Covid-19
By Space Coast Daily // August 18, 2020
Given the limited physical human interaction occasioned by the ongoing global pandemic, more businesses are exploring remote working options and solutions.
For long, software development and the entire IT industry has been known to be remote-friendly. However, managing and offshoring software development remains a challenge, especially when your team members are scattered across various locations.
Despite the challenges of managing teams remotely, it is still possible to coordinate and maximize productivity in your team. In this post, we share some insights from our team experience that will help you navigate these times.
Effective tips to keep your team of developers productive and effective
1. Equip your team with necessary tech tools
The first step is ensuring that every member of your software development team has facilities and tools for working as a team.
There exist many collaborative tools that facilitate remote working. Zoom has been particularly popular and effective, but other options such as Microsoft Teams, Trello, Jira, Skype, and Google Meet also exist and are equally effective. These collaborative tools help your team stay connected through communication and sharing of progress.
Additionally, there exist productivity tools such as iDoneTHis, Todoist, and Atlassian Stash or especially Agile development process that can help your team keep track and monitor their progress.
The bottom line is that you should ensure everyone in your team has the necessary tech tools to work effectively regardless of where they are.
2. Define a common communication strategy
Unlike managing teams in a single location, effective communication is a great challenge when working with a remote team. To navigate this, you need to establish clear communication rules that everyone in the team should adhere to strictly.
The rules should define how frequent the team would be meeting, the amount of time someone should take to respond to a message, how often reporting on project progress should be, and the protocols to follow in case someone is not available, say due to an emergency.
These rules should be clear, understood, and followed by everyone without any exceptions.
3. Forget time tracking
While you would want to have everyone in your team clock in the maximum number of working hours in a day, time tracking may not work for remote team management. It is almost impossible to verify and track a team member’s activity regardless of the software you use.
Instead of tracking time, track results. Measure the performance of your team based on the work they deliver rather than the time they spend doing the work. Have reasonable Key Performance Indicators and use them to judge the progress of your project.
If your business model costs team members based on the hours they work, you can establish a model of equating tasks done with average time one would likely use to complete such a task.
4. Have clearly defined roles and responsibilities for each team member
The essence of a team is to share tasks and to work together towards a common goal. That shouldn’t change for a remote team. Ensure that every team member is assigned specific roles and responsibilities through the software development project. This gives everyone a sense of self-drive and increased productivity as they strive to contribute to the team’s success individually.
5. Encourage free and open communication
Working remotely is a new thing for many. The reality is some people have not yet adjusted to the new modalities of operation and this can affect their operations negatively.
As you manage your team, ensure that you cultivate an environment of free and open communication. Encourage every member of the team to have conversations and consult each other through the development process.
While working remotely, it is still possible to sustain effective team interactions for synergy within the team. This will help contribute to the overall success of the project.
6. Keep an open mind
When managing a remote team, you should be alive to the fact that things will be different. Some outputs might not appear as efficient as they would if the team was working in a shared location.
That is why you should keep an open mind while leading the team. As a leader, establish an approachable persona where every team member can engage with you for clarity and corrections without feeling as if they are slowing the team.
Show humility and give feedback as often as possible. Your aim should be to keep the morale of the team up.
7. Trust your team
Make it clear to your team that you trust their ability to deliver efficient results regardless of whether you are keeping an eye on them or not. Again, this is tied to communication – making the objectives of the project clear to everyone and being approachable and ready to teach. Throw away the constant tracking and monitoring of activity and focus more on supporting the team to achieve the overall objective.
8. Effective documentation
An often-overlooked element of managing a remote team is maintaining proper documentation. Ensure that every bit of information and project files from each team member are assembled and securely stored for future reference.
For instance, if a team is working on multiple modules of a software program, storage and documentation of modules should be done continuously as every stage in the development is completed.
With Covid-19 still with us, it is vital to embrace the new normal by adjusting your strategies to conform to the current state of the world.
While managing a software development team can be challenging, employing the tips shared here makes it possible. Leverage on the available communication and productivity tools to keep your team going through these times.
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