Distributed team: process overview


Last week I quoted something a client said to me, “give a fool a tool and you still have a fool — they need to be used correctly.”  

I do business dev for NTR and when potential clients ask the “process question” it means they are seriously interested. It also means my response can make or break the deal.

When I first started working in IT I found it surprising that everyone wanted to know how we work. I thought that was weird, because everybody works the same way. Boy was I wrong.

People who work in IT know there is this special atmosphere of creation — developers discussing how to implement unusual features you never think about; their jokes that nobody else understand, QA department guys pretending to be a bus to test a new feature (how accurate is the bus timing in a navigator app), flying drones around the office; lots of turmoil and lots of excitement.

The atmosphere is inspiring even when it’s a bit childish. The project managers tell me that it’s a process in which they must carefully balance the creative forces, while avoiding chaos. 

NTR’s process has been developing for 16 years and continues to iterate. Probably because we have grown from the original little team of friends to 12 teams with 100+ developers working together on really large projects for both major customers and dozens of startups and from all over the world.

So our basic process must be really solid, well-curated, and fully customizable in order to deliver the best results for our clients and be proud of ourselves.

The first step is in getting to know your business; we take time to understand you market, its pain, your solutions, and how we can help tame the idea a reality.

Every engagement starts by signing a binding NDA-NCA-NSA. The reason for NDA is kind of obvious. Non-compete agreements (NCA) ensure that we don’t walk away and start a business competitive to yours, while non-solicitation agreements (NSA) mean two things. First, that neither of us will solicit each other’s customers directly, and, secondly, that neither side will poach each others employees.

Once the paperwork is done, there are three main engagement options:

  • Project-based
  • Virtual Offshore Development Center or VDC (time and materials)
  • Dedicated staff

And a choice of two development options depending on the specific situation:

  • Agile process
  • Rational Unified Process

Once these choices are made we build a UI prototype when it’s applicable.

The next step is an interactive prototype, discussed, corrected and modified depending on client feedback; only then do we build the real prototype.

Each project has its own project manager and lead developer.

We set up measurement tools and store the code on GitHub to facilitate full integration.

Our quality team conducts both manual and automated testing to ensure your product is ready for launch.

Because launching is a multi-faceted process, we make sure that the marketing build-up, launch of the product, and data migration (if applicable) occurs at the same time.

Finally, we provide comprehensive support.

Next week I’ll go into more detail on the how and why of the choices above.

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