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10 January 2022

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Virtual Software Development: Tips and Tricks

The global software development tools market is anticipated to reach a staggering  $9.9 billion by 2027, a monumental increase from $3.8 billion in 2020. With the booming market, many companies look for ways to get a piece of the pie. In such a case, distributing services and products globally is a notable tool. Virtual software development appears as the answer. Virtual teams help businesses avoid the challenges of adaptation to new environments and help extend their products and services. However, to get the most out of virtual software development teams, it is vital to know how to handle them. Further, we’d explore tips and tricks required to make virtual software development at the forefront of your success. 

Keep an Eye on Company Culture

Often, people working in great companies take their company culture for granted. However, finding a balance in company culture is as rare as finding top tech talent from the first try. In a nutshell, company culture resembles the types of relationships you might encounter in family settings. There are particular patterns of accountability, certain transparency, and a healthy work-to-rest ratio involved. In turn, maintaining company culture brings team cohesion, has a positive impact on motivation, and helps managers regulate behaviors within the scope of internal processes.

To maintain a culture within virtual software development teams, you must have periodic meetings with managers responsible for the culture. Such meetings explore approaches to mitigating ongoing and potential risks, especially when the teams switch to virtual settings. If you have time and resources, use skip-level meetings among managers. Alongside meetings, you need to have documented strategies at hand. Store them in the cloud and ensure every party involved has direct access to the document. Virtual teams need to review the strategy before road map meetings. Finally, to maintain company culture across virtual teams, it helps to use tools such as Mira and Google Docs.

Have a Clear Product Vision

Virtual software developers can easily lose track of product vision. A dev team working on a joint project without a unified vision of the result they are trying to attain can find it hard to stay on track with the broader strategy. As a result, losing sight of product vision leads to devs addressing the wrong problems, which takes time and resources. Nonproductive work is one of the issues that any business might endure. And losing sight of product vision is one of the key factors leading to software developers investing their valuable time in vain.

To keep the focus on product vision, you need to hold road map reviews. It is the process allowing for alignment of the operation of software development with a broader product vision phenomenon. Moreover, your virtual team can work closely with upper management while digressing the product vision into parameters like cost, features, timing, product cost, and quality. It would be easier to handle these parameters separately without thwarting the broader concept. In other words, such a digression helps keep product vision in sight for traditional and virtual teams alike. Tools like Jira help stay on track with the product vision.

Stay Agile

When team members are physically separated, it can be challenging to use the power of agile methodologies like Scrum and Kanban. It becomes even harder when keeping in mind agile methodologies often presuppose face-to-face communication as the best method of conveying information. In such a case, virtual software development teams face a particular dilemma and need to stay agile. And to stay agile, they need to surpass the face-to-face communication obstacle. Notably, even the most senior developers can be affected by the issue mentioned above. 

Luckily, there is a trick virtual teams can use to stay agile. Along with face-to-face communication, the core of agile methodology lies in technical excellence and design-enhancing agility. Virtual teams can achieve that through a particular instrument. After IT relocation, ensure there is a set of agile events up and running. They will help your team to carry out agile methodologies without the need to have face-to-face communication. In addition, you can use Trello and Basecamp to help teams stay agile. 

Manage for Collaboration

Working in an in-house environment brings many benefits in terms of collaboration and communication. These are hard to replicate in virtual software development teams. In such a context, to manage the cooperation that will be similar to the ones of in-house teams, it is important to find measures mimicking real-life bonding experiences. Various virtual team-building activities help bring them together and boost collaboration. 

Before plunging into virtual team collaboration events, ensure you have a planning document and boundary conditions set. These essentially show what you are collaborating on. Then, define respective roles and responsibilities for everyone in a virtual team to know their part in the process. You can use a circle dot chart to streamline the collaboration. As a result, while real-life collaboration cannot be substituted entirely, there are technological tools that have boosted collaboration to the maximum possible within virtual software development teams

Maintain Employee Well-Being

Regardless of where your employees are stationed, they have to feel the connection; they have to feel they are cared for. Nowadays, it does not suffice to simply pay the wages. As an employer, you have to do extra. There are some distinct challenges and solutions for managing remote and virtual teams. What is more, people are still trying to cope with the hardships brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. In virtual software development, managing employee well-being is as important as doing the same with in-house teams. Finally, you need to understand that virtual work makes it hard for people to maintain a work-life balance properly.

Keeping all these aspects in mind, there are certain steps to handle employee well-being within virtual teams.

  • Step 1: raise the awareness of well-being as a part of internal processes with lectures and workshops.
  • Step 2: engage in the development of managers via coaching and discussions.
  • Step 3: set up cross-company strategies and deliver them through well-being objectives and surveys.

Use these successive steps to ensure virtual teams’ well-being is taken care of. Keep in mind that virtual software developers face even greater challenges than in-house devs. 

Key Takeaways

Virtual software development is a novel phenomenon. While occurring and developing in times of turmoil, managing it became a process relying on specific measures. Essentially, virtual software development’s quality depends on virtual teams’ ability to do their work. To ensure that, maintain company culture, help teams keep an eye on product vision, use tools to stay agile, manage collaboration, and take care of employee well-being. These tips and tricks are a direct way to make the most of virtual software development.

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