June 18, 2020

How We Do IT: Managing Distributed Teams

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Scalefocus is excited to be launching a series of in-depth articles, in a campaign called How We Do It. In the following weeks, you’ll be able to get a glimpse inside our work processes and understand how we stand out as a Digital Transformation Partner.

We are starting off with the topic of how we manage our Distributed Teams and how they function within our organizational structure.

Our goal at Scalefocus is to build teams of excellence that add value and cost-efficiency to your software development processes. We hope that in reading this article, you gain the confidence to see us as a trusted partner you can rely on.

We Know What Good Work Looks Like

Our greatest pride at Scalefocus is the agility of our Distributed Teams environment. Often taken for granted, the work environment is critical to the success of any business operation. In fact, it is the foundation that holds the building blocks of innovation, powerful leadership, and project management working alongside engineering in complete sync.

At Scalefocus, we work collaboratively without the confines of a single boxed office. We believe in mobility, bold ideas and inclusive decision-making. Our advanced technological skill and understanding of diversity, make us a full-scale IT powerhouse that delivers expert solutions and services on a global scale.

We have many separate teams working on large client accounts on different projects, and they always manage to stay in perfect sync and operate as one whole entity. This is very challenging to achieve, as there are many dependencies between the teams, and if they aren’t working in unison, the chance of something breaking is inevitable.

Our Structure Is Our Strength

The current Strategic Business Unit (SBU) structure of Scalefocus is flexible enough to adjust to dynamic and positive changes, welcoming an increase in talented engineers, project managers and overall highly skilled, valuable people to work with.

Our Services SBU has two divisions, EMEA and North America which deliver projects in the dedicated region. The company is planning to develop a second SBU which focuses on designing and delivering scalable solutions to different business lines, among them insurance, e-commerce, public sector, mobile solutions, performance and security.

To ensure confidence in the quality of our work process, we closely track KPIs and performance metrics related to delivery, morale, velocity, story points, incidents, and response time. We believe that keeping them accessible and presenting them to clients during the entire project cycle, builds the necessary trust to form long-lasting partnerships.

Ready, Set, Grow!

Since the beginning, our focus remains on offering smart alternatives to help businesses grow beyond what they thought was possible. Where traditional outsourcing models fail in extended communication, visibility, and execution time, Scalefocus takes the reins with a personal approach to client relationships. We assume full responsibility of a clearly defined project scope with set deadlines.

At Scalefocus we optimize our strengths through process-driven organizational lines that help the whole company succeed and reach new heights.

A new project is dissected into objectives which are distributed among a team of Scalefocus professionals, based in the EMEA or North America division. From there, dedicated project leads assign tasks and monitor their progress accordingly. Project Manager, Violina Kostadinova shares:

“The client is our driving force. Every day, we strive to solve the problems of our clients and help make their work a little bit easier. “

The Business Portfolio Manager oversees the entire project life cycle and provides clarity through regular client discussions in each phase, sharing valuable KPIs and performance metrics. This ensures that our clients are on the same page, and that their needs are met every step of the way.

Each project has a dedicated Delivery Manager and a Project Coordinator that keep our engineers motivated, and regularly check that all executed tasks are in line with the client’s objectives and meet the end goal. Specifically, Delivery Managers are responsible for resource planning and staffing, monitoring and management of performance and maintaining the work quality of the team. Delivery Manager, Emiliyan Yankov comments:

“I try my best to fit the right people to do a given job, regardless of their location in order to properly develop the team. A lot of communication is critical as it’s important to find out when a colleague is experiencing a challenge when they’re not next to you, or they’d like to share an interesting approach that would help others on the team. Documentation of all tasks with clearly written outlines for execution is also important.”

What Are Distributed Teams?

Distributed Teams are made up of Scalefocus and client experts as well as contractors, who work together from our offices in Bulgaria. Their work consists of developing projects for overseas clients in a truly multicultural environment.

Scalefocus has been operating in a Distributed Teams environment by design and as such, has managed to deliver a wide range of IT solutions and business services including: product management, software development, quality and performance engineering, IT architecture, releases and deployment management, SOC, and NOC services.

Some of our teams have full technical ownership on certain client projects which include product design, software development, quality assurance, monitoring, and operational support. One such project with full technical ownership is the so-called Creation Path, a single page application part of the main E-commerce website of the client which allows customers to choose, customize and add products from the CGD (cards, gifts, decor) categories to their cart.

Another similar project with full technical ownership is delivering a creation path that allows users to create their personalized books and calendar products. The personalization includes the ability to select the size, page count, add, delete and edit pictures, add text, apply layouts and backgrounds to pages and change the cover type. For calendar products, users also have also the ability to add their own events to celebrate.

We are also proud of taking full technical ownership of our client’s private social networking platform that allows users to create websites to share photos and videos with groups. Additionally, users can create their own custom sites and share different content with other users. It is a primary means of customer acquisition for the client.

For other projects, we share ownership with the client and help by adding resources and focus on specific deliverables where needed.

We Believe in Full Engagement

Over the years, Scalefocus has managed to provide greater ownership and freedom of expression to Distributed Teams. We acknowledge the fact that professionals need to be able to share their ideas for customer product improvements.

Business Portfolio Managers hold a big variety of projects and have deep insight into their business verticals. Meanwhile, the delivery teams are the driving force behind engineering every project. Teams and their managers need to have good synergies in order to avoid undesired challenges or displeased customers.

The type of engagement is initially agreed with the client and is then executed by delivery managers and their teams. Scalefocus advocates for proper alignment between the two units, so when a team identifies a given problem, the Business Portfolio Manager then suggests a viable solution to discuss and possibly develop. This process ensures that there is engagement on both sides.

Great Leaders Bring Great Results

For Simeon Dimitrov, Head of the eCommerce Solutions at Scalefocus, being a great leader means taking an open and collaborative approach, while providing the necessary support to his team. Over the years, his business unit has gained immense experience supporting one of the largest US companies in the field of personalized eCommerce. The current industry trends observed, directly correspond to the ongoing efforts of his team.

First and foremost, we are witnessing a transition to the cloud environment in order to achieve scalability, full resource utilization and cost effectiveness. We must also address the security factor and full compliance, in order to provide an excellent customer experience. To take it one step further, modern machine learning and AI technologies are being used to offer a completely personalized customer journey on web and mobile platforms.

Some of the eCommerce Solutions team’s greatest achievements include: a significant decrease in the time to market of new products from 5 to 2 weeks, optimization of a client’s hardware resources through improved software algorithms, and 3x site speed load time along with a higher search engine rating. Simeon shares:

“I have an exceptional team of delivery managers and project leads who can work independently and manage their projects effectively. This is accomplished by building the sense of ownership and responsibility to make project decisions and holding them accountable for the results. Whenever there are issues to solve, we do it together as a team. We support and rely on each other in all possible ways. I’m so proud to lead such a great team!”

Dedication and Focus are Key

Our industry expertise and professional work ethic is what give Scalefocus the momentum to continue its success as a Digital Transformation Partner. Business portfolio managers are fully dedicated to their position, and Simeon of course is no exception.

He starts off by planning and prioritizing his weekly tasks on Sundays. On Mondays, he begins working on the most important one straight away. He stays in touch with all delivery managers and practice leads in his unit. Regular syncs are made with client stakeholders in which important project initiatives, delivery, morale and other topics are discussed.

Simeon remains focused on long-term initiatives and specific goals related to customer satisfaction, innovation, and automation.

We Put the Customer First

Nadia Anatkova, Head of Product Management at Scalefocus leads her team focusing on effective communication, ownership and being proactive. She believes Scalefocus stands out by sticking to our promise of providing excellent service and driving innovation.

Above else, for Nadia, it’s very important to show appreciation for her team’s joint efforts and applaud the success.

Additionally, when starting a new project it is essential to fully understand the customer’s business and project scope before planning out a course of action. She explains:

“I try to put myself in the customer’s shoes, understanding their business extremely well, so I could provide the right solution for them. I will ask the right questions in order to eliminate any confusion so I could address the upcoming challenges appropriately.”

We’ve Got More to Share

Keep following our blog section for our next topic in the How We Do It article series, focusing on code quality. Meanwhile, you should also learn more about our Engagement Models, and check out the list of companies that trust us along with their unique case studies. Get in touch with us today to discuss how Scalefocus can take your business to the next level.