The Ultimate Guide To Managing Remote Teams

The Ultimate Guide To Managing Remote Teams During and Post COVID-19

The impact of COVID-19 is far from over. In fact, we don’t yet know how far into the future the effects of COVID-19 will be seen. Some would say forever. Whether or not this proves true, one thing is certain: the shift to a remote workforce and the digital age is in a period of rapid acceleration. Therefore, businesses and organizations all across the globe have been making the shift to a remote workforce. With that shift, however, there are new workflows. New communication tools. And other new tactics that your company needs for managing remote teams.

First and foremost, with a remote workforce there are certain perks your company can use to their advantage. For instance, when managing a remote team, your company can utilize a much more flexible schedule. With employees at home, there isn’t as much pressure or urgency to get things done in a certain timeframe; and therefore tasks can be accomplished throughout the entire span of the day, and even into the night, without staff feeling overwhelmed.

A Decrease In Time-Wasters Improves Efficiency

Additionally, a decrease in “time-wasting” activities that only affected in-person staff improves efficiency. One such example is the commute to-and-from-work. Without a daily commute, employees are able to spend more time with their families and in their own home. This, therefore, leads to a stronger sense of work-life-balance, and a happier employee overall.

On average, remote employees are happier and have a better sense of work-life-balance, which usually leads to stronger performances at work. The mood of a staff-member directly affects their productivity, meaning that in the case of managing a remote team, your staff, on average, could have a significantly higher rate of productivity.

Understanding Expectations When Managing Remote Teams

When hiring or transitioning to a remote workforce, one of the core principles is to establish expectations. This is the same as it would be with in-person workers. However, it’s important to have a clear understanding of expectations from the very beginning when managing remote teams. While communication is important in every relationship context, it is specifically vital to managing a remote team. There is a lot of nuance to communication in-person. Between body-language and other non-verbals. However, most communication in a remote environment is non-visual. Hence why communication is so vital to managing remote teams.

Additionally, since many companies are utilizing more flexible scheduling with remote teams; it’s logical that expectations need to be set on both sides of the coin. These details should include things like time-commitment, weekly tasks, compensation, and everything else that would define the employees role and their relationship to the company.

Emphasizing Communication

As discussed above, communication is an integral aspect to any and every relationship. No matter the context. In managing remote teams, communication is more than essential. It truly is a vital aspect of successful teams working remotely. Correspondingly, then, it goes to reason that companies shifting to a remote workforce would want to implement business applications for communication. There are a myriad of business applications that your company can choose to use for communicating internally and externally.

Internally speaking, Slack is extremely popular as a part instant-messaging and part-email communication solution. Zoom is another company that has blown up astronomically since the onset of the pandemic. With global companies, domestic companies, and everyone in between needing reliable and consistent video conferencing capability; Zoom saw an unbelievable amount of growth in 2020, and set some records for themselves while at it.

There are many other internal communication solutions that you can implement for your remote staff, and even softwares that allow you to set up incentives for your team. This lets the culture of your company thrive even in a remote setting post COVID-19. Some incentive-based-softwares for remote teams are all managed by the leaders and decision makers, while others encourage and promote inter-colleague connections.

In other words, colleagues and co-workers can reward each other on a job well done with an internal currency that can then be redeemed for prizes, gifts, vacations, or even donated to a charity of the recipients choice. These are all great solutions to keep your company culture alive, and incentivize your remote staff to keep working hard and hitting goals.

Providing Some Structure When Managing Remote Teams

While flexible schedules and a stronger sense of work-life-balance are great; business is business, and work needs to get done. To help provide some structure to your remote staffs workweek or work-day, and to ensure that tasks are being accomplished managers and team leaders can schedule regular check-ins.

These check-ins might mimic the exact structure of a daily or weekly check-in that you’d conduct in the office. The only difference being that these check-ins occur remotely. Whether that be via a phone call, or a quick video-chat, a swift one-on-one with each of your remote workers is a great way to not only connect about work, but also get to know your workers and ensure they’re doing okay during these trying times.

Encourage Team Building and Team Bonding

Just because the world is shifting to a digital age and a majorly remote workforce, doesn’t mean that team members can’t connect and bond with one another. There are plenty of options for managers overseeing remote work teams who are looking for ways to bond the team. Some examples might be a virtual film-showing, or a remote happy-hour. Another popular choice is the remote pizza party.

However, while there’s nothing wrong with any of the above choices, staff and employees often enjoy trying something new. Being creative with team bonding exercises has gotten a little harder with the pandemic limiting so many options. Yet, where there’s a will, there’s a way, as the old saying goes.

For instance, Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) can be an excellent team-building and team-bonding activity. For starters, D&D is all about a group working together, and usually overcoming a few character flaws or group-issues as well. But beyond that, good D&D campaigns, or even one-shots, require the team to think outside the box, put together some creative solutions, and ultimately work together. All in the context of having a good time, and maybe a few drinks.

Use Project Management Tools

While there are some differences and adaptations to managing remote teams, there are some similarities too. For instance, your managers can likely use the same project management software or project management tools that they were using in person. Transitioning to a remote use of these project management softwares is really simple, and they are already built for it, making it an easy and simple transition.

Using project management software when managing remote teams will allow you to set daily and weekly to-do lists, and share updates on project timelines with the whole team.

Wrapping Up

The world is changing rapidly. The shift to a virtual age and a digital workforce is upon us. Many companies are already prepared for the remote environment. Many others are preparing for the shift. Either way, it’s important to be able to properly manage a remote work team and remote customers.

For more information on the shift to the digital age, or managing remote teams, visit NS804 today.

The Waterfall UX Process: Everything You Need To Know

When developing mobile apps, we need to consider various project management approaches, such as the Waterfall UX process. After all, we retain users by utilizing methodologies and strategies for UI/UX that work. And we want to reduce the associated risks of creating apps via a well-thought-out Waterfall software development process.

But you may be wondering if this is the right methodology for your upcoming project or considering alternatives such as Agile. Well, we’ll shed some light on these matters and compare both methodologies below.

1. What Is The Waterfall Methodology

 

The Waterfall methodology is a project management paradigm initially used in construction and manufacturing but later adopted by software developers. All project tasks are split into phases that follow a linear sequence that flows downwards, similarly to a waterfall, hence the naming convention. It’s a fairly straightforward process but far more rigid than alternative models such as agile.

2. Does The Waterfall UX Process Work

 

Users expect modern apps to have intuitive and responsive UX. And a few ways to keep these users satisfied is by simplifying the user journey, organizing content, personalizing apps, adding biometric authentication features, and minimizing data input. But how does a development team hash out their UX process to create engaging apps? The good news is that the Waterfall methodology works incredibly well for UX, which many developers utilize.

A well-trodden Waterfall UX process works as follows:

  • Initiate research and determine all core problems
  • Categorize all these problems
  • Generate journey maps and personas
  • Hold brainstorming sessions to come up with new ideas
  • Create a prototype and test it
  • Begin developing the product based on the prototype
  • Release the product
  • Gather user feedback and return to the first phase

Overall, this process brings about satisfactory results as long as the UX isn’t updated regularly. However, many design-led mobile app developers prefer to update their UX in shorter cadences. In such a scenario, a Waterfall process isn’t the most suitable methodology. Thus, a growing number of developers utilize Lean and Agile methodologies instead.

3. The Main Parts Of The Waterfall Software Development Process

 

A typical Waterfall software development process consists of either five or seven phases following a stringent linear sequence. The naming of phases may vary, but these are the commonly used descriptors:

Requirements – Project managers gather all necessary customer requirements during this initial phase. Then, without further customer input, the remaining phases in the waterfall sequence are planned out.

Design – Design consists of a logical design and a physical design phase. Logical design involves the brainstorming and theorization of solutions, while physical design necessitates the establishment of specifications based on these theories.

Implementation – The development team’s programmers start writing code based on the requirements and specifications from the above phases.

Verification – During the verification phase, the customer receives the finished product to review. The customer will then ascertain whether or not the product meets their requirements.

Maintenance – The customer regularly uses the product and gradually discovers bugs and other faults. Then, the maintenance team makes the necessary fixes based on customer feedback.

4. Pros And Cons Of Waterfall

 

The Waterfall software development process has several pros and cons that you should consider before commencing any upcoming projects. Unfortunately, the Waterfall model has gained an undeserved reputation among many developers nowadays. They often claim that it’s inefficient and outdated due to its rigid structure. However, it’s still widely used in enterprise, game, and mobile app development.

Waterfall’s clear structure makes it easy for developers to understand and complete tasks. And since tasks must be completed in sequence, this diminishes the possibility of unfinished and unpolished apps. Furthermore, if the developer can commit to a set release date, then it’s easy to predict the end goal and production costs.

On the flipside, Waterfall’s rigid structure makes it difficult to implement changes. Any sudden change or revision will likely derail the project and extend the time to market (TTM). Another negative is that the customer or end-user doesn’t have a say during the development process and provides valuable feedback that benefits the project. Finally, testing takes place near the end of the process, which may lead to costly and time-consuming revisions.

5. Waterfall Methodology Vs Agile

 

Whether in the canteen or around the water cooler, it’s common for developers to engage in Waterfall methodology vs Agile debates. Since neither methodology is better than the other, it’s difficult to settle on a clear winner. However, they both have several notable differences that are worth discussing.

We’ve already gone over Waterfall’s rigid structure, which makes it difficult to implement changes. Well, Agile is the complete opposite and allows for a more iterative approach at shorter time scales. However, do keep changes to a minimum to avoid a budget overrun. After all, Agile lacks the predictability of Waterfall, making it less suitable for determining cost and time factors.

While Waterfall’s ideal for projects with clearly defined end goals, this isn’t the case for Agile. Customers are often uncertain about how a project should turn out and prefer to determine the result through trial and error. Agile’s flexible approach facilitates user feedback throughout the development process and fine-tuning the project accordingly.

6. What Projects Work Best With Waterfall

 

Waterfall works best for smaller projects and those that have a fixed budget, release date, and scope. It’s also a good choice for any application that doesn’t require frequent updates. And the team structure of the developer may determine if Waterfall is the way to go. For example, if contractors and remote workers will also be contributing to the project, then Waterfall’s clean and straightforward structure makes it suitable. Moreover, the customer may not have the time or inclination to follow the entire development process and only wishes to see the finished product.

7. Should You Use Waterfall And Agile Together?

 

It usually makes sense to deliberate over Waterfall Methodology Vs Agile, especially when embarking on mobile app development. But sometimes, depending on the project, it may be necessary to embrace both methodologies. Ideally, you’ll want to form a hybrid methodology that combines the positive aspects of both models but without any of the negative.

By implementing the Water-Scrum-Fall paradigm, it’s possible to have a hybrid methodology that works effectively. Project leaders operate within the Waterfall paradigm, but the development team functions in an Agile environment and only integrates with the Waterfall structure via the Scrum team. However, it’s challenging to run Agile and Waterfall processes concurrently. But worthwhile if you’re employing Continuous Delivery in your DevOps pipeline for your app development endeavors.

The Bottom Line

 

The Waterfall methodology has played a significant role in software development for many decades. It may seem outdated, especially for newer developers accustomed to an Agile environment. However, Waterfall still has its place and can be made to work with Agile if necessary. Contact us now, and find out how NS804 can help bring your mobile app ideas to life.

Choosing the Proper Tech Stack

The tech industry moves at a rapid pace, meaning that hardly a month goes by without us hearing about a new tech stack or two. But since current trends in mobile app development encourage the adoption of newer technologies, it’s vital to make the right choice. After all, not all tech stacks are created equal, and there’s a notable difference between native and hybrid app development. We’ll take a look at six tech stacks and reveal when and where they should be used.

1. Purpose Of Choosing The Tech Stack

 

Current trends in mobile app development include the adoption of tech stacks that facilitate cost-effectiveness, efficiency, scalability, and speed. Tech stacks consist of frameworks, libraries, programming languages, and tools that aid the development process. Furthermore, one can find tech stacks for both front-end and back-end development. For example, React is a popular front-end JavaScript library, while Java is a widely-used programming language for back-end development.

2. React Tech Stack

 

React is a battle-tested open-source library that’s maintained by Facebook and various other companies and developers. It’s a web-based technology but has gained traction within the mobile app development space.

React Native, in particular, is a wrapper that allows developers to code in JavaScript while rendering to the native APIs used by Android & iOS. It compiles all UI components into the native languages of the target platform, namely: Java or Objective C/Swift. However, all non-UI specific code remains in JavaScript, meaning that it’s a hybrid and not a native solution. Thus, it’s a good choice for easy deployment to both platforms, but with a possible performance penalty.

3. Java Tech Stack

 

It’s usually a good idea to approach custom mobile app development with the view of supporting both Android & iOS. But we understand that’s not always possible, and you may only want to support Android. In that case, it makes sense to focus exclusively on native app development by using a Java tech stack. Development can be done almost entirely with Android Studio and its SDK tools, which are powerful and well-documented. And since all code is in Java, expect optimal performance due to the language’s excellent memory management and multi-threaded capabilities.

4. Kotlin Tech Stack

 

Java isn’t the only game in town for native Android development. In recent years, we’ve witnessed the growing popularity of Kotlin, which seems like a natural evolution of Java. Created by JetBrains, a company behind many popular IDEs and development tools, Kotlin improves upon Java in several areas. It offers better security, cleaner syntax, enhanced thread handling, and is more lightweight.

Furthermore, Kotlin’s cross-platform capabilities make it a good candidate for iOS development too. Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile allows developers to keep all their business logic in Kotlin and only write in different languages for platform-specific APIs and UI. While Kotlin does save development time, do consider all potential hidden costs, especially when cross-developing.

5. Swift Tech Stack

 

Swift is Apple’s flagship programming language, which allows developers to target iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS. It shares many similarities to its successor languages: C & Objective-C. However, Swift’s ease-of-use, modern features, and safety make it ideal for custom mobile app development on iOS. It also utilizes the renowned LLVM compiler that outputs optimized native code that takes advantage of Apple’s modern hardware.

Keeping in line with current trends in mobile app development, Swift is supported by several IDEs and code editors. Apple’s own Xcode is a popular choice, but some developers prefer JetBrains’ AppCode or an open-source alternative such as Atom. If you’re targeting Apple devices, then Swift is the way to go due to its excellent performance and rich feature set.

6. Progressive Web Apps Tech Stack

 

Progressive Web Apps (PWA) are a cross between mobile apps and mobile websites while functioning similarly to native apps. It’s a relatively straightforward and quick process to download and install a PWA from a website. But what makes PWAs so compelling is that they run within the browser but can be installed on the user’s device and then accessed from the home screen.

They’re a good choice for custom mobile app development while avoiding some of the associated risks and pitfalls. Furthermore, developers can release their apps outside the walled gardens of the app stores. At NS804, we recommend native solutions for the best possible user experience, but there are cases where hybrid solutions have their place.

Must Have Apps For Managing Remote Teams

Managing Remote Teams With Must Have Apps

The shift toward a digital age has been long in the works, however, 202 has accelerated that transition. This is, in part, due to COVID-19 and the way that our society has shifted to limit person-to-person contact. As such, companies have had to embrace the digital age as well. This has brought many to adopt a variety of applications for managing remote teams.

As with any new process or system, there are challenges that come with managing remote teams. For example, one challenge that companies must address in managing remote teams is keeping communication channels open. Many companies have addressed communication challenges with multiple apps.

Solving Communication Challenges

Communication has always been an integral aspect of business. However, as the transition to the digital age continues communication’s role is becoming even more emphasized. One of the most popular apps in 2020 was Zoom. The digital-conferencing and video-calling features have helped communication lines stay alive across the country and even the world. Likewise, they’ve helped professionals in managing remote teams and staying connected both internally and externally. This is significantly important as Zoom has set a variety of user-records in 2020 with an astronomical growth spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic and the accelerated shift into the digital age.

Beyond using Zoom, Slack is another extremely popular application for communication. Slack works as both an email-replacement and an instant-messaging platform for internal business purposes. It’s a great application as it offers users the ability to create and manage multiple channels. Then those channels are populated by team-specific personnel. Administration can limit and control access as well, making sure that only the right people are involved in the right conversations.

Additionally, companies still need to successfully manage projects. Zoom is great for holding and hosting meetings. Slack is a strong collaboration and internal communication solution for teams. Trello, however, remains a strong project-management software. Trello allows for easy scheduling and tracking of project progress. This keeps everyone on the same page. Simultaneously, these three applications in concert makes managing remote teams easier.

The final aspect of communication that businesses and companies need to rely on is document sharing. While there are plenty of options for mass-document sharing, and file-sharing solutions one of the most prominent is the Google-Docs Suite. Using Google Docs, professionals can share access to important files like proposals, and presentations, spreadsheets, and any type of document you might need to create.

Wrapping Up

The application industry has taken off during 2020. Specifically, this is because of the reliance that the business community has had on communication solutions. Zoom is an extremely popular video-conferencing software that businesses use to conduct video-calls, Slack is a great collaboration tool for internal teams. Meanwhile, Trello and Google Suites tackle the project-management and file-sharing aspects of managing remote teams.

In addition to keeping communication channels wide open and operating smoothly, there are even more applications that managers and team-leaders can use to promote team-bonding and team building. One great example of this is using Dungeons and Dragons as a team-building exercise. And with the development of Roll20, even this can be taken remote.

Of course, even beyond all of these solutions, custom apps are still widely in use as well. For more information on managing remote teams and communication solutions, visit NS804 today.