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The Centralized/Distributed Team Model: UpTeam.run(cent, dist)

Our centralized/distributed model is well-suited to teams with a variety of technical missions. It can also ramp quickly to be at least as productive and focused as organically grown teams in your HQ.

An essential feature of the model is a centrally-located office in one of our permanent locations in major European metro areas. It’s where Technical Project Managers (TPMs), Team Leads & DevOps reside. This time zone alignment maximizes the window of collaboration every day.

Each office comes complete with co-working type desks and breakout rooms. This advantages team leadership with permanent workplaces. It also streamlines on-demand face-to-face interaction for team leads, senior developers, and others.

Developers and specialty experts are hired into or assigned to your team from wherever they live. We select for superior talent and availability rather than daily commute distance. Any candidate selected opts in to our well-defined team participation guidelines, including clear expectations for both individual deliverables and for teamwork:

  • Standard working hours 9a-6p CET; teams working with West Coast clients shift to 11a-8p.
  • Video calls 2x/day for morning stand-up and evening report-out
  • Accessible on Slack and for video calls the rest of the time during the working day.
  • Regular travel required to the central office location; visits timed to major development milestones (e.g., releases, major scrum ceremonies, team building events).

Clear teamwork guidelines also drive speed. Setup of a complete dev team with as many as 20 Developers in a single month (which we do often)relies on robust processes. This ensures team stability, productivity, and collaborative norms that align with Agile (including timeboxing, communications artifacts, transparency, and the like).

Team operating norms also extend to organizational intangibles, like team structure and professional development. Every team has documented roles, management accountability, escalation paths. Each member has a documented professional development plan. It including long-term career plans and near-term skills attainment objectives which he or she developed with their line manager. These are reviewed by both our head of talent and the CTO.

This centralized/distributed model has proven successful across a range of businesses. It fits agile start-up teams, as Sprint scope can change daily; it fits with Enterprise support engagements where we guarantee 24/7 support with 15 min SLAs.

To build value and sustain long-term execution, software development teams need to align with global corporate processes, culture, and structure. There is no need to compromise team effectiveness based on where the individuals in the team live. That means taking the long view in thinking how your software development team fits with other functions: customer success, product management, finance, HR, strategic planning, corporate governance, and more.