Keys to Success and Increased Productivity with a Remote / Distributed R&D team

Software programmerThe decision to create a remote or distributed R&D team can often be a laborious decision, laden with various obstacles, ranging from budget to logistics to finding the right personnel.

Invariably the decision to go down the remote/distributed road will mean the hiring of an outsourcing team to jump some of those obstacles (something we touched on here) but there are still a number of factors that really have to be considered to ensure success, whether or not you use an outsourcing provider.

Is your organization ready?

The first key to success in our opinion is ensuring your organization is actually ready for such a setup. What this means is that there should already be openness and good communication between departments, ensuring an element of trust and co-operation that can hopefully continue with the scaling up involved when implementing a remote / distributed team. Without that trust and openness in place, the decision to go remote could be paved with yet more obstacles, at least in our opinion.

Make sure the remote team has the skills to succeed

Another critical factor for success is the ability for the remote / distributed team to operate independently – even if there is excellent communication with other remote units of the organization. The remote team should have the required knowledge and skills to ensure that it can function and complete tasks successfully; of course, the initial groundwork should be performed when hiring the relevant personnel to ensure the remote team has the potential to collaborate successfully. This can mean training sessions for hires, mentoring sessions, and even workshops on how to bridge culture gaps and experiences.

For the initial setup phase, it can be beneficial to have senior personnel in place, but as the remote team model ages and expands, a mix of experience and junior personnel should also be able to operate successfully.

We’d also suggest, if the remote team has the requisite skill set, that it can prove beneficial to have the remote team take on some of the more “interesting” tasks. Giving the remote team the mundane tasks alone may lead to some resentment and motivation issues down the road.

Management’s total support

Continuing with the organization’s readiness to actually implement a remote team, it’s critical for the executive team to support this new element within the organization.  The relevant people assigned to lead the endeavor should have the total backing of management, especially through the inevitable teething stages. We highly recommend using a Point of Contact on the parent organization side to ease the process through.

Define objectives and goals

Ensure the objectives and goals are clear for the distributed / remote team; this will assist greatly in managing expectations. Another key factor for success is to outline and agree on the various work processes and workflows that will be used by the remote / distributed team. Experimenting on the fly can only add to the stress and lead to issues that may eventually overcome the remote team model, so getting an established work system is key.

Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or comments!