Effective Communication with Remote Developers and Teams

Effective Communication with Remote Developer Teams in IT ProjectsIf you executing a project with developers or teams working remotely you must have faced the communication issues. Whether the developer teams work off-site within your country or offshore in another country – the communication challenges are same. These challenges are even more critical in IT App development or other IT projects where a regular communication is like lifeline.

However, the landscape is changing with the advancement of communication technology, availability of talent across geographies, and opening global borders. The IT projects these days typically involve team located geographically apart. In a recent project that I worked – we had client team in USA, client’s users located in over fifteen countries across the world, the development team was located off-site within USA, support team was offshore in India, testing team was in Asia and Mexico, and two of the product vendors were located in South America and Ireland. It was amazing to see the teams located apart working coherently with a common objective.

Effective communication between teams across boundaries is important to deliver an application within required time frame with fewest issues possible. Communication is vital in ensuring any project’s success if more than one person is involved in that project.

With our experience in remote App development on Force.com and offshore CRM implementations of Salesforce.com, Zoho CRM and Microsoft Dynamics CRM – we have come up with some of the best practices that help organizations to effectively communicate with remote developers and teams.

Have a project communication plan

Having a well defined project communication plan keeps everyone on the same page. A project with a communication plan has greater chance of failure than a project having a well defined communication plan. This can be a very simple documented plan that includes plans for regular meetings and frequency of meetings, reporting structure and schedule of sending reports, the mode and tools used for communication etc. Having any new team members go through this plan will ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Use technology to communicate

The dependence on age old method of phone and email communication may not be enough. There is nothing wrong with these methods – but modern methods to hold meetings and calls have more advantages. We recommend usage of Webex or Go To Meeting for conducting meetings. And use of Google Talk or Skype for chat and calls. These tools bring down the cost as well as offer the additional features that many not be available in traditional way of communication.

Personally I found Group Chat / Call feature of Skype very useful. We now recommend each project in our organization to have a Skype group and everyone chats project related items only on that group. That way all the project team members are kept informed and at the same time history is maintained.

Collaborate – not just communicate

There are hundreds of technical softwares available that will help your team collaborate effectively while working on projects. The traditional project applications are also now on the cloud and can help your team collaborate on the project. Here are some of the low cost tools that we recommend for project teams to collaborate and work together:

  • Document Sharing & Collaboration
    • Google Drive
    • Google Docs
    • Google Sites
    • Google Calendar
    • Gmail
  • Project & Task Management
    • Zoho Projects
    • Teamwork Project Management
    • Trello
    • Producteev
  • Other Project Tools
    • Lucid Charts
    • Mindmeister
    • Jira
    • Github
  • Communication
    • Google Talk
    • Skype
    • Go To Meeting
    • Webex
    • Teamviewer

Have regular communication

Lastly – have regular communication. We suggest to have a daily team meeting – a review meeting or a stand up call. If you have a large team have multiple meeting with different teams – but at a predefined regular interval. In most projects we recommend a daily fixed time call to discuss the project issues. The meetings details are documents in a project tool like Teamwork or Google site dashboard.

About Ravi Kiran

Ravi Kiran works as a Sales Consultant with Dhruvsoft. He looks after Business Development and Sales of Salesforce.com and Zoho services for Dhruvsoft at Hyderabad region. He lives in Hyderabad and has interest in reading business books.

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