Ever heard the Navy expression? Leaders eat last. It expresses the essence of good leaders and mentors: the willingness to recognize and empower others, even if it means relinquishing a bit of authority in the name of autonomy & better-sourced information. For presidents, upper management, and leaders of thriving software development teams, it also means rethinking people management.
We have come a long way since the 1980s and 1990s when software engineers and developers were seen as socially awkward, nerdy – almost mysterious – creatures. Nowadays, these professionals are in increasingly high demand, the necessary skillset becomes more popular – yet slowly. Engineers have now become the all-stars of the job market. In other words, higher pay, stronger demands, and free mobility.
For those in leadership positions, big challenges ahead: getting them on board and developing groundbreaking products within digital product teams. If world-class software experts are in hot demand, they are also in short supply. With fierce competition for great professionals, Product Manager to UX/UI Designer, Mobile engineer, Web Engineer, Backend Engineer, and QA Specialist are in short supply.
That is why everyone on the corporate ladder (from managers to VPs) dearly needs to rethink Human Capital Management (HCM) to keep both talents and acquired knowledge within the company for as long as possible.
In practice, here are some questions every tech leader should pay attention to, in order to avoid competitors from poaching your best software experts. And keeping, of course, digital product teams’ turnover rates under control:
- #1 How is the nature of work changing?
- #2 What must I know about Human Capital Management (HCM)?
- #3 How do I choose between freelancers, part-time or full-time employees?
- #4 Why should my company adopt distributed teams?
- #5 What are considered best practices to build, manage, and retain digital product teams?
- #6 Why should I choose the nearshore model instead of inshore or offshore?
#1 How is the nature of work changing?
75% of the American workforce will be made up of Millennials by 2025. In practice, this means “sense of purpose” and “meaning” are especially valued. High tech firms are appointed as dream employers, seen as more in-tune with the aforementioned shifts.
At first glance, this might seem something only HR should be worried about. At least until tech leaders realize that the lack of skilled workers makes it difficult to scale digital product teams at the same velocity rate necessary to product development in an increasingly competitive market. Especially among Saas – Software as a Service product.
Although there are different pain points in different regions around the world, this analysis by KPMG summarizes key trends and challenges we should all be looking into: managing change, workforce relevance, and leadership.
Furthermore, this new generation seems to have a common preference: to work remotely.
The Global Workplace Analytics’ analysis of 2018 ACS data also points out that regular work-at-home has grown 173% since 2005, 11% faster than the rest of the workforce.
And according to the SHRM 2019 Employee Benefits Survey, 69% of employers offer remote work on an ad hoc basis to at least some employees, 42% offer it part-time, 27% offer it full time.
#2 What must I know about Human Capital Management (HCM)?
“HCM is the comprehensive set of an organization’s practices for recruiting, managing, developing, and optimizing employees (as an intangible asset) in order to maximize their business value.“, says Bamboo HR.
It means to be data-driven and to think of people not as resources, but as assets, that bring knowledge and value to your organization.
By establishing People Analytics, for example, you can set KPIs for your HR – or OKRs for the company as a whole – and unravel metrics such as:
- Turnover rate;
- The time you take to finish each phase of the hiring process;
- How satisfied are your employees with the company;
- How your employees do see the company and talk about it to family and friends;
- Simulate multiple scenarios, fixing what’s not working and getting worthy insights, and so on.
If you have 30-40min, invest your time in watching the following case study. Shannon Shaper, who looks at hiring effectiveness, shared some of Google’s approach to finding, assessing, and recruiting talent.
As a high-level leader in a tech-related business, you have 5 responsibilities regarding this:
- Guiding team leaders on strategic goals and prioritization of team efforts regarding people, processes, and technologies;
- Deciding what kind of knowledge, skills, and capabilities are essential to strategic company growth, and which ones are “nice to have”;
- Advocating internally towards a meaningful budget for payroll expenses, since the software development-based businesses cannot scale without increasing staff numbers;
- Supporting HR in understanding the specificities of digital product teams, guiding and assisting them with any information, resources and even subordinate team members’ time;
- Educating yourself on HCM and promoting relevant initiatives that improve the employee experience.
What does this have to do with product development, you ask? Plenty. New hires need time to ramp up and may impact team productivity as a whole while communication is realigned. When team members leave, they take acquired knowledge with them. Managing people is managing knowledge, relations, and also product roll-outs.
That’s why you and your team should be focusing on product development, not hiring processes. That’s what you’re best at and where you deliver the most value. If by tracking the time you take to finish each phase of your company’s hiring process you actually found out it is a long time and that it needs optimization, take our tip into consideration: IT staff augmentation may be the perfect solution!
Download our calculator and explore in detail how Ubiminds can spare you 75% of the work:
#3 How do I choose between freelancers, part-time or full-time employees?
The good news is that nothing is set in stone. Companies can pick whichever model (or models) they find most suitable, often mixing more than one option.
Regardless of how many hours you need additional team members to work for you, there are other things to consider in order to build thriving digital product teams. It is important to plan for how long the additional support will be necessary, and where these experts will be allocated.
Timeframe: Project-based vs. Product-based work
Unless you are a software house, chances are you are (or should be) leaving project-based work and adopting product-based development.
Microservice architecture is replacing the monolithic approach and thus allows digital product teams to work in parallel. And, most importantly, fully engage in whatever they are developing – a.k.a. Amazon’s “You build it, you run it”.
As far as team management and tactical approach, this means:
- Customer centricity is the norm;
- Apps are viewed from a whole-life-cycle-development perspective;
- Team members become evaluated on their contribution to value generation.
However, this is only doable if there are long-term relationships in place, with shared responsibilities and plenty of collaboration. This is easy for in-house or distributed teams but becomes nearly impossible if your software development is fully outsourced.
Location: In-house vs. Distributed vs. Remote
In-house employees are completely surrounded by your business culture, and education happens gradually, without the need for formal rituals. However, this can hinder the hiring process.
Sometimes the best talent lives far from the office (even abroad), and not all of them are willing to relocate. This means that you’ll either have to settle for less qualified software developers or push back deadlines until you make the new hire.
Distributed teams’ members solve this issue. Your team gets to count on the best software developers wherever they are. And since communication and interactions happen on equal terms (channels and working hours), everyone stays in equal footing. Added bonus: as a result, processes, and documentation are more well-rounded.
Remote workers are further away: they don’t comply with the same office hours, don’t necessarily take part in daily rituals and sometimes their home offices are not equipped with the best internet connection. Although remote hires provide fast augmentation, code quality varies and so do loyalty levels.
Homeoffice vs. coworking vs. regular office
According to RecruitLoop, there is an estimated $1.8 billion in losses due to the lack of workplace flexibility, only on account of simple workplace distractions, like noise.
Allowing employees to work from where they are most productive simply makes sense. Also, being out of office also means team members have more opportunities for networking and collaboration, and the increased diversity of ideas enriches problem-solving by expanding points-of-view.
#4 Why should my company adopt distributed teams?
Better people means better products
It may seem obvious, but it has always been about the people, not the geography. If you want to have the best product, build the best digital product team. A custom-curated one like we say here at Ubiminds.
If the right person is miles away but fits your company and the role perfectly, we’ll always say: go for it! At the end of the day, it’s your product’s quality that can be jeopardized by the fear of investing in new possibilities.
Plus, it has never been easier to work remotely. Technology connects us easily and fast, making life easier for everyone, almost anywhere. You only need to provide good equipment and resources and voilà!
High retention rates
According to a research study on remote work co-authored by TINYpulse and Owl Labs reveals that “companies that support remote work have a 25 percent higher retention rate than companies that don’t,” and “even among employees who don’t work remotely today, 65 percent of them would like to work remotely at least once a month in the future.”
It’s harder than ever to attract and retain talent
These teams are not only possible and promising, but also necessary. The IT industry is relatively young, and there aren’t yet enough senior professionals out there. Seasoned specialists are in hot demand – and this means local talent pools in the US are drying up as we speak.
A recent study pointed out that, by 2021, there will be a shortage of 1.4 million software developers and only 400,000 software developer graduates in the USA. And there’s more: it’s projected that this gap will continue to grow for at least the next ten years.
That said, these numbers can’t be in the way of your company’s development and product quality.
Multicultural digital product teams mean diversity: new ideas and ways to do better
Take the words of Elad Simon, Craft’s CEO:
“A global team means the coming together of minds from different countries and cultures. Apart from the essential value of building a diverse team, diversity brings tremendous added value to a global product like Craft: the interaction between team members from different cultures creates the need to expand and improve your communication skills”.
That’s about it. Having a diverse, prejudice-free work environment extremely helps to promote good, innovative ideas.
Also, a diverse digital product team equals a bigger fount of references and benchmarks. This impacts directly on your team’s ability to be problem-solving and boosts the chances of your team reflecting your users’ base, among other perks. Keep that in mind.
#5 What are considered best practices to build, manage, and retain digital product teams?
We have an insightful series of articles on best practices to build, manage, and retain digital product teams. It is authored by our CEO, Paulo Ross. Take a look at the main topics:
Distributed teams: how talent acquisition can get the right people
The most important part of setting up a digital product team for distributed work is, undoubtedly, the team itself. Powerful distributed teams share special traits and strengths. They can be developed. But results are attained faster with talent acquisition. If your recruitment process’ lense is well adjusted, you are sure to make strides. Read more!
Distributed teams: infrastructure and equipment must-haves
Distributed team members cannot work in silos. To be efficient, they must over-communicate and, so, have online collaboration enabled. This invariably means equipment and infrastructure have to be up to speed.
Especially when hiring freelancers and independent contractors, some companies still risk BYOD, Bring Your Own Device. Like any other quick-fix, it tends to bring more trouble than it solves. We’re talking from performance issues to being more prone to security breaches. Learn more!
Distributed teams: laying the foundation for Back Office Support
Looking to build a high-performance distributed team for software development and engineering? If so, there is an important groundwork to do. The company must offer a remote-friendly system. It’s not about signing up for the right apps – it’s about establishing mindset and processes. We’ve listed some self-evaluation questions to support you in laying the foundation for Back Office Support. Check it out!
Distributed teams: how to prepare Mindset and Culture
When it comes to digital product teams, remote engineers are common. There is no discussion that remote work is here to stay. But what makes a distributed team not only efficient but also effective? When building or scaling a team that is spread out, do first things first: prepare your company’s Mindset and Culture. Know how!
Distributed teams: setting up Dedicated Workspaces
The COVID-19 crisis of 2020 has changed the nature of work, although the tech community hasn’t seen its day-to-day work routines be as affected as other professions. At least, trips to headquarters have become rare and far between. At most, the need for a dedicated workspace for an in-home office has never been as explicit as now. Here is how your company can support engineers to set up dedicated workspaces!
Distributed teams: best practices for Onboarding remote workers
Onboarding remote workers for your digital product team – be they your own employees, or third-party contractors – can be easy rather easy. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to get you both up and running in no time.
Distributed teams: training and development remotely
So you’ve already set up a distributed product team, and have now reached that point where it’s time to invest in human capital. Congrats! If you are looking into how to carry out training and development remotely, it’s an excellent sign. Learn more!
Distributed teams: Performance Management for remote employees
Performance Management for the remote employees that make up digital product teams isn’t much different than that of on-site team members. However, the way in which we carry out interactions and apply emotional intelligence to deal with every day in currencies deserves extra attention.
Distributed teams: retention as a challenge – on attrition and turnover
Take Ubiminds’ Distributed Culture Maturity Assessment and find out whether your product team is ready to thrive through distributed work.
#6 Why should I choose the nearshore model instead of onshore or offshore?
When you are looking for qualified talent, but also cohesion to your current digital product team and service level, offshore might not be the best option. On top of cultural differences and language barriers, the time zone difference can range 6 to 10 hours, making communication more difficult.
On the other hand, nearshore and onshore hires have easy communication, and time zone differences are cut down to 1 to 3 hours. This means facetime, daily meetings, closer collaboration, the works!
The key advantage of the first over the latter, though, is the difference of buying power given that the US dollar is a stronger currency than its Latin counterparts.
National vs. International companies
On the one hand, common offshore challenges include cultural mismatch, questionable accountability, and annoying time zone differences. That is why more and more often, American Companies begin to look at the nearshore model.
Hiring within the Americas eliminates most communication barriers (a.k.a. “wall of confusion”) and thus makes it easier to keep the whole team up to speed.
Brazil has become an increasingly strong source of tech talent, leaving Mexico and Argentina behind. IT companies currently represent 7.1% of the country’s GDP – Gross Domestic Product, with annual nominal growth of 9.9%.
Boasting several high-tech regional hubs (including highlights Belo Horizonte, Curitiba, Florianópolis, Recife), it is an odd case of an increasingly growing talent pool.
Also, research has shown that 59% of Brazilian workers want to work remotely, yet 63,6% of Brazilian companies still don’t allow home office on any account. Not only that, but the country also has the longest job interview process in the world, with an average 39.6 day-long duration.
This leaves plenty of room for American companies to swoop in and snatch the best candidates, even if they already have one foot in the door.
Last but not least, it also helps that American Dollar is a stronger currency in comparison to its Latin counterparts. In terms of compensation and benefits, it becomes a win-win situation:
- American digital product teams fill their ranks with high-performers at reasonable rates, keeping payroll under control despite the level of expertise of the foreign tech hires;
- Latin professionals feel a significant increase in buying power and enabling upward mobility not only for themselves but also for their local communities.
In other words, the nearshore model allows you good riddance to unavailable talent, dreadful time zones, and never-ending payroll costs. Moreover, you expand your available talent pool beyond American borders – distributed teams, I’m looking at you
We are here to empower you.
In case it all seemed very good for you – which we hope so – Ubiminds’ white-glove service can help your company have the top performers it has always dreamt of.
We custom-curate digital product teams at reasonable rates and fast, saving you time and money.
Our thoughtful and innovative #OneTeam approach connects you with qualified talent to help you seamlessly build and scale nearshore distributed teams.
If you want to know more or are simply curious about “why Ubiminds?”, please, feel free to follow in our next article: Why hire Ubiminds.
International Marketing Leader, specialized in tech. Proud to have built marketing and business generation structures for some of the fastest-growing SaaS companies on both sides of the Atlantic (UK, DACH, Iberia, LatAm, and NorthAm). Big fan of motherhood, world music, marketing, and backpacking. A little bit nerdy too!