Six Factors For Managing Distributed Teams In Software Development


By Cynthia Wallance

Challenges and Solutions in managing a Distributed Software Development Team?

Summary: Even today, after the pandemic has slowed down, employees are still working from their home offices. It has become a lifestyle for them. And, this lifestyle has birthed distributed or remote teams. Many development needs are fulfilled by a software development team working remotely. Managing the team was challenging a few months back. However, businesses are now managing them perfectly. How? Let’s learn. 


The global epidemic of COVID-19 confined employees to their homes. Businesses and budding entrepreneurs were skeptical about the new business models when the pandemic hit.  However, in recent times, we see dedicated software development teams and other industry professionals working from their home offices without a glitch. Many studies have shown that employee productivity has increased to great potential. All we can say is it’s the teamwork that’s taking transformational innovation to the next level! 

Business organizations that are hiring remote developers, how are they managing the work with remote teams? Let’s explore. 

What Studies and Statistics Say about Distributed Teams 

Many well-reputed and renowned research organizations have found that remote teams are showing a greater sign of productivity. These reputed organizations include the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Stanford University, and Accenture. 

According to the report, the productivity growth is between 4 to 22 percent. Another study by Upwork shows that in the U.S., 23% of the team plans to work remotely for five years.

 In the same study, the software development team was questioned about their plans for the pandemic, albeit better software team management was applauded. Here are some interesting insights: 

1. Because of the pandemic, 26% of the companies had to make a lot of changes in the long-run management system as compared to any ordinary year. 



Source: Upwork Future Workforce Report 2021

2. The pandemic also made the management respond to multiple management practices. The following graph shows how much change they had to make in managerial processes like recruiting, onboarding, meeting, etc. 



Source: Upwork

Managing Distributed Teams in Software Development

Even for the most seasoned organizations, managing a remote team successfully is a challenging task. It takes a lot of time, patience, and a set of productivity tools. However, entrepreneurs and startup owners can overcome management challenges feasibly with the help of software development outsourcing to the ideal partner. The roadblocks that come in the way of team management are related to different time zones, cultural disparity, transparency, coordination, and communication. Here are the top 6 factors that must be managed to keep the remote teams effective, efficient, and productive.

1. Lack of communication 

Communication is the key to maintaining a healthy working environment in any company. Proper conversation helps every team member remain on the same page regardless of the departments they work in. In absence of proper channels or communication frequency between the distributed teams lead to ineffective working, loss of productivity, and ultimately failure to complete the assignment. 


Prepare an efficient team communication system. Arrange regular meetings or conferences to strengthen the bond between the members. The communication channel can include anything from immediate seminars, to voice, and video calls to stand-alone meetings. You can use communication tools like Skype, Slack, Zoom, and Google Meet as well. 

2. Multiple time zones

Globally distributed or remote teams can have software developers and other executives from different countries, hence, different time zones. Time mismatch results in overlaps in meetings for productive being and on-time delivery of the assignment. 


Use a calendar to schedule meetings or casual conversations between the members. Companies can use tools like Google Calendar and Outlook, or Every Time Zone to check the availability of every team member. 

3. Infrequency of coordination  

Any inefficiency in management and execution of assignments becomes a hindrance for a distributed team. Lack of concentration, distraction on the site, and less productivity is to be blamed here. 


When it comes to better software development team management, it is crucial to ensure coordination and align all the business objectives among team members. These aspects can be tackled smartly. Use tools like Time Doctor and Toggl to keep track of the timeframes of team members. Set clear goals and review their progress from time to time. Encourage cooperation and openness through frequent meetings to keep the team active. 

4. Tackle the issue of transparency 

Software Development Companies need to ensure that there is transparency in every activity of the product development process. The management needs to ensure that the software development project is completed on schedule and that the team members meet the organization’s expectations.  Little accountability and lack of confidence impact the effectiveness of the team. 


To increase transparency in the work, use a time-tracking tool. The individual team member can effectively monitor their time. Time analysis tools help to get proper insights into how a team spends their time. The main goal here is to improve work process transparency. 

5. Challenge of cultural diversity 

Cultural diversity is important, but it usually leads to language barriers and work problems. The worker from the office/in-house team may speak fluently in a meeting whereas a remote member who is not working in the same environment or remotely can feel it challenging. In short, they may feel that they are not a part of the same community. 


Business owners encourage remote team members by celebrating their regional and cultural festivals. They should take part in the festivities and build a friendly environment. 

6. Challenge of connectivity

Managing a distributed team is challenging. In-house employees often fail to connect with the remote teams because there is no contact. Sharing information is one good way to build a relationship and if that is lacking, companies need to make efforts to bring the team closer. 


Build a centralized foundation for information flow.

Build a sense of community.

Encourage the team to work together.

Request feedback from time to time. 


Regular practicing and working together will strengthen the distributed team. Although coordination between the teams is difficult, with evolving times, constant studies, and best practices, can help businesses a lot. 

Conclusively, look out for dedicated software development teams with relevant experience and rigorous skillsets who come along with good communication channels and experience in remote work to achieve your business goals.

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