Just some months ago, everyone working together in a single office or network of locations was a given. Collaboration across many different areas — even overseas — seemed like a distant possibility, if even that. That’s no longer the case.
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted the way people work. But even before the virus shook the entire world, less traditional work models had begun to take hold across many different industries. Thanks to technologies that enable remote work and collaborations, this is not only possible but also a more practical alternative.
Perhaps because the technology industry is always at the cutting edge of innovation, distributed software development has become a powerful structure for increasing productivity and efficiency and improving the overall business. During COVID-19, this has become the go-to model for software development — one that can allow your business to persist and thrive through a turbulent period for everyone.
What Is Distributed Software Development?
When software development teams collaborate remotely across many different locations, that’s a distributed model. These teams often leverage technology like communication platforms and project management software to ensure everyone involved is kept in the loop on all the goings-on. Sometimes, different teams will work on individual projects that contribute to the larger picture rather than working on a single project in multiple locations.
Distributed software development can work across geographical barriers, but nearshore outsourcing is advantageous because the teams will be in the same or similar time zones, resulting in more expedient communication and fewer delays.
Benefits of the Distributed Model
Distributed software development comes with a lot of benefits.
Businesses that use the distributed model save money on costs like facilities and equipment. This is a good option for all businesses, but startups especially turn to the model when they’re getting off the ground to avoid expensive overhead costs. You can also save money by hiring outsourcing or full-time teams in developing countries.
Access to Widespread Talent
Staying within the confines of your geographic region can be limiting since you’ll only be able to access local talent. But if you need particular specialties, you may not be able to find them closeby. Using distributed software development allows you to leverage skill sets from all over the world, from Latin America to Asia.
Greater Efficiency and Productivity
Less time traveling to the office means more time actually working on software. Distributed software teams are more than that — combined with the manpower and talent of nearshore and offshore locations, you can increase productivity and efficiency by having teams work collectively on projects that extend beyond your headquarters.
You can also ensure that teams are more focused on projects by cutting down on their commute time and ramping up the time they can spend working on your project.
Why Does the Distributed Model Make Sense During COVID-19?
As we all well know, the COVID-19 pandemic has made the work-from-home model more prevalent. In the digital age, this seems like it would be relatively simple to accomplish, with so many tools at our disposal. Having talent spread out across different regions and even countries can help you keep your critical processes going during a tumultuous and chaotic period. The distributed model will allow you to persist and thrive until the crisis subsides.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges associated with turning to distributed software development during the pandemic, especially if you were forced to make the shift because of the emergency situation rather than by choice.
Collaboration can be more difficult, of course. Plus, software developers are coping with the difficulties COVID-19 has presented to everyone — children attending school remotely, an inability to find personal space, and work-home life separation imbalance. With the economic suffering, the very structure of your company may feel less sturdy.
Still, distributed software development is generally the best option for keeping your business productive during COVID-19. Remember that it has a lot of advantages at any time, and these benefits become all the more critical during the pandemic.
Tips for Making It Work
Here’s what you need to know.
Emphasize Your Values
When teams are working together remotely in different locations, there must be an overarching sense of purpose and knowledge that you’re all working together toward a common goal. In order to make your teamwork and projects cohesive, make sure everyone knows and has your company’s mission and values in mind.
Make Resources Available
All remote employees and providers should have access to any vital resources that will allow them to do their jobs. These include project-management and collaboration tools like Trello and Jira, cloud-storage and sharing software like Dropbox, and any other pertinent files and programs.
Of course, communication is paramount when you’re employing distributed software development. Given that you won’t be able to see your teams in person, you’ll need to nail down communication strategies and schedule meetings, while carrying out your conversations over a video conferencing or chat platform.
Meetings should always have purposes so you’re not wasting anyone’s time. Create agendas and allow others to have input in establishing them.
Create a Culture of Connection
Foster teamwork and collaboration by building a culture of connections. Provide means for team members to not only work together on projects but also develop personal connections. These bonds will help people perform better in general. In order to help build these relationships, provide times to meet informally on video conferencing platforms or other communication channels.
You can also support this type of culture by offering encouragement to help motivate workers and develop your own rapport with team members.
Plan for the Future
Consider whether you’ll continue using a distributed software development model after the pandemic has subsided, no matter what you were doing before. Also, think about what kinds of effects COVID-19 will have on your technology operations and how distributed development might mitigate longer-term problems as you plan ahead.
With so much chaos during the current pandemic, your software model should be something you can rely on. When done with planning and care, distributed software development can be a reliable means of delivering quality work while leveraging remote teams. In fact, it may be something you employ well into the future.