The modern world gives us a lot of opportunities including the possibility of outsourcing web development. There is a great amount of information on where we can find advice how to manage remote development team but not on how to set it up.
The first step on the way to success is frankly asking yourself: Do you really need an outsource web development team? If the answer is “no,” don’t worry, keep calm and be happy with your in-house workers. But if you find you really do need that remote development team, you’ll face the problem of just how to build it. Since you are here and reading this article you are interested in the topic. Congratulations! Now you are a part of our big family – people who believe that remote teams and outsourcing web development are positive facts of our life!
Now let’s talk about the 5 steps of setting up a remote development team.
From the very beginning, you should decide where you would like to have your remote team: in your own country or others including overseas. Taking as an example The White Label Agency we can say that we have a headquarter in Williamstown, MA but development teams are situated in Ukraine. Anyhow every member of our big and friendly family keeps an eye on latest technologies and delivers only products of the highest quality. Picking a location requires some thought in itself, which we recently wrote about in detail in these very pages.
Work should be done by good people but where could you find those WordPress experts and all the other staff you need? There are four ways to solve this question:
- Check different platforms to find the most appropriate specialists who are working on a freelance base, hold an interview, give a test project. After you get results you’ll make decision. If you know how the whole process looks like (e.g. building sites from Α to Ω) you’ll have no doubts what to ask on interviews and what people will be the most efficient on their places. Also you can arrange a meeting with your existing team (if it is already exists).
- Recruiting employees via agencies. Recruiting agencies abroad can help you to hire the right people. In this case you should be confident in the high level of provided services.
- Hiring skillful workers via development agencies. White label agencies like TWLA can provide two models depending on what fits you best: “dedicated developer” (a chosen specialist will work only with you and do only your tasks), and “project based” (you let WordPress experts work on one project at a time).
- Raise your own developers. Our modern world gives us endless opportunities; every day we can learn something new and a huge number of services and products exist (and are being created all the time). That’s why it may be a hassle to find skillful people with exactly that package of knowledge which your product demands. Sometimes it may be easier, more meaningful and a better use of resources to find jobseekers with some basic knowledge and clear ability to learn, and give them additional education. In this way, you’ll be confident of their level.
03 Setting up the structure and communication process
After gathering people in one team you should create an exact structure to let everyone know his or her role and the goals for that role.
- Head of Production. An essential part of the structure of your company is the person who will manage your external team of developers. This person will be responsible for the whole development team and their communication with customers and partners. He or she will maintain the integrity of the outsourced web development team, including observing working situations, solving misunderstandings or conflicts if they appear, making the goals clear, and controlling task loading. A high overload for developers is a sign that it’s time to hire new employees and grow your team.
- Tech Leads. A next valuable role in the structure could be called Tech Leads, people who help the development team in all their challenges. No person can know everything, that’s why we exchange experiences and share thoughts and ideas. A Tech Lead is someone who would have a relatively broader experience and deeper knowledge in the topics relevant for your work than most of the rest of the team. If your WordPress developers come across a tricky issue, they can ask for advice from the Tech Leads. When your team is small, it’s possible that you could have the same person as a Tech Lead and Head of Production, but be careful — deep technical skills do not always go hand in hand with good project management. As your remote team gets bigger, we’ve found it’s much more efficient to let developers have recourse to any available tech lead rather than restricting them to one each. Here at The White Label Agency we tried both variants, so we know what we’re talking about.
- Quality assurance. All people, companies and agencies value their reputation. That’s why before delivering ready-to-use product providers should be confident in high quality. Again there are different kinds of testing so that you need professionals with special skills according to the chosen product (site building, software development, applications etc.) When the team is smaller, you may not have capacity to split this off in its own unique role.
- Sales and marketing team. The last but not the least point. You can be great in certain skill and have the best team in the world but if nobody knows about you you’ll never sell products or services. Taking into consideration this fact you’ll obviously think about selling part of your perfect team. There should be present people who’ll find appropriate customers that may be interested in your services and give them all the information. Sales managers will do all trading.
In a well-designed operation, every part of the company structure is essential. Take it from Natalia, our Head of Production in Poltava:
“Everything in the company is interrelated. There is no main nexus. A company is like a watch: if you take off the smallest component — which may seem useless from first sight — it won’t work.”
04 Communication process
Setting up a communication process you should remember that it has to work smoothly and be convenient for every participant of the process. Let’s dig a bit deeper and divide communication into 2 parts:
- Communication inside the team. For this purpose you can be used different tools such as Salesforce, Basecamp, Scrum, Skype. Salesforce is used for record-keeping of projects, accomplishment of different stages of the task, deadlines and progress report. On Basecamp you can keep all the information about the project – PSD files, specifications, access to server, preferences. Scrum – agile framework is another possibility for completing complex projects. A flexible system of meetings, which can be hold through Skype, is also very important. (Want more detail? Read more on the best tools to use with your remote development team.) While scheduling meetings you should keep track of so-called golden hours when every member of the team is online. It may be only a few hours a day due to different time zones.
- Communication between representatives of your team and customers. To satisfy every order and desire of your customer, different tools can be used. Among the many options, some of the most commonly used are Skype, Slack.com, Asana, Trello, Bugherd and of course emails. Slack is great for communication with clients about separate projects. Bugherd, Asana and Trello are good for discussion feedbacks and specifications. And of course, never forget about Skype and emails.
In our experience, we’re convinced that communication with customers should be provided by designated people, not developers. Why? Because it takes some time to switch attention between different kinds of working process. If you’re trying to keep your team lean, one possibility is to have the Head of Production take responsibility for this (but watch out that he or she doesn’t get overworked — this person is essential to making the whole operation work well).
05 Establishing workflow
To let your team work as a clock you should establish a clear workflow. Every person should know his or her duties and rights and do that kind of work he’s experienced in. In the right role, in a comfortable environment people will feel the desire to push the borders of the possible. A tight-knit workflow will allow the working process go smoothly from the very first step of asset collection to quality assurance, feedbacks and final delivery.
Enjoy the result! If you do the previous steps thoroughly the only thing you’ll have to do is to pick the fruit of your labor and think about the possible future development of your remote development team.