9 Must-Have Tools for Managing an Offshore Development Team
You are likely managing internal teams. And if you are good at what you do, then you already know how to manage a team effectively. If your organization is made up of several teams, you have team leaders. You communicate with them regularly, to get updates on progress, to resolve issues, and to provide resources when necessary. Some of this communication may be digital. Some of it may be in person.
So if you are now going to manage a remote development team for the first time, do not panic. You have the skills. In fact, you already know how to manage a team effectively. You’ll just need to make certain adjustments. There will be a local project manager and you’ll set up goals, objectives, parameters and timelines, just as always.
The Difference Between Managing Offshore Teams and In-House Teams
One thing that may change is the set of digital tools you will be using. It’s one thing to be able to walk down the hall and speak with someone about an important detail. It’s another thing when you are thinking about how to handle an offshore team in Ukraine, for example.
Take only the aspect of meetings. Internally, you sit down with your team leader or perhaps have meetings with an entire team. Now all of a sudden, you need to manage an offshore development team in Ukraine, half a world away. How will the meetings occur?
This is just one example of when you need the team management tools. What follows is a list of other tools for managing a remote team that you may find quite useful. Even if you are a non-techy, they’ll be user-friendly and will keep everyone on point. These are by no means the only tools for the purposes stated. But they are solid and deserve a look.
Source: Atlassian JIRA
JIRA is a project management tool specifically designed for software development teams and agile project management. In fact, it is probably the best and most comprehensive on the market.
You may not know or understand terms such as “agile development” or agile frameworks like “Scrum” or “Kanban” just yet, but your remote development team will. It has probably used JIRA numerous times. The beauty of this tool for you is that it provides a complete picture of your project, who is doing what, and how they are collaborating to complete it. If your remote PM is using this team management software, you are in good hands.
Think about this: JIRA is used by such companies as Square, eBay, Cisco and Airbnb.
Chances are you are familiar with Trello, but if not, it is pretty much on the top of the list of collaboration tools for internal team project work. Tasks are listed and delegated, and the boards that are devised with the task cards visually depicted. Everyone can see what everyone else has completed, what they are currently working on, and projected timelines for completion. In software development, everything must be sequenced, and Trello keeps everyone in sync.
Additionally, you can use it to manage your own chores and create cards for various actions you need to accomplish to get the project moving – such as provide feedback on the recent demo, send out the brand guidelines for design and so on.
Here is a great cloud-based communication tool for daily conversations. Send direct messages, make calls, drop files, images, documents, etc. right on in for sharing, and add comments to others’ communications.
One reason why Slack is such a popular tool is that separate channels can be set up for each project or for small groups. Messages can go to the entire team, to just a few, or an individual. As far as tools for remote teams, this is great work chat app.
Online communication made easy – local, national and international. Skype allows video, audio, or messaging all in one. Whether you need to conference with your remote PM individually or with the entire team in a conference setting, this is one of the top remote collaboration tools for business. You’re good to go on any Microsoft supported device.
Source: Google Drive
This is your answer to online file storage that can be accessed from your computer, tablet or smartphone and shared with whom you like. Store legal documents and any amendments that may have been added; store images, drawings, designs – even recordings and videos.
It’s really great for you and remote teams, especially when everyone is not in the same location and needs to access files or docs. That’s the thing about techies – they may have greater productivity at the local coffee shop or at 3:00 a.m. With access to the work files from Google Drive, it’s not a problem.
Another product from Atlassian (JIRA mentioned above), Bitbucket is the solution for storing source files, sharing them by permission, and allowing team members to collaborate on every step of the development process, from coding to deployment.
It is web-based so users can access it from anywhere and is for projects that use two revision control systems – Mercurial or Git. While you won’t understand the technical aspects of this tool, suffice it to say that developers love it because is securely stores their source files and allows collaboration from anywhere.
GitHub is Bitbucket close cousin. It’s another popular service used by developers to store, share and collaborate on source code files. You may know GitHub as a popular open source platform, but it also allows storing private projects for a fee unlike Bitbucket that charges per user.
Additionally, this app syncs effectively with popular automated testing tools such as Jenkins, meaning that your developers can write and check the code simultaneously.
By the way, at Romexsoft we use both options, Bitbucket and GitHub, for different projects. If you don’t know what to choose for your needs we can easily advise you.
Wireframing is a task that occurs early on in a development project. Basically, it is visual layout for content and functionality. Balsamiq mockups are easy and make short work of wireframing, acting like a whiteboard for sketching. Developers can sketch their ideas, erase what doesn’t work, replace, remodel, and come up with their best solutions, based upon user needs and navigation. And you can do the same whenever you need to illustrate certain points to your team, outline user flows or give some feedback on the design. Balsamiq is really simple to use.
When you or someone from the team wants to illustrate concepts, create media, and share that collaboratively with other team members, on a permission basis, Screencast-O-Matic is a great option. Working on their own screens, individuals can capture any digital content they have, and then share it for others to analyze and respond to. It’s a good storage solution that also archives every piece and every revision that has been made.
Not a Comprehensive List
This is not a comprehensive list by any means. There are other tools out there that will perform the same functions. If you are a techie and plan to be technically involved with your offshore team, then you already know that these are solid tools for managing a development team.
If you are not tech-savvy, you now have an idea of what tools are probably necessary to develop the software you want. Further, you have a layman’s idea of what these tools do. This will allow you to ask the right questions as you have those initial discussions with an offshore team you are considering. You will want to be certain that your Project Manager has the tools in place that experienced and proficient development teams use.
Romexsoft would be happy to advise you on the best management tools to use and create an effective product development roadmap, based on your current needs!