Remote Delivery Team

How To Run A Delivery Team In The Era Of Remote Work?

Remote work – what does it mean, exactly? Is it about sitting in a café with a computer? Or maybe sitting on a train with a mobile phone?

Not quite. The core of remote work is being able to work and be productive in the same way as we would be while sitting in an office.

Key points:
  • What are the main challenges to address when working as a delivery team at this time? 
  • What tools can help you stay connected with the team and productive in the long-term? 
  • How to efficiently set up a remote work environment and enable communication in a delivery team?

This is a part of an article series we created to help you implement a remote-first work environment with the help of MS Teams and Azure. Here you’ll find valuable tips to keep your business secure and efficient. See the additional articles here:

    1. How to boost and measure remote work productivity?
    2. How to use Microsoft Teams for crisis communication?
    3. Azure AD WAP: How to set up secure remote access in two hours
    4. How to ensure your virtual meetings are productive?

It is not just about hardware access, like having a laptop and a mobile phone. You also need to create an environment where you can work and collaborate with others without sitting in the usual place, using tools that you use on a daily basis at the office. 

In this article, I would like to focus on delivery teams and how they can work remotely at the same level of productivity. Let me start from the office perspective. 

This was before…

On a daily basis, most of us work from an office. We have our favorite desk, computer, headset, and other tools. We have access to the Internet, and we are also able to talk face to face with our friends from the team.

Of course, we use a variety of tools and some of them are available only at the office – such as services for project management (Azure DevOps Server), source code repository (local GIT repository) or documents on the local disk.

This is all great but try to imagine what will happen when you have to work from elsewhere? How to access all these documents? What are the ways to share the source code with the team? And finally, how to manage that team?

It can be a real challenge! This is why I would like to present some important and helpful hints and tools for delivery teams to stay productive in these hard times of remote work. 

And now, the delivery team – remotely!

I will present my own, real-world example. As a team, we work on project delivery.

We work in Scrum, so we have daily status meetings. Our team controls the progress of project implementation. Then, we write the code and publish it to specific environments for testing.

As you can see, the are many challenges when talking about remote work in this case. So, what do we use to communicate and move forward with project implementation? 

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Using Azure DevOps to control project progress and deliverables

A clear overview of the project condition is a crucial factor when talking about production success. With multiple teams working on the same project, it can be hard to manage everything in a tool like Word or Excel.

For these situations, it’s worth checking out Azure DevOps which provides developers and teams with services to plan work, collaborate on code development, and build and deploy applications. It is available as a cloud service, so you can access it from any place in the world (as long as you have Internet access, of course).

Azure DevOps provides an environment to work remotely across the entire project team, from product owners, project managers to development teams. It’s available online and can work with your on-premises servers. 

Boards

Azure Boards enable planning, tracking and discussing work across teams. 

Using Azure Boards for planning delivery team's tasks

An example Board 

With Azure DevOps, we are able to control the work progress because every delivery team member has tasks assigned in the product backlog.

As I mentioned before, we work in Scrum methodology utilizing sprints to deliver specific features. With Azure DevOps, it is easy to configure them and then allocate tasks to specific team members within these sprints. 

Check out our smart remote workplace technology cheat sheet

Repos

In Azure DevOps, we can also store the source code in the GIT repository, so every developer can access it. It is possible to connect to it from many different development environments such as Microsoft Visual Studio or Eclipse.  

A repository in Azure DevOps

A repository in Azure DevOps 

Pipelines

Continuous integration and delivery is also part of DevOps best practices. With Azure DevOps Pipelines, it is possible to set up automatic builds for different types of applications (e.g. web or mobile). I encourage you to read more about Azure DevOps in one of my previous articles: Azure DevOps as a Central Hub for Managing DevOps Best Practices. 

What if you don’t have Azure DevOps? No worries. Microsoft makes the service available for free for the first 5 users. If you need help, email us, and we will help you set it up end-to-end. 

Additional tools 

Of course, if you are a project manager and like working with tools like Excel or Project, no problem! You can still easily integrate them with Azure DevOps. 

Excel document with delivery team's tasks

An example of Excel integration

Get more information on DevOps from our handbook

Development environment (and space!)

If you are a developer, you probably work with an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) such as Microsoft Visual Studio or Eclipse. Good news! You can easily integrate them with source code repositories in Azure DevOps. 

Possible integration options

Possible integrations

In Microsoft Visual Studio, there is a great integration with Azure DevOps not only related to the source code repository. You can also manage your tasks and even integrate with Azure Pipelines. Even if you work remotely, you still can access all the features that make you productive. 

Visual Studio integration

Visual Studio integration

Visual Studio provides a great feature called Live Share. It enables you to collaboratively edit and debug with others in real time, regardless of what programming languages you’re using or app types you’re building.

It allows you to instantly and securely share the current project, and then as needed, share debugging sessions, terminal instances, localhost web apps, voice calls, and more! You can see it in action in this video:

When talking about the “development environment”, I don’t just mean the tools but your working space too! Remember that having your desk set up in the right way can boost your productivity. This is an example setup of one of our team members – Tomasz Onyszko. He connected everything exactly the way it was at the office. 

The desk setup of Tomasz Onyszko

Tomek’s home office setup

Using Microsoft Teams to keep communication alive

Team collaboration is one of the most important parts of project delivery success. This is why we organize our status meetings in Microsoft Teams.

During each meeting, the development team shares what they have completed, what they are working on, and current obstacles. We can also display the current sprint directly from Azure DevOps for everyone to see and discuss. 

Setting up a delivery team meeting via MS Teams

A scheduled meeting in Teams

All project stats can be displayed in both Azure DevOps as well as Microsoft Teams. We leverage the integration with Microsoft Teams to access project health data right within the app.

There are several channels with project data: in our case, we have a build channel that shows build statuses with dates and a bugs channel that lists reported issues/defects. 

An example MS Teams channel

Our MS Teams channel for reported bugs

Of course, there is also a Microsoft Teams mobile application, so that you can stay connected with your team wherever you are. 

Remote project delivery is possible!

As you can see, working together on project delivery is possible remotely. With the right tools and mindset, anything is possible. At Predica we have achieved it, and we are willing to help you set up the right environment to enable your team to work remotely.

I can also recommend the latest article on our blog, How to Continue Your IT Projects in the New COVID-19 Reality? where you will find interesting tips. 

Let me present some additional useful links with information that can help you stay productive and connected at this difficult time: 

  1. Quickstart: Sign up, sign in to Azure DevOps 
  2. Azure AD WAP: How to Set Up Secure Remote Access in Two Hours 
  3. Full House: How To Work Remotely With Kids? 
  4. Quickstart: Share your first project with Visual Studio Live Share 
  5. Working Remotely Part-time as a Software Engineer 

Just keep going

Remember that not working from your office is not the end of the world. There are many helpful tools that can help you out.

And what’s more – with the ability to work with a remote team, there is more flexibility and team members do not feel limited. This is an important aspect. 

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Key takeaways:

  1. Keep communication alive in the team, so everyone feels connected and up-to-date. Microsoft Teams can help here.
  2. Control project progress with the right tools. Azure DevOps can help you manage project progress and deliverables remotely. Contact us for guidance on how to set up everything fast.
  3. Keep your remote workspace clean and well prepared, so it can boost your productivity.
  4. Think positively about remote work – it gives your team members more flexibility.

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