Today, it is neither easy nor within the budget to bring together a team of best developers, testers, designers, and others to develop a product. That’s where remote product development comes into the picture. It helps you gather the best talent from different parts of the world, form a team, and get your product developed faster, cheaper, and with quality codes.
Working with remote product development teams is not just a trend or the ‘future of work’. It is the present and persistent reality! The working of any modern workplace, especially in unprecedented times like the present.
If you also have a product idea that you want to nurture into a full-fledged product that excels on all your expected parameters (quality, budget, performance, time, etc.), bringing together a product development team is indispensable. And with talent scattered across the globe, remote product development is the perfect solution to superchange your digital product.
You can hand over your complete work to an ace product development company, hire a single product developer, or build your own product development team remotely. The product is yours and so is the choice. But before that, let’s look further into what remote product development is.
In layman's terms, remote product development is the process of getting your product developed someplace outside your company’s physical location.
With remote product development, you outsource your new product and get it done by expert professionals sitting in remote locations. We can always imagine a product development team to be surrounded by sticky notes, indulging in regular whiteboard sessions discussing the product roadmap, and giving presentations to the stakeholders. But it’s not necessary that the setting be your own company’s conference room!
It could be the office of a company you have outsourced your product’s development (with you present on a video conference) or a video conference of all the team members working from different locations. Digital tools and technologies have made it possible for product owners to get their product developed by the greatest minds sitting oceans apart. And this new approach to remote product development has various benefits. Read on to learn more.
We all have heard about getting a product developed from a developer, full product development team, or a product development company in some other region. Most people getting remote product development are:
An entrepreneur with limited funding, looking for product developers or an ultra-powerful product team.
A product company that is looking to upgrade its existing product and infuse it with the latest technologies.
An enterprise planning to digitize the operations and offerings with a digital product quickly.
Or any other business looking to expand to the international market and in need of product development company in the region to better understand the culture & market.
Remote product development can offer exceptional advantages and help you gain a competitive edge in the market. Each organization gets its own set of advantages but the bottom line is- remote product development is becoming the current reality. If you still have doubts, here are some reasons why most companies are opting for remote product development and so should you.
By outsourcing product development, you can always manage your development cost more efficiently. You can set the project cost in the contract beforehand and ensure that the resources are allocated accordingly. Accounting for the spent on resources with an in-house team could be difficult but with remote teams, you can have better control of the expenses.
Continuous reporting of the expenses can also help you compare the current expenses to the product development budget. Whether it is the opportunity cost, fixed cost, or variable cost, getting a product developed by remote teams can help you control the finance allocation.
There may be some types of projects that require rapid staff scaling but for short-term assignments. You can either get end-to-end product development or hire developers for some hours to work on your product. Either way, you are getting specialists for your project who can instantly enhance your capabilities. You have the full capacity of the developer or designer for that particular time which infuses your product with better ideas and expertise.
Getting an outside intel on your product can help you improve your product’s outcome. Whether it is a simple product idea or a complex project, remote development offers a new perspective on your product. Even fitting a remote developer with your office team can bring a fresh perspective. They can come up with some out-of-the-box ideas that might turn your product into a successful venture. All you need to do is have an open approach and embrace the ideas with an open mind.
From conceptualization and ideation to development and launch, a single outsourcing partner can take care of end-to-end needs for speedy development. It eliminates the need to set up different teams for your product as a single outsourcing company can handle all the tasks. They bring technical expertise, IT infrastructure, software, hardware, and other things with them to kickstart product development.
Moreover, you only have one-point-of-contact with the project manager, which makes the process even more efficient. Additionally, they bring experience in a similar field to the table which makes it quicker to conceptualize, ideate, design, and develop. Limitations related to resources, technology gaps, or learning curves are also eliminated.
Another great benefit you get when you opt for remote product development is the access to latest technology tack. We know how important technology selection is for product development and with a remote team, you can make sure to never compromise on the technology. You have the entire world at your disposal and you can choose the remote developers from any corner while ensuring their grasp on the disruptive tech.
We know that remote product development can have various benefits. But the question is how do you find the right team that could work on your product. With an in-house team, you can meet them in person and analyze whether they’d fit your company, its work culture, and other things. But when you are gathering a remote team for product development, this might be a challenge.
So, how do you find a remote development team that would stick with your project to deliver the desired results?
Let’s find out.
When hiring a remote team for your product development, you cannot be satisfied with the simple searching, screening, shortlisting, and interview process. You need to adopt a holistic approach. First things first, you need to define the scope of your product development project and the jobs that the project development team would handle. This would help you know what you actually need.
Once that is done, you need to prepare your interview questions and that needs a holistic approach when the hiring is being made for a remote team. While it is important that you test their qualifications, expertise, technical skills, and familiarity with the development tools, there are many other things that you need to test in your remote product development team. There are many tips on hiring remote teams and having a holistic approach to interview is one of them.
Check for their communication skills and how well they are able to explain their work experience.
See if they have prior experience of working remotely and independently. This should be in sync with the level of involvement you seek to have.
Check out their methodology of working. The best way to work remotely on product development is to work in an agile manner so that your product can be developed in required sprints without any glitch.
Hiring developers based on the content they’ve poured out on their resume is becoming old-school. You need to see how they work on real projects and tackle challenges in the work environment to assess them thoroughly.
And there is no better way to test the expertise of any product developer than by getting them to work on a project for you. But as that can’t be possible before the actual hiring, you can assign them a test project.
You can spare some time to create a small and quick test project that would have challenges similar to the project they might have to work on later. This would not just tell you about their innovative thing but also let you know how well they are with following instructions, understanding the process, resonating with the goal, finding solutions, and working remotely/independently.
This way, you can also know how much collaboration would be required and if they would be able to tackle your product development work independently or not.
The next step to building your remote development team is to check-out their soft skills. Everyone looks for the core coding skills of the developers but when you are hiring remote developers, you need to pay heed to their soft skills as well. It is important that you check out the following skills:
Communication is the key and they should be able to express themselves confidently and clearly. Whether it is for written communication or video conferencing with you, make sure they are able to express themselves in case of any issue.
The next is empathy as it enables the remote developers to be able to understand what you are trying to tell them and what you expect from them. They should be able to see things from your perspective as well.
It is important for your remote developers to be adaptable. Only that way can they have the willingness to learn new technologies and make your product even more successful.
You should be able to know how easy it would be for you to add new developers or replace an existing one or remove a developer as per your product’s requirement or scaling. Scaling and pricing flexibility is one thing you should keep in mind. Another flexibility is time zone flexibility- if they have a working schedule that works for you and overlaps at least a slight bit with your working hours.
Now that you know why remote product development is the way to go and how you can find the ideal remote team, let’s get to the main picture.
How to get started with remote product development!
Remote development is not rocket science. The process is very similar to a product development taking place in your own office; just the setting is remote.
However, there can be two different approaches you take for remote product development. These are:
So, let’s talk about both these approaches individually to offer you a guided approach to building your next product remotely.
The first step is when you are starting out from the scratch. You have a product idea in mind and are looking to get an end-to-end product development. In such a case, you join hands with a software outsourcing company and get the complete product managed. Here is a gist of the complete development approach that follows when you hand over your product for complete development from the scratch.
The first step to any product development is to understand the product idea and analyze them before kick-starting the project. Once you have discussed the product idea with your remote team, they brainstorm together to club expertise. The product owner, developers, QA teams, UI/UX experts, technology experts, and other members of the team come together to generate fresh ideas and add innovation to the product.
You can get some out-of-the-box ideas for your product that can increase the innovation potential of your product. Set up virtual meets and have them pass on all the ideas on a virtual sharing board to brainstorm better.
The entire remote product team also analyzes the market demand, the competition, and the latest trends in the market to make your product more market-fit. It also allows the identification of opportunities and to think differently about the product to foster creativity and innovation. An astute product development team would start with establishing the needs of your product in the target market and finding new opportunities. It can tell you what new features can be added to your product as per the needs of your buyer personas.
The proper market research gives validation to your ideas through the feedback from the target audience. It helps you gain an edge over the competitors with your latest product development.
The next step in your product development is the creation of a roadmap. This tells the strategic direction in which the product development work would flow. This would tell everything from the reason you are building the product to what you wish to accomplish and how it would help others. This is more like a visual summary for your product development process. It will help you stay on track with the process, which might get overwhelming at times.
The remote product development team would create a roadmap with the stories, themes, epics, features, and timelines, and other important things. It could have the planned, in-progress, and completed section along with work assigned for each member in different colors to stay clear. Reference image
The next step taken by any remote product development team is to select the best technology. With so many new technologies, frameworks, and versions of existing technologies rolling out each day, it might be overwhelming for you to find which one would be right for the kind of product you have in mind. There are different things that the team assesses to find the right technology.
They go through the product requirements, features, and implementations that might be needed
Cost of the developer for that technology
Time to find technology resource
Instead of exhausting your entire budget and resources on a product without affirmation from the customers, you can get product-market validation from a prototype. An MVP or minimum viable product is the bare mining of your product with the core features that are required for it to tell your business model. Many startups like Uber, Airbnb, Spotify, Facebook, etc., get their MVP developed first and these rise to become market dominants.
With an MVP or product prototype, you get to launch a product faster with much less of the budget and test it on the early adopters. As per their insights and feedback, you can implement newer changes as you scale or pivot your business model to suit the market requirements better. It lets you experiment better with the product and move on with a product that has market validation.
This is the step when your product prototype gets developed into a full-fledged product that is ready to engage, delight, and sell.
The remote team dedicatedly works on the prototype, adds new features, integrates it with the latest functionalities, and makes it more user-friendly. The UI-UX teams, programmers, project managers, technical writers, and other architects and engineers come together to build your remote product that lives up to your expectations. It is imperative that the team implements agile product development practice to deliver a product that has undergone multiple iterations as per the sprints.
Whatever new feature is to be added to the product, APIs are to be added, everything is done in this phase. There are different sprints involved in the product development. Each sprint has different goals and objectives which need to be completed by the end of the time period (usually 2 weeks). This development phase calls for collaboration with the remote product development team on a daily basis or after each sprint (as per the level of involvement you want).
Not just iterations as per your feedback, the product is also tested rigorously by the QA and testing engineers of the remote product development team to ensure quality and performance.
Many people feel that the hard work is all over once you have developed the product. But the truth is far from this thought. You cannot expect a product to succeed until it is not properly launched and marketed among your target audience. Whether you have created a product for your internal operations or will target an external user base for it, the right form of delivery is what makes the product a success.
You can either get your marketing & sales stakeholders in collaboration with the remote product development team or handle this work also to some remote marketers. Many companies even offer the marketing team to promote your product even before it is launched. This gives you a stronger start as these teams can align together to know about your product and market it better and more effectively.
Now, there are many companies that have already started with their product development. However, in the middle of their project, they need a team of experts to complete the development. It could be either to scale the product, develop full-fledged product from MVP, or any other requirement. Joining hands with an outsourcing product development company can help you skyrocket your product and build a successful product faster.
The first step to getting your product developed from an outsourcing product development company is to discuss around the product. You need to define what you really want from the remote team before jumping the bandwagon. Everyone should be on the same page once the development starts or everything could turn haphazard.
It is important to have a clearly defined scope so that both the parties are clear about the services. Have a written proposal and get a clear outsourcing contract formed to avoid any miscommunication. You can go through your product development roadmap and state them the step you are on so that transferring the project to the outsourcing vendor.
The company you join hands with needs to get accustomed to your project and the progress it has made so far. Knowledge transfer is an important step when you are onboarding a new team for your product development. Define the people who would transfer the knowledge and receive the knowledge. The existing CTO, project manager, or scrum master might be required to transfer the knowledge of the project.
You could have done some research around the product or even have an MVP up and running in the market. Let them know everything around the research you have done or the data that you have collected.
Some important things to share would be Deployment guidelines, workflow for software development, tools, techniques, roadmap, user stories, test cases, and all other things.
There could be technical documents, you might need to hold QA sessions, live demos of the existing MVP, or even need one-on-one meetings.
The first two steps are the most important when you are onboarding a remote product development company for your product. Once you have defined your expectations clearly and have transferred the knowledge with the team, you can get the product development work started.
They can take over the product development from where you have defined in the roadmap and help you take your idea to fruition. Sprints can be created and the development work can initiate.
You can expect the remote development company to bring expertise to the table and put in their best foot front to transform your idea into a full-fledged product. Product delivery, launch, promotion, and marketing would follow similar to the steps stated above in end-to-end product development.
Once the product is successfully launched, the remote product development team also maps the user behavior and collects feedback from the user so that the development team could continue to improve the product and add new features as your users expect.
When it comes to remote product development, there is not much effort that you need to put in to succeed. Just some basic tips and you will see wonderful results. In this section, you will find some simple yet effective tips that can help you succeed with remote product development.
Documentation is the key to having a smooth and frictionless remote development process. It is imperative that you document everything. Whether it is to keep the focus of your product development team intact or to ensure all tasks are prioritized in the right manner for the success of the product development, documentation is everything. With a document in place, your development team would know if it’s going in the right direction or not.
Here are the things to include:
Means of communication
Knowledge transfer for all the information
The timeline along with the sprints
Expectations from each deliverable
Product development is a long and complex process with a number of steps and each step having different tasks. If you are working with an in-house team, it is very simple to get to them with any change and get real-time implementation. However, if you are working with a remote team, this is not so easy.
But worry not! There is a simple way to get to the work done. And that is by taking the visual route.
You are always recommended to have a visual outline of product development. You can start by jotting down a visual outline of all the components that are to be built for your product development along with the capabilities, problems they’ll solve, and their connection with each other.
Make changes in the outline with each new component added or finished development. This is an essential diagram that will keep the product life cycle intact and the team aligned with it even after all the iterations. A video of the same can be even more effective in explaining the requirements seamlessly.
There is no simpler way to tell it than being very truthful- agile is the best way for remote product development. It ensures that your product is developed in sprints so that you have a particular work that is completed in a given set of time. Once you’ve accepted that, then only does the work move further. Otherwise, the remote team can work on many implementations.
This ensures that you get the desired product in the end which is developed with your full collaboration and feedback instead of getting a surprise package at the end.
When your development is broken down into smaller sprints, each deliverable attains more value and your overall product turns out to be great.
Details are very crucial when you are working with remote teams. You cannot simply miss out on anything. No detail could be too much. Make sure that everything you want in your outsourcing contract with each detail specifically mentioned. Leave no room for assumptions. Mention all the things you might want, even if it seems too obvious.
While criticizing everything the remote developer can discourage them, constructive criticism can act as a motivational booster for the remote teams. You should allow your teammates to be able to open up about anything they feel can be changed so that they appreciate when you are opening about any feature developed.
Make sure that you do not give baseless opinions and unreasonably criticize their development. This may distance the remote team further from your product. However, giving them your opinions with valid reasons in a rather friendly manner can ensure that you get the best product the remote team could develop.
It is easy to walk up to your developer and ask them to change certain things in the development process when they are working in your proximity and within your time zone. But when you have a team working in a remote location and in a different or flexible time zone, establishing clear protocols in the very beginning can be super helpful.
Some remote team members might have worked in a different environment while others might’ve had a hierarchical structure in the past, you need to be clear as to how you want them to work with your product. Let them know each other, the people they should contact in case of any suggestion or problem, and how they can collaborate with each other seamlessly.
Let them know about when you need deliverables, what type of reporting you expect, and how often you would meet for discussions and much more upfront to avoid any confusion.
Not your customers but it should be the product development team that should buy the idea of your product first to make it successful. And working with remote teams means this is even more important.
You need to ensure that your remote product development team feels connected with the product. They should be excited about what the product is bound to offer. They can be given some survey results or even be encouraged to attend some conferences with your target audience so they can share the excitement for your product.
The next thing you need to know in order to make your remote product development a successful endeavor is the expectations you put. One of the reasons why outsourcing initiatives fail is because they set unrealistic expectations that are hard to achieve. You need to understand your product and its requirements before setting goals.
Give the team some time to breathe. Even though they are not working under your direct watch, trust them, and do not bombard them with unrealistic goals for each day, week, months, or sprints. Also, be clear in stating your expectations and this is the part where most of the product owners fail when working with remote product development teams.
When it comes to remote working, there is no better way to collaborate than leveraging the right tools. The world is becoming a global village and it is the digital tools and technologies that are bringing everyone together. You can also feel in close contact with your remote development team with the help of some great remote working tools.
Here are some tools you can use:
Jira & Basecamp for project management & collaboration
Zoho for onboarding and other HR activities
Slack for communication, document sharing, and instant messaging
Google Drive for keeping everything at one place
GitHub for bringing developers together for code creation and reviews
Trello for organizing teamwork in a visual manner
Zoom for virtual meetings and daily standups
WebWork Tracker or TimeDoctor for monitoring the productivity of the employees
For all remote teams, it is extremely important that you encourage independence among the members.
Let them work in their own space and showcase their talent in their realm.
Independent working is one of the core skills you look for in a remote development team and it is as indispensable to let them wave their magic independently. While you would want them to work as a team, make sure to not stifle their individual creativity. This would make them feel more satisfied with their work and deliver better results.
When you are thinking about getting remote product development, there are many challenges and opportunities that you might face. In this section, we will throw light on some of the challenges you might face when working with a remote team for your product development work. So, let’s dive into knowing the challenges of remote working and how to tackle them.
The first issue that most of the companies face when they start with remote product development is understanding of product vision. Onsite teams are more likely to cultivate empathy towards your product and understand the product vision. On the contrary, remote teams might only get to know the surface of the development task without a proper understanding of what you actually wish to achieve with the product.
Solution: Share your initial views and ideas of the product you have in mind with each team member. Set-up monthly or weekly roadmap reviews with the complete remote team to ensure they are in sync with the product progress. They know where they are headed with the product and can even offer their inputs.
Many companies feel- how can they work with a team they haven’t met in person? There is a feeling of doubt that success would be a far fetched dream if they haven’t met their developers and other members of the development team.
How will we share the requirements? How will we know how they are working? How will we share our feedback? These are just a few questions that product owners have when they are advised to hire remote developers for product development.
Without meeting personally, there can be a gap in communication. The remote developers might face issues with virtual/digital communication- frozen screen, microphone not working, slow internet, and much more. Thus, loss of meeting agenda and a frustrated remote team.Solution: It is important you ensure that your product team has the right set of digital tools to communicate seamlessly. The stakeholders should also ensure stable internet connectivity, tools, and other digital channels beforehand. Choose one platform where all the remote team members can come together. Apart from having regular team meetings and discussions, also ensure you are getting to know each member individually. This would bring you closer and eliminate the challenge. 3
There are moments of isolation and disconnect that remote team members might feel when they aren’t in close contact with you. They might have some idea or you might want to convey some important things but not be available at that time.
Silos might be formed that might lead to missing out on information about the product. Transferring or sharing knowledge might also pose a challenge while managing remote product development. Their creative eureka moments might pass and the great idea might fade away.Solution: It is important to hold meetings with the team members regularly and foster an environment of sharing and collaboration. Use cloud environments and Google drive to share documents. You can even have repositories to put in permanent stuff on Basecamp where each member can access it.
A very common challenge in remote product development is around collaboration with each other. They might feel some gap in communication that the communication they do is fragmented. It is very important to have platforms and digital tools that can avoid this problem. Especially when you are bringing together a remote team with your in-house team, the collaboration of the two might be challenging.Solution: We have already provided a solution to this problem- use extremely nice collaboration tools. BaseCamp and Jira for project management, Slack for communication, and much more.
Whether it is about having an overlap time when you can actually work with the remote team or ensuring they are making the most of the available time, managing time can be a big challenge in remote working. Your remote team members might even find it difficult to manage time and might get overworked on different occasions to meet deadlines. It is important to manage time but this is too challenging.Solution: When you are choosing a remote product development team, you should be sure about their time-zone flexibility. The best way to do is to find a product development company that can be within a difference of 8-9 hours from your time zone. This will give you at least some time to meet and discuss things. Also, encourage your teams to manage time and unplug at the end of the day to avoid getting overworked.
Remote working has become the new norm and companies are looking for remote partners to fulfill their product development requirements. Classic Informatics is a digital agency and a global web development company that has delivered products for startups, enterprises, SMEs, and product companies across industries like healthcare, government, travel, sports, fintech, and much more. We have the expertise of product developers and the experience of project managers working in an agile manner to deliver par excellence products that are loved by our clients. Many organizations outsource product development to us to get a fully-functional product within a stipulated time.
We can be your remote product development partners! You can get end-to-end product development from us, hire single developer or designer for your product or build your own dream team for the product, including developers, designers, project managers, testers, technical writers, etc.