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Keeping Dispersed Software Teams Aligned and Productive

Keeping Dispersed Software Teams Aligned and Productive

A couple of years ago, we all thought working from home was a short-term arrangement. But here we are. Remote and hybrid working is here to stay for many of us. Everyone has been doing their best to stay aligned and productive, but it’s been a common struggle to keep teams on the same page and working at max efficiency. So, it’s time to start thinking long-term about effective ways developers can work productively from anywhere sustainably.

Agile teams need agile project management tools

The struggles software teams are facing came through loud and clear in our recent survey to find out what disruptive software teams care about. Like sports teams, software development teams play their best game when they’re fully aligned and working together to achieve a common goal. Having the right project management tool is key to making that happen.

Almost two-thirds of our more than 260 survey respondents identified team alignment, productivity, and communications as their first or second priority for selecting a project management tool. The more traditional roles for these tools — a means to scope projects and gain visibility — were at the bottom of the list at only 14%.

Clearly, things have evolved in the software project management world. But, so have software development teams. In agile organizations, it’s all about breaking down silos and bringing real-time visibility to everyone. Here are a few ways to do that while keeping software teams working together in a productive way, no matter where team members are located.

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Get aligned on every level

We’ve all been there. You’re working from home and you need an update on how a feature or bug fix is coming along. You take a couple of minutes to search for the information. You can’t find it, so you search again. You’re sure you’ll find what you’re looking for any minute now. Then half an hour goes by. You can’t just turn around and tap your work neighbor for help. And you don’t want to bother your colleagues with a Slack or email. When you do finally find something, you’re not sure it’s up-to-date. Another half-hour goes by.

One of the best ways to eliminate this kind of “hunting time” is to create a one-stop-shop for real-time project status information — a single workspace that shows what’s going on in all repos related to the project. There might be one repo behind the workspace or a dozen. It doesn’t matter. There’s one go-to workspace where everyone on the team can see the latest status of every issue, including those that are part of epics.

The ZenHub Board
The Zenhub Board

The same is true for roadmaps. As issues and epics progress through their different stages, the roadmap is automatically updated to provide a real-time view of the overall release status. Team leads and managers can see what developers are working on, how far along they are, and whether a release is at risk of being delayed.

ZenHub Roadmap Image
Zenhub Roadmaps

For the really big picture view, CTOs and CEOs can create a catch-all workspace and roadmap that shows the status of everything happening in the company.

Open up visibility to other teams

Now, let’s take this same concept to yet another level. Like all great teams, software development teams owe part of their success to the people that work around them. While they’re not standing by to massage sore muscles or pass a fresh water bottle, marketing, sales, and customer support groups all play important roles in getting software into customers’ hands and keeping them happy.

When these teams can track developers’ progress as it happens, there’s no need for developers or their managers to provide play-by-play updates. To let these teams watch the action in real time, give them read-only access to workspaces, epics, and roadmaps. With this insight:

  • Marketing teams have information that helps them write blogs, create webinars to introduce new features, develop new collateral, and prepare demos for events. They can align their efforts with release progress and timing without bugging busy dev teams for constant updates.
  • Sales teams know what’s in a release and what’s not so they can start getting early buy-in from customers and generate excitement. They can also set realistic expectations for release contents and availability.
  • Customer support teams can start prepping to help customers take full advantage of new features and fixes about to be released. And they can give customers more accurate insight into when the feature or fix they requested will be available.

Aim for continuous improvement

As you set up your project management workflow and permissions, remember that none of your choices are forever. You can always adapt your setup to better align with company growth, what works best for your software development team today, and where you’re headed. In fact, you probably always should be challenging your ways of working and making changes where necessary. We recommend taking the same agile approach as you do with your software: experiment, iterate, tweak, and evolve your approach to software project management.

Zenhub can help you get from here to there. Imagine a tool that’s a kind of coach for your high-performance software development team. Our productivity management platform is ready to help your team:

  • Structure software development workflows to break down silos and help everyone become more aligned and productive
  • Tailor agile boards to meet your unique requirements
  • Set up read and write permissions so everyone on the dev team and on extended teams has access to the information they need with no risk to the code base
  • Optimize sprint setups for teams that work across multiple time zones
  • Provide insight and training on best practices for agile development
  • Automate away time-sucking tasks like planning poker and configuring sprints

Get Started for Free

You can trial Zenhub for free, so go ahead and take it for a spin. Use the blue button to invite your team members so you can try collaborating in Zenhub. Our affordable pricing plans mean there’s a very good chance you won’t have to give up Zenhub after your trial. Take a look.

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