Would a Remote Tech Team Work Out for Your Startup?
Many start-ups function with a remote tech team due to unavailability of right techies in their headquarters
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When you are starting up, a core element that marks the foundation of your business is the team. Building a good team is an essential component that cannot be missed by any founder. Entrepreneurs usually spend a lot of time recruiting the right people who fit in, in their time not just professionally but culturally as well.
For a lot of startups, before building the business side of things, getting the product right is of utmost importance. Here comes in the tech team – the coders and believers who stay up until late hours furiously coding on their laptops until they have a eureka moment and the product runs perfectly. But their work doesn't just end with product development. Given the changing needs of the audience, the product needs to be improvised at every step while ensuring there are no bugs or failures. So, needless to say the tech team is core to the growth of the business.
Outsourcing The Tech
Even then, many start-ups function with a remote tech team, that is the team is based out of a different city or location, while the operations run differently. More often than not, this is due to the lack of availability of the right techies in the headquarters. In fact, we Indians have been doing it for ages as the outsourced technology department for many multinational companies.
Abhishek Daga, co-founder of Thrillophilia, who does have an outsourced department, believes that the need arises if you are working on specific technology and you aren't finding the right resources in your city to match the pace of development. While he agrees that outsourcing could get expensive, he said that it is advisable if one already has an in house technology team.
"The people working remotely should be individual contributors, engineering managers working remotely seldom works. Also, having freshers or people with less experience in remote teams in initial few years is not advisable. They need to be an integral part of the product and adopt the culture of the company. However, this way, you can hire across the globe and build capability fast," said Daga.
Better Access to Talent
Most entrepreneurs believe the advantages of having a remote tech team are aplenty. Keerthi Kumar Jain, Founder of AnyTime Loan, believes that lack of skilled resource and the cost in the market where one operates and lastly to keep the secret sauce away from the business / operations team, is why one usually opts for a remote team.
Ashwin Ramesh, from Synup agrees that it is talent that drives most of these remote tech teams. At Synup, they create tech products for US clients, where they become the remote tech team. "The cost is significantly lower for our clients while also giving them access to some of the best tech talent in the world. With technology like Slack or Skype where one can easily communicate and align their tasks with the clients, collaborative work from far off locations has seen a huge boost," he said.
For them at Synup, it also becomes easier to allow their employees to work out of anywhere, giving them flexibility of timing as well. Talking about how coding and creating a product is a process that requires a lot of mental thought, Ashwin believes it gives their employees the ease to work better and increase efficiency. "Now, our employees work out of anywhere be it from a cafe or if they are working from home or even while they are travelling, giving them a break from monotonous work schedules," he said.
Communication Plays an Important Role
As mentioned by most entrepreneurs, working from a remote location requires the communication to be higher and more efficient. While most people use products like Slack to distribute and keep a track of their workflow, it also leads to misunderstandings sometimes. Jain from AnyTime Loans believes that the presence of a CTO or a senior employee becomes essential in this case. "It makes sense to have a remote tech team under the aegis of your CTO / Cofounder (Tech) at his/her base location. Otherwise, it's always great to have tech team in similar environment where your business team operates; as it gives lot of real time feedbacks from the customer's perspective," said Jain.
Others, too, believe that getting a firsthand observation of the customer experience would actually help the team better and accordingly work on improving the product. Implementation of the product too takes longer when there's a remote team. "Because of the difference in softwares, the integration time is usually higher as there is a lot of back of forth," said Ashwin, who caters to clients in North America. Customers too need to be able to explain their needs to engineers working remotely in order to remove any confusions.
While functioning with a remote tech team, brainstorming too becomes complicated. In remote teams, someone needs to own the workflow as interaction with other business unit gets challenging, believes Daga.
So, a clear communication process is essential when you have a remote team. Having said that, most entrepreneurs agree that the pros of outsourcing your tech far outweighs the cons. With collaborative softwares that enable the process, it leaves the entrepreneur focus on expanding the business operations while having the technology sorted at the same time.