Methods for Resolving Common Issues in Distributed Software Development Teams

As a Technical Delivery Manager at Works, I have overseen diverse projects for multiple clients, managing teams comprising of hundreds of engineers. In this article, I will delve into the typical communication challenges encountered while working remotely on software development projects, offering tips to enhance your remote communication skills.

Common challenges that engineers face when working remotely

In the field of engineering, intricate tasks and procedures often emanate from communication difficulties.

Transitioning to remote work may take time, but with consistent effort, remote workers can overcome communication barriers and reach the same level of efficiency as in-office colleagues. Unlike a physical setting where colleagues can be approached for help, remote software engineers may feel reluctant to seek assistance, leading to complexity in project execution.

Businesses value well-thought-out and researched inquiries, as they often deal with complex systems that customers may not grasp immediately. Customers may encounter challenges in understanding the system, which is normal, but not seeking clarifications may indicate an issue.

With that in mind, I’ve put together some communication tips to assist you in addressing communication hurdles in your current or future remote undertaking.

Below are three recommendations to enhance your engagement with your superiors.

  • Use your manager’s preferred mode of communication.

    Enquire about their preferred tool for updates and inquiries, be it Slack, email, Jira, or any other system, and utilise it.
  • Send regular status updates on Slack to keep your manager informed.

    It’s crucial to keep your team informed of your whereabouts and the duration of your absence. If you plan on being away for an extended period, kindly notify your manager via Slack or a direct message; this consideration is highly valued by your colleagues.
  • Don’t hesitate to seek assistance when necessary.

    Trying to handle a problem solo and without seeking help may result in mistakes that impede project completion. Thus, it’s advisable that the engineers working under my supervision promptly inform me if they have been grappling with a project aspect for over thirty minutes without making headway.

The most effective method of conveying your message to team members, along with two other options

  • Show empathy while you listen.

    Try to envision your colleague’s situation as it may help you better understand the problem at hand and devise an optimal solution. Moreover, building a good rapport is crucial when working alongside your team to meet coding or product objectives, and one way to achieve this is by being a compassionate listener.
  • Provide specific feedback.

    Criticism that lacks structure is often unconstructive. If you have any reservations about a colleague’s work style or performance, it’s best to present them with clear guidance and suggestions on how to improve their current approach, rather than providing generic criticism.

Proactivity yields long-term benefits.

Proactive communication is the most efficient means of averting misunderstandings during virtual software development projects. It’s vital to ask relevant questions and offer input where necessary. Over-communicating is preferable as it can prevent potential issues. It’s critical to remember that constructive criticism can enhance future project outcomes. If you’re working on a project with Works, our Technical Documentation Manager (TDM) is available to provide additional support.

Article of interest: Four Methods to Simplify Communication with Remote Teams

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