Companies can benefit from the cross-industry experience and built-in expertise of hiring an outside development agency to assist with a software application launch, rather than relying on internal staff. But once you’ve brought on a team, the next question is how should you integrate them into your existing workflow?
Projects always go more smoothly when the teams are aligned, so it’s vital to get the chemistry right from the start. Here are some strategies we’ve identified that will ease the way for productive collaboration with an external app development team:
1. Get to know each other. People work best when they have that sense of camaraderie and familiarity. We encourage on-site meetings so that both teams are familiar with the others’ company culture. In some cases, several of our developers will even set up camp in our clients’ offices for the duration of the project.
2. Clearly define the segments of the project that each team will own. We’re currently working with a company that is building an electronic skateboard with a linked mobile app that allows users to customize their ride. Our work flow is clearly delineated: While they develop the product, we are simultaneously creating the strategy and design of the mobile app. We have regular check-in meetings with the engineers working on the board, but we know that we own the specifics of the mobile app so we are given the freedom to develop that aspect of the product.
3. Develop the metrics that will lead to a successful project. We like to sit down with the research and development team and establish the testing steps and plan so we know what will constitute a pass/fail. Defining “success” up front ensures we hit the target.
4. Develop processes for communicating progress. At Yeti, we invite our clients to listen in on our daily Scrum meetings so that they are continuously updated, and are aware of any programming roadblocks that might lead the company to re-envision the features of the end product. In addition, we loop clients in by kicking off the week with a sprint planning meeting and concluding it with a sprint summary meeting. Finally, we send out weekly or bi-weekly builds for the client to see and test, so they can evaluate the app’s functionality in almost real-time.
5. Use online communication tools that work for the whole team. In addition to regular meetings, there are so many moving parts that it’s vital to stay in communication with your development team through a variety of online methods. Here are some of our favorite tools for staying in touch:
- Programs like Slack or Basecamp make it easy for teams to follow threads and conversations in real time.
- GitHub offers private repositories which allow only teammates and collaborators to create and view issues.
- Pivotal Tracker is a story-based agile software development tool that allows teams to track all user stories and identified bugs and react instantly to real-world changes.
External teams are a valuable addition to any successful digital project, but it’s important to remove the “us” and “them” mentality. Everyone is working together towards the same end goal—a seamless and successful software application.
Tim Shipman is a Yeti Alum. Tim is an avid cyclist who enjoys exploring new, creative ways to apply technology to suit clients’ needs. When he's not in the Yeti cave, Tim can be found in front of a TV giving an in-depth analysis of the San Francisco 49ers to his Great Dane, Big.