With COVID-19 affecting virtually every industry and forcing many to stay home, more and more software development teams are working remotely. As an industry, this isn’t really groundbreaking. Software development and outsourcing has been done remotely for a long time. Still many companies are struggling to make the move to remote work environments.
What are the factors for software development teams to consider when working remotely? We have found three key areas must come together for remote IT teams to work effectively. These include security, effective communication, and utilizing the right tools.
Security Is Always First
If you don’t have security, you’re done. Be sure to have business security standards in place, that each employee or contractor must read and sign off on before working with your team. If it’s been awhile since your employees have reviewed your security protocols, now is a good time to refresh them and send them out again. While some highly sensitive work should simply not be allowed to leave your secure work environment, most IT and software development can be done from a home office, under the right conditions.
Consider Moving Data to the Cloud
Remote software development and management may be a challenge for those IT teams that are accustomed to an on-site data center. If your business is still managing your own data center, consider moving to the cloud where all work is done remotely. Cloud migration is certainly not an easy task, but there are many benefits including cost savings and the ability to manage infrastructure remotely.
Below are the five reasons why we see businesses moving to the cloud.
- Cost benefits – Cloud pricing models are based on a pay for what you use approach. Services can be turned on and off when needed and you only need pay for what you use. As well cloud computing costs are more easily scheduled as regular operational expenses, rather than major, emergency outlays of cash. However, be sure that you work with an experienced cloud architect to ensure that you consider the best pricing approaches.
- Reduced maintenance headaches – Anyone who is currently running a data center understands the huge enormity of maintenance that goes into successful data centers. Monitoring power, cooling, network performance, server status, and much more. All of these tasks must be done on-site for traditional data centers.
- Redundancy – Users demand 99.99% uptime, which is difficult to provide with a single data center location. At the same time, running redundant locations is expensive and time consuming. Much less so in the cloud, where instances can be easily duplicated.
- Distributed resources – The AWS cloud is global by nature. This keeps your workload closer to your audience, boosting performance and experience.
- Supporting more types of workloads and specialized services.
Communication is Key for Remote IT Teams
Green Marimba works with agile technologies for rapid development and continuous improvement. Agile development was originally imagined for development teams physically located together in the same office. But these days, many companies are working with distributed teams and software outsourcing companies.
Communication becomes even more important when working with remote software development, so always err on the side of over communicating. As such, we have weekly and in some cases daily sprint meetings with our agile teams. This is important to keep everyone in the loop and be sure that milestones and expectations are being met.
Don’t wait until your team is frustrated to call a lengthy meeting. Instead schedule regular, short meetings that all team members are required to attend. Holding these meetings on Zoom or a video conferencing platform is the best way to make everyone feel like they are in a room together, even when they’re not.
For developers that work with clients or other stakeholders, be sure that they are easy to contact. Distributed phone systems where a live or virtual receptionist can easily forward calls to an engineers phone make your organization much more pro.
Choose the Right Tools for Remote Software Development
As we have said, communication is highly important for any healthy software development team and working remotely amplifies this. But obviously, you need to implement the right tools to make this happen.
Slack is our instant messaging platform of choice. Our team is constantly communicating to clarify issues via Slack. We easily share links, attach document files and share images. Slack is integrated with @mention so that you can include different members to keep them in the loop.
We generally create a Slack environment for each client, for seamless communication. In this way, clients can easily message any developer or the team. Another advantage of Slack is that you can see the status of your team members. If they are available, on break or away for the day. (And if you miss a chat, don’t worry, Slack will send you an email of the message.)
Remember that developers are human and need personal connection. It may be difficult for some engineers who are used to working closely with a team to make the move to a home office. Setup a #random channel on Slack to help your team connect. Slack says that #random is ‘A place for non-work-related flimflam, faffing, hodge-podge or jibber-jabber …..’ What this really means is that your team has permission to connect personally, if not a physical office.
More Great Tools for Remote Software & IT Development
Our team uses Trello to create a road map for your custom software development. Trello assures that assignments and communications are tracked and stored in one place, for every task.
Working in Trello is easy and intuitive. Boards are created to define a project. Columns are added to the board to categorize the process. Cards are added within the columns detailing specific tasks and action. Within the cards, users add comments, add documents, images and links, keeping all necessary items in one place. @mention a team member to send them a message about a task, and Trello will email them with a link back to the card.
Everybody loves working with GitHub to build better software. Our team leaders set up projects and create and assign issues to technicians here. We define projects comprised of issues that are set for specific release dates. The programmers work issues, make comments and collaborate if necessary to complete a task. They then commit code for testing. Using GitHub brings all these pieces together in one place.
Green Marimba is an IT and software outsourcing company with a proven track record. Here at Green Marimba we are ready to go with remote development teams for custom software development projects. We’re fortunate to have the experience and opportunities to work remotely in most cases and can assist your team with staff augmentation or custom software development.