Managing remote teams can be as difficult as it is rewarding: coordinating a growing group can be really difficult unless it is in sync.
In TeamColony all of us have experience in both being part of and managing a remote team, and have found that the two keys to a successful team management are keeping the team motivated and synchronized.
It is very important and a main driver for motivation when each team member knows that what he is doing has a real impact on the project. And having everybody aware of what the rest are doing avoids duplicate work, and makes asking for help easier. The key is seamless communication.
In TeamColony we use the following bundle of tools:
Trello is a free task management tool which allows us to define cards, with a description of the task, tags or even important milestones for each card. We use it as a simple way of arranging to dos, and see who is working on what.
We use the SCRUM framework with a few modifications to suit the way we work better, like our cards always having the same 4 states. Additionally each card is as atomic as possible: improves productivity and avoids blockers. Everybody feels really productive when they move tasks to done column, and as tasks are really small, you can simply grab the next one when a bigger task depends on it.
We use Google Drive to write documents, spreadsheets or presentations in a collaborative way. Everyone can work from anywhere and it allows commenting. Another fantastic feature is it keeps a full version log for each document.
Of course we eat our own dog food :). We use TeamColony to stay in sync and avoid the hassle of having a daily follow up meeting. Every morning we receive a digest, with what everybody did and plans to do, even if someone has a problem or something important which is not in a card from Trello, and works brilliant with remote team members.
As code is the bones of our start-up, GitHub is one of our favourite tools. It’s a really good tool to work remotely as all the code is available on-line. We use a private repository and submit pull requests for each new feature, so other developers can review the new code before it is accepted in the main codebase. Powerful, handy and cheap.
Conceptboard is a really useful tool to discuss design work. We use it when we want to create a new concept, landing page or feature that requires a new design. It’s great when our designer wants to explain the rest how a feature is supposed to work visually while allowing everybody to comment about it. It’s also easy to use and great to share with clients.
Finally, we use Google Forms to generate anonymous surveys. It’s pretty good when we want to know what the team’s mood is. It is also useful for our customer satisfaction surveys and get feedback from clients that are leaving or requesting refunds.
Obviously this is not the ultimate list; however it’s the combination that works best for us. Every day, we focus on new problems and methodologies and therefore our workflow is in constant evolution. The only thing that doesn’t change is the need to stay connected to share our energy and passion.