Sitting in on the panel discussion about Distributed Teams. I was asked to be a part of this panel and declined since my main intent here at Minnebar was to cover the vent as a blogger/journalist for The Blog Herald.
How do you build a strong distributed team for your projects(s) will be the theme here.
“Distributed ain’t all that…” says one panel member.
“Have any of you worked with a remote team that has gotten it done better, faster, and chaper because of the remote team?”
“Have you had any issues with passing the work back and forth amongst the teams”
Structure of the team will be part of your success – particularly with software projects
Is it advantageous to have a remote team or not?
Audience member: “With distributed teams, the management overhead can really become part of the problem…”
Economic value of the dollar is also impacting the ability to offshore..
24×7 reality with the right software and management solutions can make problems be solved faster – and push a product forward in a much faster timeline – but this experience is relatively rare.
Barry Hess: “I’m the small team guy here… our company is all about the people. New designer at the company is based in Portland because he was the best guy that applied…”
Cost reduction / cost savings is the driver in some companies – china/india is much cheaper than US based labor…
“How many jobs are moving overseas – is this what is driving some of this…”
U of MN CompSci Professor: “Population since 2001 here at the U of MN in computer science is way way down… the bubble had an impact…”
Some companies shift to outsourcing because they can’t manage software projects – so they outsource or offshore in order to drive down costs… and then find themselves with an even bigger issue because now they can’t manage distributed software projects…
audience member: “a distributed team is much more than just designers and programmers”
We’re finally getting to talking about tools rather than some of this philosophical stuff around whether or not this is the right thing to do…
“how do you convince your client or employer to allow you to work remotely” as your own distributed team? Rather than having to work onsite… – trust and having a personal connection is a big part.
“sometimes communication amongst distributed teams is better because in a colocated team we talk more than we document and build processes correctly from the start…”
“sometimes you have to distribute a team in order to increase productivity…”
Many tools mentioned – including most of the 37signals applications.
“is anyone using sharepoint? does anyone like it?”
Google is using high def video conferencing on all day in order to have two halves of one team work together across multiple locations (Mountain View, CA + Boulder, CO)…
I’ll be writing a follow-up post later about how to manage distributed teams along the lines that I’ve seen during my time as a blogger and blog network owner as well.
Matt Craven is the former editor & publisher of The Blog Herald. Currently, Matt is the co-founder of Bryghtpath LLC, a consulting practice located in Woodbury, Minnesota. Matt's presently looking for new blogging gigs. Ping him at matt (at) bryghtpath dot com. You can follow him on Twitter.