We’ve written before the importance of communicating directly with your remote WordPress developers or freelancers. There are plenty of messaging apps that fulfill the basic functions needed for that, namely instant messaging and calling. Skype is still a natural choice and Slack seems to be gaining momentum.

But what about managing all of the other aspects of outsourcing web development for WordPress?

Instant messaging is not really an efficient solution for all the relevant communication needed to manage a remote team.

Let’s consider the key steps of a typical outsourced web development project:

  • The Beginning. Transferring of files, including documentation, PSDs, and images
  • Throughout.  Assigning tasks and transferring the project through different phases (e.g. reminder to client to send a missing image; indicating to QA that a project is ready to be reviewed)
  • The End. Sharing feedback on finished project

What’s important when it comes to choosing tools or systems to deal with these steps? To answer this question, try thinking about it backward: why would email or instant messaging be badtools?
For starters, information would certainly get buried. Closely linked to this avalanche effect is the never-ending need for back and forth between participants to dredge up the relevant information at the relevant time. In contrast, effective solutions make the necessary information quickly accessible in a predictable way. Also, they should minimize the need for back-and-forth discussions.

Whether you are hiring one WordPress freelancer or a whole team of remote developers, the process has to be efficient for you to get your money’s worth.

With these principles — and some trial and error — we’ve selected a few key software tools that we typically recommend to smooth the process:

Basecamp - Tools for Managing a Remote Development Team

Basecamp – storing and sharing files

It’s straightforward and widely used by businesses for project management. The file sharing function could also be fulfilled by Dropbox or Drive, but these are less adapted specifically for project management.

Basecamp - Tools for managing a Remote Development Team Usersnap - Tools for Managing a Remote Development Team

UserSnap – managing feedback

It’s simple and effective for feedback on WordPress web design. The client gets a link that shows the finished website, and then can make textual and graphical annotations that are automatically saved in screenshots and sent back to the developers. We’ve looked at alternatives just for comparison, but to be frank, none are really worth mentioning. UserSnap is far and away the best tool available for this function.

Usersnap - Tools for Managing a Remote Development Team

Trello - Tools for Managing a Remote Development Team

Trello – collaborating and keeping track of remaining to-dos

 While to-do managers are a dime a dozen these days, we like Trello because of its flexible organizing system. Many competing collaboration managers force you to organize work in a specific way, but Trello’s hierarchy of boards, lists, and cards can easily be adapted and rearranged to suit different needs. For example, lists can represent individual participants, so that multi-phase tasks can be seamlessly passed back and forth without extra discussion. If a client suddenly wants to add a single request, a card can easily be tacked on anywhere in the process.

Trello - Tools for Managing a Remote Development Team
Of course, if you already have your own system for working with WordPress freelancers or remote development teams, you should certainly expect that any WordPress developers that you hire should be willing to adapt. While we recommend these tools, our focus is on building a useful long-term relationship with our client partners. Any freelancers or outsourcing firms worth working with should have the same long-term attitude towards you as a customer.