10 Steps to Choosing a Reliable Remote Team
Over the course of my career, I’ve analyzed a few dozen cases of remote team compilation. I’m excited to guide you through this very process and have assembled a guide to the best practice techniques I’ve developed along the way.
At Diceus, we have worked with a remote team in another office in Rivne, Ukraine. We act as a single team to develop software products for our partners. Having maintained an active cooperation for a few years now, we can safely say that we know how to build a good relationship with a remote team.
The photo featured on the left shows our company’s main office, while the image on the right is of an outsourced company working remotely. These two parties work in close collaboration to achieve the best results possible.
Hiring a contracted team to work remotely doesn’t differ much from recruiting a new in-house team to work inside your office. However, it may take some time for your teams to adjust. Be prepared for this effort to take a while, especially if it is your first time.
Knowing about potential troubles you might face beforehand will help you avoid common challenges.
Step #1: Verify the Expertise of Each Teammate
Every single person on the team you work with should have a level of expertise that inspires confidence in their abilities. Remote companies typically act as an intermediary to liaise between you and the teammates they dedicate to your project. How can you be sure they’re giving you accurate information?
Here are five ways to check teammates’ credentials:
- View candidates’ LinkedIn profiles to review their education and experience.
- Assess any public contributions they’ve made to open-source projects on GitHub or similar platforms.
- Hold a live discussion or Q&A session to pose in-depth questions about their qualifications.
- Assign them a small test. Tasks of this nature should take less than 30 minutes to complete and should be measurable.
Step #2: Double-Check Reviews and Portfolios
Outsourcing vendors often paint an appealing picture of their success to attract more clients. Verify their story by reading feedback from past clients exclusively on credible websites.
Along with verified client reviews, reviews on objective third-party platforms include research and analysis you can use to narrow down the best B2B providers in the industry for your business needs.
Clutch is a data-driven B2B ratings and reviews platform that connects businesses with the leading agencies or consultants that are best equipped to tackle their next big business challenge. The only firm to produce client reviews based on formal interviews conducted by business analysts.
The image above shows an example of a leaders matrix Clutch developed to highlight 15 of the top mobile app developers internationally. The team uses a sophisticated scoring methodology to identify market leaders with a proven ability to deliver across the B2B space.
During your search for a remote team, using a third-party entity to verify your selection will help you find the right partner for your business needs. Reading about the experiences of other clients like you and seeing the results of vendors’ work firsthand lets you evaluate the expertise of the team from a variety of angles. Consider whether the B2B partner you’re considering can manage to finish tasks on time and deliver a high-quality final product.
Step #3: Hold an Initial In-Person Meeting or Video Call
Whether you want to start working with one freelancer or a group of people, it’s important to ensure you will finish the project with the same person or team. To make sure this is the case, hold video calls regularly throughout the engagement.
If possible, meeting in person is the best-case scenario. Seeing the developers face-to-face lets you ensure the team consists of the same players from start to finish. A best practice is to start a regular cadence of check-ins right from the first interview.
Popular apps you can use include the following options:
- Google Hangouts
Staff turnover is a common issue in the offshores contracting space, especially for development. We recommend using this process for any type of cooperation with offshore vendors. We’ve heard of a few cases where there were different people talking to a client during each new call.
Step #4: Track an Outsourcing Team’s History Online
Imagine the following situation: You hire a certified developer with over five years of experience with PHP developer on his resume. Based on market research, you know that it’s hard to find such a qualified person, so you’re delighted he or she will be able to take care of your project.
Pause for a moment and consider an unfortunate reality: Do you know for sure that the advertised qualifications and years of experience are true?
We have observed many cases when a client was introduced to a person that doesn’t exist in real life. Instead, the “dream developer” a firm claimed to have was nothing more than CV on a piece of paper. The actual person clients end up working with might have an entirely different name or background if they exist at all.
What are the ways to check if your future team players really exist? Try using social media and other thematic platforms that host communities for developers. You shouldn’t evaluate personal traits, habits, or personal preferences. The goal here should be to check whether the person is real.
Below are the most popular websites that are widely used by major companies that outsource:
- LinkedIn is a great place to find a candidate with the right qualifications to meet your requirements. On this site, you can see your connections’ activity and whether they have any interactions with other people.
- Facebook and Instagram are platforms for much more personal use, but they're still a good way to find out more about your employees.
- Quora is the best place to check proficiency by asking questions and getting answers about your future team players. Since it’s often anonymous, past clients might feel more at liberty to be candid and honest.
- Github is an excellent website to check if a developer has ever contributed code or taken part in creating projects.
Step #5: Choose the Right Location
You will probably consider hiring several different companies to work with before making a selection and taking this fifth step. Most places you search will feature the most options from Eastern Europe or India. These destinations differ greatly in a matter of cost, culture, and approach to performing tasks.
Be mindful of the time zone difference between your company and the team you engage. Significant discrepancies can hamper the ease of communication and impact how you feel about working with an offshore team.
Clients tend to feel the most comfortable with a time zone difference of up to 12 hours. Staying within this window will enable you to hold video calls in the mornings or in evenings your time without making anyone from the contracted teamwork in the middle of the night.
Step #6: Assess Technology Stack Choices, Deadlines, and Milestones
The goal of any software vendor is to generate a profit, so it’s natural that many vendors feel incentivized to raise their prices. Some providers estimate too high of a cost based on the choice of technology stack or number of people on a team.
Ask potential partners what each resource will specifically work on for you. Each person on the team you hire should have a clear and intuitive role and purpose for being involved.
When the vendor presents a proposal for the technology they plan to use, request corresponding explanations for why they selected a specific stack. Have them outline the benefits it offers for your specific project, requirements, and overarching goals.
Some of the most widely-used technology stacks are listed below:
- LAMP: This open source and highly secure stack runs on a LINUX operating system. Compared to other software architecture stacks, this one can be acquired at a relatively low price.
- MEAN: All MEAN stack technologies are open source and available for free. This stack aids the development process using libraries and public repositories while reducing costs. The MongoDB database it includes can deploy cloud functionalities within the app to reduce the cost of disk space.
- Ruby on Rails: As one of the easiest stacks to learn, this is the stack of choice for a large number of developers.
- Django: This solution is an excellent choice if you anticipate having massive traffic flows.
Total prices are usually higher when a contract includes a project manager. If you have your own in-house employee for project management to lead the project or prefer to communicate with the developers directly, you might not need a dedicated resource from the outsourced team’s side.
If your project is on the larger side, divide it into milestones to make assessing the team’s work easier. For example, the average timeframe of developing a new app is estimated at three months. Dividing this period into new milestones every four weeks splits your project into three parts. At the end of each phase, have the team send you a report that outlines what they accomplished during that time.
Step #7: Monitor the Remote Team’s Workflow
Do you feel comfortable about the daily hours your team actually spends working? If you’re worried that they waste time during the day, use tracking software such as Time Doctor or Hubstaff to oversee the workflow.
Once you download and install one of these apps, it will randomly take screenshots of teammates’ computer screens throughout the day. Common features include compiling a list of the apps a worker used and the webpages they visited.
This screenshot of a Hubspot workflow showcases a simple tool you can use to monitor the activity performed by a remote team.
Leveraging project management software enables you to effortlessly discover how many hours developers spend on specific tasks and what websites they visited during working hours. You can also view screenshots of their activity through this type of platform.
Programs like these help you stay involved and updated with your remote team's work.
Step #8: Check on the Support Team’s Involvement
When you sign a contract from a software vendor, it will almost certainly include a promise that their support team will be ready to solve all your problems and answer questions whenever you need.
Regardless of what commitment a team makes to you, we recommend examining it more closely as you start the cooperation. Ask a set of simple questions:
- Can I call you at night?
- What is the protocol if you can’t meet a deadline?
- What was the worst problem you’ve had with past clients and partners?
- Do you know your teammates personally?
Based on the answers they send back, you will not only gain further insight on their qualifications but also evaluate how long it takes them to respond to you.
Step #9: Schedule Regular Calls and Check-Ins with Remote Teams
Keep up with a dedicated team the same way you do with your in-house staff. Discuss how often you will have video calls and how much time they will take. Find the best variant for both sides so as not to distract remote teammates from their work. Conversely, they shouldn’t be too seldom. If you don’t check in frequently enough, the team might forget about your project or become delayed with progress.
Negotiate a deal about how often the team will get in touch with you. If your project is complex and you’ll have frequent questions, you can hold discussions on a daily basis. Touching base twice a week should suffice if there are no urgent questions during that time.
A dedicated project manager can keep you informed about the team’s progress while avoiding the potential to interfere with productivity or distract developers from their work.
Step #10: Hire Auditors to Analyze a Remote Team’s Progress
Hiring professional auditors is optional, but highly recommended unless you have the internal resources to conduct an audit for you.
The purpose of this final step is to compare the scope to the real-life deliverable and see if the final results coincide with what the remote team promised to provide. Auditors will compare the requirements you documented in the contract with the product the team actually delivered to you.
Be Diligent in Evaluating Your Remote Team
Hiring a remote team may seem like a daunting task, but if you follow these 10 steps, you'll find the team with the skills that complement those of your in-house staff.
Be sure to verify the team's expertise, keep an open line of communication, and stay involved in the work of the remote team.
If any doubts, questions, or worries arise, promptly discuss them with your remote team to ensure everyone is on the same page.