Within many, if not every industry around the world, we possess the necessity for software; applications and programs that help us in our line of work. Microsoft Office’s Word or Excel, Adobe Photoshop, Sony Vegas Pro, Audacity, simple examples of programs that can be essential to a job dependent on industry and responsibility. Now, sometimes in a line of work we find that our company could benefit from an added degree of efficiency, or streamlining, we’re not talking about laying off any employees, instead we’re talking about the development of software pivotal to our company’s motive. Once again, this could be anything, video or image editing, banking, online retail, any and all industries can benefit from the modification, production or complete overhaul of the software they use every single day and to do that, the first thing they’ll require is a suitable developer. One pitfall so many different companies fall into is the idea of a remote developer, someone who works with you via email or phone call, keeps you updated every few weeks and otherwise has no interaction with you at all. To some, this may sound like a blessing, but in actuality there are many disadvantages that come with a remote development cycle. Previously we’ve written about bespoke software development, in this article we’ll be looking further into that, but instead of the software itself, we’ll be opening up the idea of remote development. What it is, how it works, if it works, and ultimately, why remote simply doesn’t cut it in comparison to the alternatives such as face-to-face development.

Remote Work and Software Development

Before we delve deeper into the specifics of the article’s topic, we must first break down and explain what exactly the subject matter is: remote software development. Splitting this, it becomes a simple concept, work based around the creation, edition, or maintenance of software, be that for a bank or online retailer, but instead of being a physical deal, it’s done via the internet or phone. What kinds of software are we talking about here? Might be another question. Generally, at least in this instance, “software development” relates to anything based around software, be that creating an entirely new application that’s been designed specifically for a company and their needs, or tweaking a pre-existing program that was already in use. This may seem simple and although the foundation concept is, the process can be a timely, costly, specific endeavour that takes a lot of energy from all parties involved. The second part to look into is remote, being that the developer works from home or from their company’s office, in another region, or potentially in an entirely different country.

Now, that seems kind of tricky, doesn’t it? How do you go through everything by sending someone a wall of text in an email, or having a phone call? Remote software development can be an ordeal in itself, but when you add difficulties in communication, time management and trust, the process can become far more strenuous.

Communication

On our list of potential pitfalls when dealing with remote development relations we have a varying number of possible issues, the first of which comes as no surprise in the delicate matter of communication. Explaining the concept, conveying the specifics, and making sure the small details are all well and counted for. How do you make sure that all this comes through loud and clear so that the developer understands and can start working?

Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that the absolute best way to achieve this crystal clear conveyance is via physical interaction, face-to-face, sitting across from one another, in an office or boardroom. Remote work may sound fine and dandy to some, but in the grand scheme of things there is so much that can be missed due to simple but difficult issues. When you send an email, with paragraphs of text, or have a long phone call with your developer, there is so much that can and will be missed. Perhaps they’re working on other contracts, or simply can’t concentrate under the circumstance. Even if they can, and you find the best developer who will comb through your emails and digital specification, the slight yet important details of company nuance and necessity may slip through the cracks.

In the fight of communication between a wall of text in an email vs. a natural back-and-forth conversation, the conversation will win, every single time. The information conveyed during the conversation will stick in the brain and be digested far more effectively due to the simple fact of interaction, participation between both client and developer. When an idea is thrown out, a question is thrown back, with an answer returned, whereas in an email, so much is lost in the shuffle. In the end, the process comes with a simple perspective: the job – whether it’s to  reconfigure an application, or create a brand new software suite – will be done, regardless of if it’s remote or on-site. The kick, however, comes in the details, the aforementioned nuance and company attitude that is so important in creating a recognisable brand, may not be conveyed over the phone, or will very likely be forgotten in the five paragraphed email. This is a sacrifice that may sound small, but should not be overlooked by anyone, the fine details are what can and will set your company apart, regardless of if it’s in marketing or software.

Accountability, Efficiency and Progress

The software development sector is no less trustworthy or reliable than any other in the technology industry, however, trust isn’t the motive of this article. What we’re discussing is the problems that surround remote development, and the above factors of accountability, efficiency and progress can be damaged bi-products of remote work. As stated, it’s not like every single time you hire remotely that you’ll be scammed or unimpressed with your product, what we do feel however, is that you’ll be far more impressed if you do things the old fashioned way, in person. Within the first five minutes you’ll learn a few things that a website, C.V. or show-reel could never tell you. You’ll learn about the person, their attitude, demeanour, the way they carry themselves and their conversation. These very points may seem irrelevant to the work itself, and the developer’s ability, but they play a huge part in the foundation of your relationship with the developer, and the trust that goes into said relationship.

You have to put trust into the developer you’re hiring, a certain degree of faith. Unfortunately I feel that, when working with remote devs, you simply can’t get a feel for them as a person and therefore that foundation may not be formed fully. This is already a bad start and from there you’ll only but worry about anything and everything that could go wrong in their hands. Was the message conveyed clearly? Did they understand? Will they get it done in time? Will they keep me informed? Are they making good progress? And, will the product be good? Questions that are just so easy when face-to-face, catching up and discussing the production so far, but elsewhere, over the phone for example, things can be shrugged off or evaded so easily, and that’s just not good practice for anyone.

Quad and the Alternative

Of course, there are positives to working with a remote company. Some people simply don’t like the hassle, or communication, and are fine with the bare minimum: a product that “fits the bill” and will be finished with that. Minimal maintenance at the expense of blind trust is a fine deal for some. You let the developer have their freedom and they’ll finish your spec in the discussed timeframe, everyone is happy and no one is bothered. Bothered of course being the operative word; because if you are bothered, about your product, your software, your company, then you’ll put in the time, the effort and the intention to communicate with a developer. It’s as simple as it sounds, setting up a meeting, having a conversation and talking through the plan, what you want, what you need and what you’d like included. The purpose, the priority and the possibilities over a coffee, with no stress and no worry to add.

The Quad Group specialises in exactly this, with bespoke software development that fits any industry and any company. How is that possible? Because the work is personalised and specific to every client we work with. We don’t just take an email and run with it without any question or speculation; instead, we get our hands dirty, face-to-face, asking the questions that matter, to us and to your product that will possess the ability to shape your company’s future.

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