Distributed team vs remote team
You probably already know what is an offshore (aka remote) team: it’s a team that sits at the same location (usually an office managed by an outstaffing company) few thousands miles away from you. There’s a good reason for working with off-shore too: it’s cheaper than hiring local developers. The whole industry of off-shore software outsourcing is built around this single concept.
But does that really work? Well, sometimes it does: when you either fully transfer product ownership to remote team’s management or when you constantly travel to supervise the development and stay involved in all main decisions. However, even then you are in risk of loosing control over the product delivery or getting the whole process repeatedly blocked on your availability.
There’s no way around it: communication between the product owner and the development team is crucial and often the weakest link is the product development process.
But there’s another approach to the same problem that eliminates the supervision and communication bottleneck, while preserving the cost advantage of off-shore: distributed team.
With distributed team, all the team members are located in different places (their home offices, co-working spaces and even cafes), and they communicate uniformly among them and the product owner. The secret ingredients to the success of such work mode are:
process owner (as opposed to product owner) - an experienced person that drives the team (often a PM or tech lead) and helps product owner to define and prioritize requirements.
developers with the right attitude - highly competent professionals who choose remote work over office work as a way of life.
direct communication of product owner, process owner and the rest of the team
To be a productive member of distributed team, one must be able to communicate in a very clear and structured way, to work directly with business requirements and to produce a well planned technical tasks breakdown as a way of work. These characteristics are hard to come by in a regular hiring process, because the main bulk of candidates usually put emphasis on entirely different set of skills (specific technology, experience of working in famous companies, management experience, etc).
To be a productive process owner, one must be very technical, but not to the point of constantly overriding team member’s decisions, one must be willing to delegate a lot of responsibility without loosing track all the internal and external goals and commitments of the entire team. Such characteristics are even harder to come by in regular managerial candidates.
So, to summarize: building a productive distributed team is very hard, but working with one is a rewarding experience!
We at Initech have a great experience of building and driving distributed teams for a wide range of projects.
Want to find out more about distributed work mode? Need help with getting your product developed and launched?
Drop us a line and we’ll be happy to answer your questions!
Initech Software Services Ltd