First Line Software is a premier provider of software engineering, software enablement, and digital transformation services. Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the global staff of 450 technical experts serve clients across North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
First Line Software has extensive experience with running a remote workforce in the form of high-performing distributed teams. Today many companies have suddenly found themselves with a 90 percent or higher remote workforce. First Line Software has been more prepared as it has broad experience of working in geographically distributed teams.
There are many moving parts connected with establishing highly effective, distributed teams. They all are centered around people, processes, and technology. Yet, a select number of components rise to the top as being critical for getting top-notch work is done—on time and budget. It starts with hiring the right, highly skilled, and collaborative team members, including managers.
Next, it is necessary to build out a secure and all-encompassing technology and hardware infrastructure that supports business operations and the distributed team. Individual team members must be set up with the resources required for continuous communication, collaboration, and productivity.
Distributed Team Infrastructure Requirements
- Hardware setup with a laptop, two monitors, a webcam, earbuds, or microphone/speaker setup.
- High-speed Internet access is critical. In an ideal world, it should have a backup. For example, you could provide the ability to tether to a mobile phone and use data associated with a mobile plan.
- VPN access (if required) has to be of high quality, well tested, and able to support many users (could be thousands) in continuous mode.
- Workplace, you could organize in two different ways. Either you deploy a development environment on the home computer or work remotely by VPN+RDP. Remote production support requires access to logging, monitoring, and deployments. Any single-point sensitivity to accessing environments must be eliminated.
- Security is essential and demands there be a process in place to meet stringent controls remotely.
- Source control is a must which requires the team to log on and use a source control tool such as GitLab or GitHub, which works on a VPN. Privately hosted services must be available over your VPN.
- Build pipelines & automation – The team requires access to run the build and automation tools effectively, including Gitlab CI/CD, JetBrains TeamCity, Azure DevOps Services, AWS CodePipeline.
- Help desk must be current to assist with different routines, which could become more challenging while working remotely.
- Chat and Online Meetings applications are essential to ensure the proper work of your team. It is crucial to have organization-wide and project teams charts with proper search function and tools for 1-2-1 and group callings. It could be Zoom, Google Meet for Daily Scrum, Sprint Planning/Review/Retrospective и т.п.
Defect Tools and Task Tracking
- Any task should be recorded in order not to disappear. In this aspect, tools are vital to spend as little time as possible. You could use JetBrains Youtrack as an example.
As a supportive but not less important part of your setup for remote work, detailed step-by-step simple manuals for different situations are necessary.
- Such company-level manuals could include Instructions on what to do if you need a sick-leave, hire a new person, apply for vacation, and other day-to-day cases.
- On a project level, you need to have information on where are the keys/credits, how to set up a development environment, description of branching procedure, and many others.
With its years of experience with operating distributed teams, First Line Software has numerous proof-points to validate the effectiveness of these teams. Customers, such as Clinic to Cloud, rave about their expectations being exceeded when working with the First Line Software distributed teams. Their comments have centered around the team being responsive, having solid communication skills, and demonstrating technical expertise. They are driven to deliver the best possible results.