Posts Tagged ‘Outsourcing Eastern Europe’


The Value of Hiring the Emerging Generation of Software Developers

Comments (0)

When Softjourn was founded, we felt that the core of our company’s growth should come from maintaining an investment in the emerging generation. Through an extensive training program, we’ve since cultivated a continual pipeline of talented people. Young professionals have much to bring to the table, including new ideas, enthusiasm and an eagerness to learn. The more experienced programmers who teach them gain the opportunity to develop their skills and grow into leaders. We can’t emphasize enough the role that hiring and training plays in the success of our projects and relationships with clients.

Developing the next generation of bright programmers is such an important part of what we do that we’re partnered with the National Technical University in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, where our software development center is located. Many students are in a five-year master’s degree program in computer science or other software engineering related disciplines. One of our Project Managers is an instructor at the university as well. Many interns come in as third or fourth year students. They work for us as junior programmers while finishing their degree, and then become a part of our regular development team. This preparation process gives them the opportunity to develop their skills under the guidance of experienced software professionals, and gives us the benefit of their enthusiasm, and gives them time to get up to speed on Softjourn’s methodologies.

Our training program is equal parts trainees and trainers. Developing future managers and project leads is another benefit of integrating training into the work environment. Team members who volunteer or are “volunteered” to take on the role of mentor get the type of hands-on experience that’s essential to management training. By training others, mentors learn how to lead a software development project before they’re officially in the position. They’re managing another person and taking responsibility for someone else’s work. They learn to communicate on their feet, so their non-technical skills evolve naturally. Employees interested in management know they can best demonstrate their potential to lead and work with clients by doing a knockout job at training our newest software developers. A senior developer in Softjourn also has taken on the responsibility to liaison with the National Technical University. He continually presents to the students’ different topics which aid in their development, as well as talks with them and mentors them on their technical interests whether it may be java, or .NET or mobile development.

Communication is a primary concern of many prospective clients. Therefore, non-technical skills are among the most important qualities for the emerging generation of software developers to cultivate. To be successful in this industry, we’ve pushed the communication skills of every person at our company. That means not just English language skills but skills in working with clients. It’s our priority to grow team members who are capable of putting themselves in the clients’ position. It’s not enough to ask a client what they need. Our people ask the questions that help pull out essential information for a project, and they realize the concerns a company may have in working with remote software developers. As a company, we’re able to relate, and that’s what keeps our clients coming back.

Categories: Outsourcing Offshore, Outsourcing SMB's, Outsourcing Ukraine, Project Management |


How do we get remote team members to take responsibility?

Comments (56)

How do we get remote team members to take responsibility? It is a common enough question, but is there really a difference for getting this done for remote team members versus team members who are co-located with you. I don’t think it makes a difference. How you do this is the same whether the team is co-located or whether they are remote. The issue is usually having a good management process.

Tips for helping to get your team to take responsibility:

#1: Clearly define who is responsible for what tasks. It is great to have a meeting with the whole team, discuss all of the tasks, what needs to be done, etc. But don’t end the meeting without clearly stating who is doing what. That can be done by having team members volunteer to take on certain tasks which are within their skill set, or “volunteering” someone if necessary. Every project/every task needs an ultimate responsible person.

#2: Clearly define when a project/task is due. This due date may be set because of outside forces; a promise to a client, a government requirement deadline, or other. Or you may have the opportunity to give the responsible person time to look closer at what needs to be done and to estimate the time it will take to get the task done. If that is the case, set a deadline for when the estimate needs to be done.

#3: For longer tasks, periodically check in to see how it is going, rather than waiting until the final due date for the whole project. Many managers do not like to do this because they feel it is micro-managing, or if they ask, they ask a very “generic” question such as, “how is it going?” which often elicits a standard response of, “ok”. How the “checking in” is perceived and how effective it is, depends greatly on how the question is asked. Common ways people ask about tasks include, “did you finish xyz task like you said you would?” which gives the impression that you are already thinking they could not have finished the task. Or a manager may go to the other extreme and just ask generically, “how is it going?” which may elicit just an “ok”. Try instead, as the project is going on, asking about specific tasks, “How did that research on xyz tool go that you needed to do? Did you find out what you need to?”. Asking in this way can help you get more information and more of a feel for how things are going rather than putting someone on the defensive.

#4: Make sure there are consequences for missing deadlines. Don’t let missing deadlines become a habit. There may be valid reasons for a deadline to be moved; a requirement absolutely needs to change, chosen technical design won’t work, etc., but in these cases the deadline should be moved before the original deadline is reached. The responsible person should know that the deadline needs to be moved much earlier, not at the last minute.

As the manger of a remote team, you are responsible for making sure that your team is as productive as possible. It starts with you. Being clear with what needs to be done, by when, and by whom, and then holding team member responsible, goes a long way towards making your team very effective.

Categories: Outsourcing Offshore, Outsourcing SMB's, Outsourcing Ukraine, Project Management, Virtual Teams |