Labor markets have not recovered from the economic disruption that took place in 2020 around the world. Both employment losses and the reduction in working hours were at a historically unprecedented scale, four times more significant than in 2009. And now, in 2021, challenges for employers took a new form – companies simply can’t find the right people to fill vacant positions.
Many projects are not delivered due to the paradox of high unemployment rates happening at the same time as record job openings.
Plus, employers are still paying wages for “idle time” – periods when employees are on the clock but unable to complete the job.
What also needs to be mentioned is average earnings in the IT sector are rising at the expense of employers. This change was motivated by the need to attract and retain workers. However, retaining talent is getting increasingly difficult. Developers tend to work on several projects simultaneously, which doesn’t reflect positively on their corporate loyalty.
Why Distributed Development Is Taking Over
In response, businesses are switching to a different way of teaming up with developers – in a remote, collaborative, and distributed development fashion. At the beginning of the pandemic companies were forced to adapt to “the new abnormal” and switch to remote work. But now that most of the dust has settled, we can see areas that will never be the same. Distributed teams are a part of the “new normal”.
The trend is not new. Distributed development has long been recognized as advantageous for businesses. To name just a few positives, it allows companies to employ a diverse, highly skilled workforce without geographical limitations. Next, it reduces the cost of employment, alleviating the need for face-to-face meetings and travel expenses (especially helpful in the current wage context). Lastly, it provides enough structure to have a well-organized project but also enough flexibility to increase productivity and trust.
What’s different now is that distributed development is happening on a completely different scale. Once a voluntary measure, it became a necessity in 2020 and then grew into a strategic advance.
How Decision-Makers Can Shift Mindsets and Behaviors When Adopting DSD
Distributed software development requires a change in mindset. Thus, businesses need to adopt unique working patterns and adapt existing patterns to strengthen remote work. The first practice to pay attention to is setting up a boot camp at the start of the project. It solves two distinct purposes – ensures a shared understanding of the tooling, code standards, the definition of done, and initial architecture design and creates a welcoming virtual environment.
Next is what we call a “rotating guru”. This is someone who communicates the home team’s context to members of the distributed team. In turn, the distributed team has the opportunity to insert their own insights, making it a two-way collaboration. Do not confuse it with an inspection or audit. During their stay with the local team (which ideally takes several weeks), the guru works as a regular team member. The goal is not to intimidate the team but to foster a relationship where ideas and initiatives can thrive.
While co-located teams have the luxury of communicating face-to-face, there needs to be a close equivalent of that for distributed teams. Make the extra effort to maintain continuous, high-bandwidth communication, once again, for several purposes – the effective exchange of information, overlapping schedules, and to keep up with key events.
It is also possible to spin the difference in time zones in a way that benefits the shared goal. By pairing up a member from one distributed team with a member of another distributed team, managers encourage knowledge transfer. But similar to the “rotating guru”, it’s important to separate these pairings and form new ones.
What most of these efforts come down to is creating a shared community. This refers to the team spirit as much as it does to the project’s knowledge base. All teams need to have access to a single source of information. Otherwise, it leads to misinformed actions and downtime.
Guidelines for Managing Co-Located and Remote Teams
As businesses set up their new geographically distributed network, there are a few guidelines:
- All teams should be treated equally, with no division into in-house/outsourced.
- Find the balance between monitoring and trust.
- Maintain the same standards across the entire hiring process.
- Build self-sustaining teams (a few developers + PM + QA).
- Separate program management from engineering.
- Prevent convergence of architecture frameworks with regular design team meetings.
- Prioritize testing.
- Recognize achievements and arrange virtual meetings that everyone can participate in.
When it comes to in-house vs. outsourced models, the good news is that businesses can choose both. Intetics combines the best practices of Remote In-Sourcing model and Offshore Dedicated Teams. Having completed multiple projects, it’s safe to say that both models can co-exist in a coordinated manner. And with online collaboration and communication tools, it is possible to bridge the gap between teams working on different components and modules.
One of the values Intetics upholds is creating partnerships with our clients – by delivering on promises and keeping an open mind for future long-term projects.
These teams share the result-oriented approach and commitment for each project. And in times of conflict, the teams remain self-sufficient, knowing how to take care of local processes.
Many businesses have already faced the challenges of organizing remote work. So, being able to rely on a successfully established system of remote dedicated teams is always a significant leg-up.
We are ready to support your project at every step of the way, you could find more about new trends in our White Paper: “Distributed Software Development: How to Build Your Product and Create Your Team” or just contact us to Get Started.