What is Distributed Development: Business Owners’ Guide
In recent years, there has been an unprecedented increase in remote work. According to a Gallup study conducted in June 2022, 80% of US employees work from home or in a hybrid environment, while only 20% work exclusively on-site. The same trend can be seen all over the world, albeit at varying percentages.
As remote work becomes more popular, distributed development — a subset of remote work — is also not left out. This model has quickly become one of the most popular options for software development.
In this business owners’ guide, we will cover what is distributed development, how to build a distributed team, its benefits, challenges, and best practices to help you manage your specialists successfully.
What is Distributed Software Development?
First, let’s define distributed development.
If you are wondering what is distributed software development, it is the process of developing software (or any product) using devs spread across different locations. This can be across different cities, different countries, or even different continents.
This type of setup, also known as DSD, requires good communication and collaboration among developers, as they need to be able to work together even though they are not in the same location.
In line with our distributed development definition, team members are usually located in different time zones. This can be a good thing though. Development can happen around the clock, which can speed up the development process.
Business Benefits of Distributed Software Development Compared to Outstaff and Outsource Engagement Models
The debate between collocated vs distributed teams vs outstaffing and outsourcing models is a long-running one. However, there are several advantages to working with a distributed staff compared to the other traditional methods. These include
- Access to a larger pool of talent: One of the biggest pros of DSD is that it allows businesses to recruit programmers from anywhere in the world, regardless of their location. This enhances the likelihood of finding the perfect expertise for the project and can result in higher-quality software and a shorter time to market. Outstaffing and outsourcing approaches, on the other hand, restrict the talent pool to a single geographic region or the network of the service provider.
- Greater flexibility: With the DSD model, businesses can hire developers for specific projects and scale them up or down as needed. You can start with a small team and expand it as development demands increase. This flexibility is usually lacking in outstaffing and outsourcing models.
- Faster time-to-market: With traditional outsourcing or outstaffing, businesses are often required to work around the schedules of their employees. This can be difficult, especially if the people are based in different time zones. But with distributed model, programmers are spread throughout several time zones so the work is always going on. This allows for greater speed and faster time-to-market.
- Improved control: Even though specialists are spread across different locations, companies that use distributed teams always have complete control over the development process, the quality of the output, and the project deadlines. This is not always the case with outstaffing and outsourcing where the OS partner may have direct control over the work.
Challenges of Distributed Software Development Projects
While distributed software development can offer many advantages, it can also pose a number of challenges. Some of the top challenges of this model are.
One of the biggest challenges of this approach is the lack of face-to-face interaction. When project members are located in different time zones, it can be difficult to coordinate meeting times. There may also be language barriers to overcome. This can make it difficult to interact and build team cohesion. It can also result in knowledge transfer problems.
Providing a central repository for code and documentation, and using messaging and video conferencing tools will make it easier to communicate.
Cultural differences can also be a challenge in DSD. With developers in different countries, there can be different expectations and customs that need to be respected but which may be misunderstood or overlooked by others. Individuals may have different values and priorities. This can make it difficult to reach a consensus on issues and can lead to conflict.
The key here is to understand individual and cultural differences, then find common ground and work together.
Evolving quality requirements
It can be challenging to manage evolving quality requirements when programming in a distributed development environment especially if engineers have different expectations. When requirements change, conflicting objectives can arise, which can lead to delays in the delivery of a project. To resolve this, quality standards must be communicated to all team members and established. Additionally, implementing agile methodologies throughout the development process to help manage evolving requirements.
Maintaining collective code ownership
Maintaining collective code ownership when developers work on different parts of the codebase at different locations can be difficult. This can lead to issues such as duplication, inconsistency, and difficulty maintaining code quality.
One way to address this challenge is to use a version control system like Git to manage code changes and ensure that all project participants are working with the most recent code.
These are just some of the challenges you may encounter managing software development in distributed sites. Fortunately, when you have a good DSD partner, you can successfully mitigate any challenge. This is where we come in. You can count on our expertise, experience, and resources at Newxel to help you get your distributed software development team up and running. Would you like to learn more?
Can Distributed Software Development be Agile and Effective?
Yes, agile methodology can be applied to software development in a distributed environment.
In Agile development, team members must communicate frequently to ensure that everyone is working towards the same goals and that any issues are addressed promptly. In a distributed development for software environment, this can be achieved using communication tools such as chat applications, video conferencing, and project management software.
Using sprints is another important aspect of agile methodology. An average sprint lasts between one week to one month, and each sprint involves completing a small number of tasks. This too can easily be integrated into a DSD environment. However, to account for time zone variations or other logistical difficulties, the length of the sprint or the size of the work items may need to be modified.
Continuous integration and continuous delivery are also crucial features of the agile approach. Continuous integration entails constantly building and testing code to detect and correct issues as they arise, whereas continuous delivery entails automating the entire software release process up to production. These processes can be achieved using a CI/CD tool like Jenkin and a version control system (VCS) like Git.
Payment and Motivation System of Distribute Software Development Team
Motivation and payment systems play an important role in determining the success of DSD teams. The following strategies can help you create an effective system for motivating and paying developers.
One of the most important things you can do to motivate your team is to offer competitive compensation. This means offering salaries and benefits that are in line with or above the industry average. Doing so will help to attract and retain the best talent on your team.
Another way to pay and motivate your team is to offer performance-based bonuses. This type of system rewards engineers for achieving certain metrics or goals. This can be an effective way to motivate your team to push themselves to achieve more.
Personal recognition and appreciation
Team members can feel appreciated and motivated if their achievements and milestones are recognized. This can be most effectively done through public acknowledgment.
Best Practices for Distributed Development Model with Newxel: Pay for Performance, Not for Time
At Newxel, we believe that the distributed development model is the future of software development. Here are some of our top methodologies for distributed software development:
Use virtual onboarding
According to the generally accepted distributed development meaning, a DSD team is usually spread across different locations and time zones. This means that you can’t rely on in-person onboarding to get everyone up to speed. That’s why it’s important to have a robust virtual onboarding process in place. This process will help hit the ground running, no matter where they’re located.
Encourage face-to-face virtual interactions
One of the challenges of distributed development for software is that team members can feel isolated from each other. To combat this, it’s important to encourage face-to-face interactions, even if they are virtual. Make regular use of video conferencing capabilities. You should also consider using a chat tool like Slack, and holding occasional in-person meetings (if possible).
Create shared goals
Another best practice is to create shared goals. Make sure everyone on the team understands the company’s vision and mission and is working towards the same objectives. Without shared goals, it can be difficult for team members to stay motivated and focused.
Use clear communication strategies
Clear communication is crucial for any team, but it’s even more important for managing a distributed team. There can be a lot of potential for miscommunication when team members are not in the same location. To avoid this, it’s important to use clear communication strategies, such as writing clear and concise emails, using video calls instead of phone calls, and being open to feedback.
Foster social interactions
Another best practice for the distributed development approach is to foster social interactions. A good way to do this is by creating opportunities for team members to interact with each other on a personal level. Specialists can connect on social media, online forums, or even online gaming. Whatever the method, the important thing is that team feel like they are part of a community and not working in isolation.
It is important to point out here that one of the top distributed software development methodologies for success is working with the right expert partner. An organization that can help you with planning and designing your DSD team, and helps you to overcome any challenge. This is what we offer at Newxel.
Plus, our principle of “Pay for Performance, Not For Time” ensures that your development budget is well spent.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.
According to data from the US bureau of labor statistics, employment of software developers is expected to grow 25% by 2031. This may result in the demand for these professionals outgrowing the supply. But now that you know what distributed development is and how it works, you can use it to fill in the gap.
The power of technology and globalization makes distributed development programming an innovative and practical approach to software development. Businesses also build DSD teams to enjoy the benefits of remote web development.
In today’s rapidly changing digital landscape, companies can successfully leverage this approach to build high-quality IT products and grow their businesses.
For more information about how this works and to get started, our experts can help.