Remote Work Best Practices for Enterprise Software Development Teams
April 07, 2020

Bob Davis
Plutora

With the surge of COVID-19, our daily lives have changed — both personally and professionally. Its impact has caused an entire shift on how we work and where we work.

For now, your entire software development team has to work remotely. For many organizations, the digital transformation efforts that were implemented before the crisis have added another layer in their transition to remote work. In these circumstances, you might be wondering how to successfully manage an IT digital transformation while shifting to a remote team.

Single sources of truth and open channels of communication are key to remote collaboration. Here we'll take a look at what strategies are available for enterprise software development teams to stay connected and productive.

Focus on Becoming Remote

With 43% of all employees working remote part of the time, it's likely that many of your team members are experienced with remote working. This means that your organization has implemented tools for collaboration and security, as well as SaaS applications for work processes like Google Docs or Trello. The major difference now is the shift to total remote work, as opposed to just a day or two a week.

The transition to full-time remote working can be successful if you take the time to set up your new workspace. This includes designating a quiet and well-lit work area, finding the best background for video calls and establishing a consistent schedule. Once you are set up for remote work, you can get back to helping your teams continue their digital transformation.

Communication Among Remote Teams

It's clear that managing a remote team can be tricky. The typical methods of communication — meetings, desk chats, whiteboard sessions — are gone. It is the same for distributed development. At this point, it is crucial to rethink how your teams communicate and collaborate. You can communicate using two methods: asynchronous communication or synchronous. Tools like email, Slack and Basecamp allow for asynchronous communication between teams while video conferencing allows for synchronous communication.

It is best to utilize asynchronous communication as much as possible while working remotely. This will allow your team to manage their time efficiently and cut down on disruptions to workflow.

While asynchronous communication is effective, synchronous communication is vital for building relationships. It is important to allow time for informal communication during virtual meetings. While this is not typical with in-office meetings, it is essential to connect personally while in a remote setting.

As a leader, you will be tasked with setting the new norm. This can be done by exhibiting communication best practices and expectation setting for your team. You and your team will be much more successful if you focus on keeping your channels of communication open. It is important to connect with one another through both formal and informal check-ins. This will prevent the feeling of isolation that typically comes with remote work.

Communication and shared work are the keys to successful collaboration. Now that you're set with your communication tools for remote work, you can begin to focus on creating and aligning shared work. This is essential for eliminating redundancies and delays in project execution.

Remote work poses different challenges when compared to co-located arrangements. For example, the luxury of quickly checking in with colleagues seated right next to you about changing priorities or the updated version of a project is no longer available. Instead, all changes must be documented and available to the team in real-time. Promoting project visibility allows each team member to educate themselves on the current status of work. This will ensure that your team is working together and communicating effectively. The foundation for strong and thoughtful collaboration begins with having a single source of truth. This is essential when tackling your digital transformation remotely.

How Value Stream Management Aids Collaborative Software Development

Managing a software development team while working remotely can be challenging. There are several moving parts that can get lost with the transition to remote work. For instance, the seamless handoffs between development teams have become more difficult and product managers may lose track of the current status of features in the pipeline. These obstacles arise when trying to solve a new problem through reactive communication. This is neither efficient nor effective.

It's crucial for software development teams to focus on collaboration as much as communication in their new remote environment. While communication tools typically remain the same across an organization, collaboration tools may vary. Software development teams need to have their own single source of truth to enable remote collaboration. Value stream management platforms present an end-to-end source of truth that allow software development teams to succeed remotely.

A value stream is any set of activities that deliver a product or service. Looking at software development from this perspective allows teams to manage work from idea to delivery and promotes collaboration. Value stream management platforms provide visibility throughout the toolchain by incorporating tools such as Jenkins, Jira, AWS and ServiceNow into a single platform.

Software development teams can now set a foundation of work transparency through value stream management. Team members will be on the same page with access to self-service learning while allowing managers insight into the work of their team. Value stream management also ensures governance compliance and auditability by delivering complete traceability of software development activities.

Needless to say, value stream management meets your team where they are. It provides end-to-end control of your software development by integrating your current workflow and toolchain. Utilizing the smart dashboards and business intelligence of value stream management platforms, such as Plutora, allows you to continue your digital transformation efforts in spite of COVID-19. By utilizing value stream management, you gain the ability to easily monitor the progress of your portfolio and improve organizational performance in our new remote work world.

Bob Davis is CMO at Plutora
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