In the world of software development, it's becoming increasingly common to encounter hybrid teams, where internal developers of a company and external developers (vendors) work together on a project. However, this setup presents unique challenges for Project Managers. In this article, we address some of the challenges that PMs face in managing hybrid teams and highlight some good practices and digital tools that we use with our clients to facilitate the process.
The biggest challenge in hybrid teams is ensuring smooth communication and effective collaboration between the client's internal developers and the vendors. The difference in physical locations and work cultures can hinder collaboration, building trust relationships, and the exchange of information.
Experience has shown us that maintaining clear communication is essential, especially through clear and frequent communication channels. In the case of Kreitech, we often use tools like Slack, virtual meetings, and email as communication tools that allow for multiple integrations, varying levels of urgency, and better management of digital tools.
With two groups of developers having different levels of experience and expertise, managing expectations becomes crucial. Project Managers must ensure that all parties understand the project objectives, deadlines, and quality expectations.
Defining roles and responsibilities is very important so that all team members clearly understand their roles and responsibilities. Establishing lines of responsibility can help avoid confusion and conflicts. As part of useful strategies, we can design a simple organizational chart that allows all team members to understand their roles and relationships with their colleagues.
Coordinating tasks between internal and external teams can be challenging, especially if they follow different software development methodologies. Ensuring that all parties work coherently and aligned may require careful planning and constant communication. In some cases, both the vendor company and the client might have their own Project Managers, making peer collaboration and mediation for task definition extremely important.
A good way to address the situation is by fostering trust and teamwork. Trust is one of the fundamental keys to success, and an environment of trust and teamwork, where collaboration and knowledge exchange between internal and external developers are encouraged, is ideal for successful project outcomes. Organizing virtual or in-person team-building activities can be beneficial and can create stronger bonds among team members.
There are several digital tools that simplify collaboration for remote teams. Project management tools like Trello, Notion, Asana, or Jira can help assign tasks and track progress. Communication platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams can also be useful for maintaining smooth communication and ensuring that exchanges have an appropriate level of traceability.
Regardless of the specific one chosen, the most important thing is to understand the purpose of the ongoing development and the project's demands. Agile methodologies are very helpful in ensuring continuous communication within teams and minimizing the impact of daily changes and difficulties on project development. Whether you use Scrum, Kanban, Lean, or any other methodology, it's crucial that the entire team understands and becomes familiar with the various stages and ceremonies it involves and that they can be confident in the project roadmap. All changes and different stages that the entire team goes through should be documented and used as input to improve our management practices.
Hybrid teams in software development present unique challenges for Project Managers, but with proper practices and the use of digital tools, these challenges can be effectively overcome. By establishing clear communication, promoting collaboration, and using agile methodologies like Scrum, Kanban, or Lean, Project Managers can maximize productivity and achieve successful outcomes in development projects. Lastly, it's important to remember at all times that projects need to be considered from all aspects - methodological, technological, and human. Therefore, we always recommend paying attention to all these variables and keeping in mind that continuous improvement is an essential component of our work.