How Do Effective Distributed Virtual Tech Teams Create Robust Software?

Working with Different Time Zones and How it Can Benefit Your Business

There is a misconception that to have an effective development team, they need to be onsite and in the office right next to you. Not only is this bad for scaling on a physical and financial level, but it can also be detrimental for future growth and organizational structure. 

Having a distributed and virtual tech team isn’t as alien as it sounded back in the early 2000s. With a matured global and digitally connected tech workforce, developers and businesses are becoming accustomed to the ideas of remote and noshore work. Taking your software development project to a different timezone is a growing industry practice that can help leverage skill droughts in your local vicinity and leverage external economies of scale. 

But the question is, how do effective distributed virtual tech teams create robust software? And is it even possible?

Great Management = Great Teams

A business’ ability to function depends on effective and efficient software. Sometimes, a business becomes deadlocked by their own systems because they’re just not in the business of building software. 

This is often one of the main reasons why project budget bleeds occur and ineffective local teams are hired — not because the developers themselves aren’t capable of coding robust code, but rather because the guiding hand isn’t as experienced in the task of managing such a team.

Having expert external management that interfaces between the business and the development team can help foster effective software solutions through good practice process establishments. This is because the external management is the technology expert that bridges the gap between developers and the business, who are experts in their own domain of operations.

This is a vital component when it comes to working with external and virtual distributed tech teams, where coordination between timezones, project requirements communication and quality control is required. 

Great Processes = Effective Software Workflows

There’s more to software development than just coding. There is also infrastructure and systems architecting. Processes are the connectors between the different ancillary parts of software development and continuous delivery. 

In-house teams struggle to establish good coding pipelines, not because developers are unskilled, but rather because there is a talent and knowledge gap in the local vicinity. With a remote team, you are opening up your business to a global pool of talent rather than just your city’s edges. 

When it comes to remote, “no-shore” and virtual digital teams, the quality of implemented processes materializes immediately. However, with in-house teams, the instant accessibility to your developers can give your business a false sense of security and you may think that things are moving along as they should when they are not. 

This is because each team member in a digital team is highly accountable for their tasks and there is an intrinsic need for visibility of progress by stakeholders. Meetings that are held hold a higher degree of value due to considerations of timezones and the availability of others on the team. Clear and concise communication is required, without embellishment, especially when there are differences in native languages. 

Potential 24-hour workforce

It is undisputed that there are 24 hours in a day and that while many developers may be willing to work for up to 80 hours a week, it is highly unsustainable on a productive output level and for the health of your developers. 

When developers are tired and burned out, the quality of the software produced tends to slide. With a distributed and “no-shore” virtual team, there is potential for a 24-hour workforce that is much healthier for each individual and better for results in the business. 

Timezones make this possible because as one developer clocks out after committing their portion of a bigger picture, another is waking up to continue with the task. Bugs, errors and any misunderstanding in the brief is also picked up faster and often within a 24-hour cycle rather than days. 

Forced to evaluate change requests

Effective and robust software is created when good developers are established with processes that are able to detect bugs in the code, blips in the logic and errors in data.

However, this is often one of the last things addressed in an in-house team, in part because businesses are excited and distracted by the physicality of having developers next to them. Things often get changed or commented on prematurely. This breaks the process of developing code and can result in shaky software as developers work their hardest to fulfill new and potentially on the fly requirements.

With remote teams, there is a slight delay due to time differences and is often enforced with the process of solidifying requirements first before committing to the changes. This act of slowing down helps keep the software delivery cycle stable and predictable. This cycle is often interrupted when there is an in-house team. 

Final thoughts

Big businesses are doing it. Startups are doing it. However, creating an effective distributed and virtual tech team takes good leadership from domain experts. Robustness and software stability is not just based on skill but also the ability to detect issues as they arise, in addition to addressing them in a timely manner.

Sometimes, the business just doesn’t have the right kind of experience or expertise to manage such a team. Everyone has their own specialized skills and it takes good leadership to acknowledge and accept this. Software management specialists are able to construct and maintain remote teams that produce software that is needed by the business. 

So is it possible to create virtual distributed teams that are able to deliver on time and at an acceptable quality? The answer is yes — but it takes good leadership and processes to do so.

Co-authored by:

Dave Wesley ~ President, SRG

Aphinya Dechalert ~ Marketing Communications, SRG