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A remote development team: what are the pros and cons?

Jeroen van der Horst
Account director

If you quickly need more development capacity for your software project, there are several things you can do. You can bring in a digital agency, work with freelancers or start recruiting and selecting technical staff yourself. Alternatively, you can use the services of a dedicated remote agile development team that will work on your projects from abroad. What option you should use depends on what your priorities are.

Is speed of the essence? Do you want to be able to scale up quickly and flexibly? Are you in need of specialist knowledge? Do you want to embed the knowledge in your organisation? What is your budget? These are all important questions that need answering. In this blog, we will go over the pros and cons of a remote agile development team.

What is a remote agile development team?

Before we dive into the pros and cons of this option, we should clarify a few things first. Terms like “remote teams” and “virtual teams” are used to refer to many different things. Our definition of a remote agile development team is a group of people with cumulative competences who work together at a single location outside your organisation to realise your goals and (further) develop your product.

This means the members of a self-managed agile development team are just as finely attuned to one another as those of any internal team. What we do not mean when we use the term are virtual teams in which everyone works on your project “together but separately.” Every freelancer and/or in-house employee in a virtual team works on the realisation of a project from their own workspace – which are sometimes located all over the world. These teams only get together occasionally or sometimes not at all.

The cons of working with a remote agile development team

What are the downsides of this approach? Since a remote team is not physically present in your office, it is a bit harder to involve its members in your own business activities. They miss out on team-building activities and cannot join you for drinks on Friday afternoons. That is not to say you cannot organise such events; doing so is just quite a bit more complex. Other factors, such as time differences, cultural differences and language barriers, can also pose quite a challenge.

The pros of working with remote development teams

Since your team is working on your project remotely and in a dedicated manner, they are just as involved in your organisation as any in-house team. Because everyone works at a single location, they are equally flexible as well. They can develop the various elements of your project quickly. You can get started in a matter of weeks and can easily scale the operation up or down as necessary. Furthermore, you can easily add any requisite knowledge to the team on either a part- or full-time basis. This ensures you only pay for what you need.

The costs of a remote team are fairly predictable as well. For example, we charge between €2,500 and €3,000 per month for a full-time developer in Nepal, depending on their specialisation and experience. That is less than or equal to the gross wage of a Dutch developer, but you do not have pay the costs of social expenses, a workspace, a computer, insurance, recruitment or onboarding (which can amount to tens of thousands of euros per developer).

Have we piqued your interest? If you want to know more about the pros and cons of working with freelancers, hiring your own technical staff or bringing in an agency, you can download our free ebook! It tells you more about how you and your remote development team can make your next IT project a resounding success.

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