What skills does an effective remote team manager have?

Managing remote, globally distributed teams, is no easy task. During the past 10 years I have seen all sides of this role, good and bad. I want to share some of the competencies I think are fundamental to be an effective remote team manager.

1. Empathy

I see empathy as ones ability to place oneself in the shoes of another person; to understand the thoughts, feelings and motivations of the people you work with. As remote team management is all about collaboration, empathy is the most fundamental character trait needed to succeed with globally distributed teamwork.

Especially in software teams, empathy is often a rare trait. Technicians are mostly men. Men are in general less empathic than women. And technicians love pc’s and data but not necessarily people. So much for the generalizations, but I guess you get the picture…

By being empathic towards your remote team members,

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The 3 keys to succesfull offshoring

  1. From working agile to living agile

A lot of organizations found that agile processes support offshore collaboration. We hire some agile consultants , train our people, make some handbooks and voila ‘we work agile’. Agile is a popular term today. People sense they miss out if they don’t work agile. So they say ‘we are agile, we follow scrum, our processes are agile’.

Agility basically means flexibility. It’s away from bureaucracy, rigidity and waterfall. Agile can refer to processes or how work gets done. But it’s also related to people. An agile process without agile people gets stuck.

With parts of your team offshore, agile behavior is crucial. We need to understand each other (the remote colleagues, the culture, why people behave a certain way). We need flexibility in dealing with the (cultural) differences. Instead of forcing our own values and expectations upon other people, we need to adapt our own behavior to the new situation. By discussing the behavior of the individual team members we get the team on the same page. <

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Requirements versus partnership

One recurring theme in software development is ‘requirements’. This seems to be one of the most challenging starting point of any software development project. My experience is that the crucial point is ‘explaining what you have in mind, what you want to achieve’. Now I see the following problems with labelling the challenge in outsourcing as ‘making requirements’:

a. It implies that making requirements is largely a role of the outsourcer 

Outsourcers oftentimes do see this as their responsibility. I would argue that this assumption is flawed. During the weekend I placed a job on a ‘handyman’ website. I want to re-paint my wooden floor. I had problems with the floor, having to paint it each 2 months. I could explain my problem very clearly. As a reply, I got few questions and some proposals. With one round of answers, the handyman can make an offer for th

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Are the IT dinosaurs dead?

I read about the IBM and TCS layoffs. Everest Group did an interesting analysis of both cases: http://www.everestgrp.com/2015-02-the-truth-in-ibm-and-tcs-layoffs-and-what-it-means-to-services-industry-customers-and-providers-sherpas-in-blue-shirts-16509.html

A short excerpt that I address in this blog:

Both companies recognize that they don’t have enough of the new skills needed for the new digital services markets and both have too much talent in the skills that made them leaders in infrastructure and labor arbitrage – services segments that are now diminishing as customers switch to digital services and new consumption-based models.

One of the current trends is that even the bigger enterprises buy more (cloud) products and develop less custom software. Often, these products are built by specialized teams. During the 90′s and 00′s, you needed SAP to run your ent

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Ekipa.co: outsourcing reinvented

Many organisations outsource their software development. After decades of experience, it is still a challenge to find and select the right provider and get your ideas implemented as you envision.The recently launched marketplace Ekipa.co changes this. 

Based on over 10 years experience, the founders of Ekipa know that 2 factors determine success in outsourcing: 

1. Having the right team
2. Collaborating in the right way

Ekipa matches software projects with the world’s best software teams. The match is made on experience building the specific solution in the specific technology for a similar company. The teams consist of collocated employees of a company that have worked together on similar projects. All providers are vetted before they can add teams. 

The platform is supported by services: a person will do the intake and analysis of the

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