The success of any remote team largely depends on two key factors, communication and project management. In a remote workforce, distributed team members need to feel connected most of the time, especially remote and on-site developers who always need to collaborate to fix a certain bug or work on a shared project. So, whether you’re a remote software developer or a remote team leader, it’s important to use at least one project management tool to keep track of important projects and help your team utilize technology for greater productivity and efficiency.
We have compiled 7 of the most useful project management, communication and time tracking tools that you should use to build a productive remote team of developers:
Slack is an essential communication management tool that has been widely used by many remote teams in an attempt to decrease the number of emails and make conversations easier. Remote developers who are either working on fixing a bug or writing a new code, can have a topic-specific chat channel to keep their conversations organized.
Slack has many great features that are often overlooked, for example, Slack allows many integrations such the Slack-GitHub integration which brings you notifications into your Slack channel. This allows team members to collaborate and get notified when a certain problem occurs.
Other features such as,
Slack has this cool feature which reminds you of important tasks and dates. All you need to do is to type “/remind me” in the Slackbot channel and you’ll receive a reminder when the time comes.
Free audio and video calls
Did you know that you can start an audio/video call on Slack with your team members? If you’re in the middle of a conversation and felt like you really need to talk things through, click on the audio sign and start chatting with your team members without switching to another application to make the call.
The Digg bot
Besides all these awesome features, the Digg Bot is a special one as it helps remote developers refresh their minds and stay on top of the news. The Digg Bot sends you interesting articles, videos and news updates so you won’t ever feel bored at work.
How to get it?
Simply visit the Digg Bot website and click on ‘Add to Slack’.
This is a task/project management tool that is known for its simplicity and efficiency. Trello is a popular and user-friendly tool that helps remote teams organize their projects. If you haven't heard of Trello, we’ve got you covered as we summarized its basic features so you can start using it.
Trello’s primary concept is creating boards for every project or department, under each board you can create cards/columns. Each card is assigned to a certain task. For example, we, at InternsValley have 3 cards in our marketing board;
To do: Here we list down all the new tasks.
Doing: Tasks we’re currently working on.
Done: Completed tasks.
This helps us not just organize our projects but visualize them and know exactly what’s being worked on, who is working on it and what’s coming up next.
Of course you can always add up as many columns (cards) as you want. Some teams, for example, organize it this way: “To do, Doing, Review, Done.” For developers, you can plan your cards this way:
Incoming bugs: Collect the bugs that need to be fixed.
Doing: Bugs or projects you’re currently working on.
Testing: Code testing and review.
That’s why Trello is great because you can customize the cards according to your needs. Once you list the tasks under each card/columns you can start assigning every task to a team member by mentioning them, for example, ‘@member.’ This way makes it easy for developers to track their pending tasks and stay informed of other members’ to-do lists.
With more than 100 integrations, Asana helps small teams bring everything in one place. It allows every member to know what the rest of the team is doing and track the progress of their projects. It also makes it possible to set reminders for each task, so you can never miss a deadline. Similar to Trello, Asana has a number of features such as:
Projects: Creating a visualized board of shared projects so everyone in the team would know where they’re headed.
Sections/columns: Group similar tasks in one section or column to keep them organized.
Likes: Acknowledged a task? You can simply hit a like to show that you’re on track.
Attachments: Attach files from your computer to Asana and share it with everyone in the team.
Specifically designed for software developers, Jira is another powerful project management tool that helps agile teams get things done in an organized manner.
There are mainly 3 important features that you need to understand if you are a beginner user of Jira:
Jira issue is a scheme in which all new tasks will be listed. Just like the boards of Trello, you can divide big projects into smaller tasks (issues).
Jira issues are divided into 3 types:
Story: Here you can list multiple sub-tasks or break down a big project into smaller tasks.
Bug: Bugs are a type of issue in which you can list the problems that need to be fixed.
Epic: Epics are for larger projects that need collaboration from many team members.
Jira has a special feature called, “sprints” which helps developers create a time frame to complete a certain task or goal.
How sprints work?
It’s pretty simple. Once you’ve added an issue, click start sprint and enter the start date and the end date for the sprint. Ideally, a project takes 2 weeks to be completed. We recommend using a reasonable time frame that makes the whole team collaborate effectively without being stressed out to meet the deadline.
When it comes to code management tools, GitHub is one of the most popular tools used by developers. It helps developers build softwares and collaborate with their team on projects. GitHub provides a lot of features and collaboration tools for developers, for instance; GitHub has issues for repositories, similar to the issues of Jira, which you can use to keep track of tasks you’d like to work on.
As a remote developer, your role is to solve problems but what if you’re facing challenges? Stack Overflow has an incredible platform that allows developers to share their knowledge and collaborate to solve coding problems.
The good thing about working remotely is that you can be independent. Your boss won’t look over your shoulder to make sure you’re working. However, distractions can easily creep in when you become your own boss. That’s why you need to use time tracking tools such as Toggl, to track the time you spend on every project.
Start with creating a project and type in your current task. When you press enter or ‘start’, the app will start tracking your time. To make the most of it, use the monthly report feature to demonstrate the time spent on each project throughout the month. This is useful if you want to measure the progress of your employees at the end of every month. Toggl also comes with a wide variety of integrations such as, Asana, Google Drive, GitHub, Trello, Jira and Todoist.
The typical day of every remote developer includes a lot of note takings, projects and deadlines. The best way to organize your projects and make sure the whole team is on the same page is to use a project management tool. Choosing the best tool depends on how big your team is and how many projects you usually work on. At Internsvalley, we use tools such as Slack and Trello to make communication and task management easier and more effective. Do you have a favourite project management tool that you often use? Share it with us!
By: Menna Shalaby