How to organize cooperation with remote teams: pitfalls and ways to avoid them

Software outsourcing received a boost when the global crisis broke loose in 2008; and despite all pessimistic forecasts it continued to flourish after the economic recovery started.

No wonder – a successful business model may be forged by calamities but it does not mean it will be neglected when things get settled again. Still there are some certain factors really stopping it from gaining dominant positions in IT. Apart from its well-known advantages, hiring a remote team and incorporating it into an existing company structure includes a number of flaws which can eventually result in significant risks.

Absence Of Readiness? Detecting At Early Stage

Sometimes, some people have to be controlled. There are different approaches to the problem of supervision; yet anyway one must be sure a team works properly. And you cannot control a remote team in the same way as ordinary office workers.

Measurement of performance is therefore a core element of remote teamwork organizing. Since a manager cannot inspect a remote team physically, it has to be controlled indirectly. This typically includes the following:

  • analyzing daily/weekly/monthly accomplishments;
  • tracking the speed of the team’s progress; learning the reasons in case it is different from time to time;
  • learning which issues could seriously affect the productivity and which ones are insignificant;
  • persuading remote workers to track their time themselves, etc.

Bad management could be the reason why the cooperation with a remote team fails, but in order to fix it you must be sure that it is not just because a bad team was hired.

Lack Of Motivation? The Manager’s Here To Help

People are different; some provide the best performance when working alone. Nevertheless, the importance of team spirit should not be underestimated. And remote teamwork is naturally suffering from that problem. It is harder to make co-workers feel engaged when they are not contacting each other directly. Eventually, active collaboration between them could fade. Even if each one would continue performing quite well, together they would not produce additional values as a united team should do, ideally.

Good teams are motivating their members; when this spirit is gone or did not even appear, remote workers could become less interested in results. It is often difficult to use standard motivating tactics in this case. You cannot invite a remote team to an after-work party, for example. Yet something needs to be done to improve the situation. Here you can find a couple of tips on keeping remote workers more engaged.

The biggest killer of talented professionals’ motivation is ignoring their suggestions. Sadly, the probability of this failure is bigger when they work remote. A manager has therefore to try avoiding this problem. The solution is organizing an efficient collaboration.

Poor Feedback? No Way

When deadlines are pressing, project team members often concentrate on their narrow circles of tasks and say they have no time for talk. As a result, a worker may have some suggestions to optimize a workflow but no one has time to discuss them. Another one may get stuck and need some support, but everybody is too pressed with their own problems. Naturally, this could turn even worse when part of a project is being done by a remote team, because communication takes even more time in that case.

The struggle for collaboration is the first thing ever for a manager. We are happy to have many cool solutions for online collaboration at our disposal today. But software products do not communicate, people do. Different tools are to be used in different situations, and remote workers are to be persuaded to utilize them efficiently. Each remote team member having some ideas or concerns must be sure that the other side is ready to hear them. Meetings should be engaged whenever there is a need. On the other side it is usually better to support less-formalized atmosphere in teams’ interactions in order to make people feel freer. Finally, some personal contacts and occasional sharing of information not related to work should not be forbidden; as such things make some contribution to the teambuilding process as well.

What Is The Big Picture?

Problems and difficulties of remote team management are mostly alike throughout the world. It is the risk which has to be taken in order to get the benefits of outsourcing a project to a remote location. Let us face it: you will never get offshore workers as close to your core team as if they were in a room next door. Still proper management could do much to solve these difficulties.

As the popularity of software outsourcing continues to grow, it is likely that new business practices and management standards will be developed in the nearest future, addressing the problem of remote teambuilding.

Source : Intercomputer Global Services