Communication is of utmost importance in any kind of collaborative project, especially when it involves remote work. Software development represents a significant investment for most companies. A deviation from expectations, delays in approval, or unclear directions can slow things down and end up costing more time and money. There are also times when changing business conditions necessitate some pivot in direction for the project after work has started, and this needs to be communicated quickly with the team.
Outsourcing software development can save money on a project and also allow access to specialist IT talent that would be hard to find otherwise. Nonetheless, there’s a certain amount of anxiety that comes to relinquishing control to an external team, even of experienced professionals, because there is so much at stake. But if proper communication practices are established and maintained from the beginning, there is no reason that you can’t have a smooth and fruitful partnership with a quality software product at the end of it.
Here are a few useful tips for good communication with your remote software partner:
1. Start With Clearly Defined Requirements
Getting off on the right foot is important, as it sets the tone for the project going forward. From the beginning, the dev team should understand exactly what the goals of the project are, including desired features, technical requirements, target users, and order of priorities. This is especially true of custom software development, in which the product is being built from scratch by the remote team. Create a document of guidelines with as much specific detail as you can, as leaving things too general may result in delays as the team requests more clarification—or worse, makes the wrong assumption and must correct it later.
2. Thorough Planning
Flexibility in software development is important, and one of the key advantages of modern development methodologies like Agile, but that doesn’t mean you can go in without a plan. In fact, adaptability is only possible with a detailed plan as a reference point.
A plan is created in the early stages of the software development life cycle, after consultation with the outsourcing company and a review of the requirements. It should include a proposed timeline for feature delivery, the responsibilities of different team members and representatives of your company, and protocols for communication.
3. Account for Time Zone Differences
When outsourcing, consider how the time zone of the partner’s location might affect communication and workflow. If they end up sleeping during your workday, then there could be considerable delays. One way to avoid this is to choose nearshore outsourcing companies. These are based in Latin America and operate in a time zone closely aligned with the US, so real-time communication is possible throughout the day. If a time zone day is unavoidable, find a point of overlap (say, in the morning for you, but the late afternoon for the developers) in the workday and reserve this for meetings and check-ins.
4. Have Contingencies in Place
It always helps to account for what might go wrong and have a backup plan just in case. Make sure that equipment (headsets, etc.) is in good working order and that there are a few spares. Have an offline backup procedure for important documents in case of internet failure. Keep an additional communication channel for the team to jump on if the main one fails (e.g., Discord or Telegram if Teams or Zoom goes down).
5. Share Knowledge With The Team
If your own organization has technical experts, initiate dialogue, meetings or tech talks with the remote team and encourage them to share knowledge. This meeting of minds could result in fresh ideas and approaches for the software project.
6. Hold Regular, But Valuable, Meetings
It’s an old trope of office humor that meetings can often be a waste of time, but that’s because they aren’t being done right. To keep the lines of communication flowing, hold regular meetings that include a debrief on progress and the chance for all stakeholders to ask questions and get clarification on what to do next. If everyone knows when to expect the meeting and what’s on the agenda, the focus can be on working out important details that are relevant to the task at hand.
7. Foster a Sense of Community
Common psychological issues for remote workers include feeling isolated and subsequently disengaged. Your partnership can be more productive if a sense of community is fostered through the occasional remote social event or team-building exercise.
8. Use the Right Collaboration Tools
If you are new to remote work on this scale, research different collaboration tools for your needs. Think about how many users need to be on video calls, if multimedia files need to be shared, and test the call quality. A good task management platform will help here, and a good software development company will offer a custom dashboard.
9. Don’t Overdo It!
It is possible to have too much communication, which is demoralizing for the team as it can make them feel unnecessarily micromanaged. Make sure that meetings are productive for all participants, centered around actionable points, and require real-time interaction. Otherwise a simple email may suffice.
10. Hire an Experienced Remote Team
An established software company will already have experience in these types of tasks and follow best practices for remote collaboration. AccelOne’s US Nearshore development team has a proven track record of delivering quality software solutions for industry-leading clients. To find out how we can help your company realize its digital transformation goals, contact us online or call 800.863.6814.
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Based in Seattle and with offices in Las Vegas and Buenos Aires, AccelOne aims to solve software development’s biggest challenge: delivering quality solutions on time and on budget. We offer custom software development, nearshoring, and IT staffing and recruiting services. Browse our site to learn more.