Four Tips to Effectively Manage Remote IT Teams
August 23, 2019
By Rahul Mahna
Why do so many dispersed or remote IT teams fail to work as expected?
As teams increasingly include offsite personnel, we find issues generating from the time-space paradigm that is inherently created with remote teams. Items are often dropped or not addressed properly because of a lack of understanding of contextual items, such as slang and local colloquialisms. When you add different states and countries into the mix, understandably gaps in communications can occur. To mitigate this risk, try instituting a mandatory travel policy. Remote teams should send at least one team member to work with the main office on a frequent basis. This travel allows team members to understand local ideology and language effectuations, aid in cultural integration, pass knowledge to their teams, and learn the process—which ultimately lead to minimizing communication issues.
What's the biggest mistake IT leaders make when managing dispersed or remote IT teams?
Most companies believe that when they start working with remote and offshore teams on a project, the cost structure will be dramatically lower. What most do not realize, however, are the nascent costs from shifting to this model. Be cognizant of costs shifting to increased operating expenses, such as travel, as well as the changing cost-benefit analysis. Ultimately, the benefit to most is not lowering cost but being able to “follow the sun” and have improved workflow on 24x7 basis.
What key attributes do dispersed or remote IT teams lack that centrally located teams generally possess?
One of the biggest ongoing challenges we see is making remote teams feel inclusive. One suggestion to mitigate this concern is setting up remote offices with groups of people, rather than individuals. This allows for a constant flow of work for the teams to do together—a comradery of sorts. When remote employees work alone, there is a general feeling of loneliness and not being part of the team. Another idea to reduce this is to require more video conferences and semi-frequent travel to the corporate office.
What's the best way to get dispersed or remote IT teams to work together successfully?
One quick method is to use already existing overseas firms to develop on a project basis (outsourcing). An issue with this is not only geography, but the cultures of multiple firms. We have found the best method here was to bring them in-house and have them be part of the organization. There are ways to make this happen permanently or temporarily, but when the teams become an employee of the firm a lot of “intangible stickiness” is created. They will partake in a corporate culture that fosters bonds to create more successful collaboration efforts.