Happenings in a core remote team

Happenings in a core remote team

There are pluses and minuses in all types of companies, being remote or local. The main issue in a company is the fact that you have to work with people. And people aren't always the way you'd prefer them as, in the end, we come from quite different backgrounds. One of my favorite jokes is:

"CFO asks his CEO, "What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave the company? CEO answers, "But, what happens if we don't and they stay?"

It's really important on how you grow your company because, in the end, you grow it with people. So you want to surround yourself with determined and self-aware persons. But, there's also the brushwood that comes along in every forest.

We have a definite process inside Upstack, counting from outsourcing for resources and projects, to getting developers all set up in our environment, sending them to great projects, and monitoring all activity towards profit and brand position. We asked 3 key persons in our core team some aspects that they might encounter and we want to share them with you.

1. Roxana Duta - our Talent Manager responsible for outsourcing, holding meetings, and hiring most of our developers. She's the first in line that gets in touch with the new developers and does a lot of feedback and follow-up with them.

Describe to us the funniest happening in your interviews.

One time, a cat jumps right on the head of a candidate in the middle of our discussion and he was in shock for a few minutes, so we just paused the video call so he could refresh himself. Of course, we had a laugh from it and it definitely relaxed both of us, but that's one happening that you don't want during an interview.

What's the worst thing that ever happened during one of your interviews?

It rarely happens for me to have any technical issues, as my computer is top-notch and the internet connection is one of the best. But hey, the worst can happen to the best at any given time. So, for me, it's horrible to have technical issues with my computer and not be able to inform, at least, the candidate that I can't join the meeting.

How would you advise a developer to act like throughout an interview?

There are a lot of things to take in consideration in an interview, starting from dress code to communication. For me, there are a couple of aspects that I cannot overlook and represent key factors in my decisions:

  • be on time or, if you can't attend, please inform us prior to the scheduled hour of our meeting! It's quite simple: you can cancel and re-schedule.
  • please read the email invitation carefully and ask if you have any questions, it's not so nice to enter a meeting and wait until you find your webcam or realize you don't have one!
  • smile, have a positive attitude, be honest and give authentic details about your responsibilities in your work experience.

2. George Cretu - our General Manager responsible for all the good things inside the company, and how the wheels are turning. He's in charge of defining the roles of our developers, discussing projects, assigning people on projects, and basically making sure that the company is running properly.

What's the most common question you get after hiring?

"Hello George, when will I start working on a project?" Seriously, this is the most common question I receive from developers.

What's the worst reaction you got when a developer was placed on a project?

Off-topic, a developer who was supposed to start on a project where the company was selling electronic cigarettes, said we have a big problem because he doesn't smoke, and he decided to quit the project, which wasn't even started.

On topic: I remember that on a project, about 3 years ago, we started with a developer, who apparently, was an excellent communicator, he was always online, replying super fast, he was there when you needed him, after the first 4 days of work, the client said in the nicest way to me and him, that he doesn't see much work done in these 4 days and he wants to know what can we do, what he can do, to change this. We had a nice discussion with the developer, he gave some responses, the environment setup was heavy to set up and it was taking him longer than expected, but the client understood the situation and he was cool with it. The worse is what happened after that call: the developer blocked me from every single way of contacting him, Skype, Linkedin, Facebook, phone number, email! It was literally one of the strangest reactions I've received from someone.

Another worse reaction was from a developer who deleted the code from GitHub for no reason, leaving me with an angry client and an unfinished project which I had to resolve in a timeline of 5 days!

Give us a couple of "tips&tricks" into what's important to land a project. (Here at Upstack we also have a 2 week trial period on all of our projects)

  • Communication is the most important part: be yourself, be present, ask questions, give updates, have a daily standup short and precise, have retrospective meetings, share your thoughts with the other team members, don't be afraid to take the lead on something, to express your point of view, to engage in an action.
  • Work as if it was your product, make it your baby.
  • Do things that make you enjoy working, work on things that matter for you, it's not gonna be good if you will work on a project, just for the sake of money.
  • Project management: it's important to have a project manager, it's important to have a road map, a backlog of tasks, a vision of how the project should go and how should it look at the end, it's important to know the market it's addressing, who's going to use the product, who's the end-user, how will the product help him and so on.
  • Finance, yes, this is also important to land a project, if the client has financed, he can pick some of the fine developers in the world, which you can find at Upstack, and build a killer app/product. If he doesn't have enough money, things will be a bit harder as no one works for free these days.

3. Robert Dragne - our Client Success Manager responsible for integrating developers on their project roles and making them shine. He's the "go-to "person as he's managing the process between the client and us.

What is success for a success manager?

Success is taking on a new project, working with the entire team to understand the requirements, and create a workflow that is suitable for achieving the desired results. Success also means that along the way blockers are removed, backlogs are refined and the entire team feels a sentiment of ownership over the application they are building, thus contributing their entire expertise to the success of the project. At the end of the day, success in this relationship means that we (as a team) managed to deliver an innovative working piece of software.

How would you describe the perfect developer to work with?

The perfect developer asks the right questions for the entire duration of the project. This means that in an ideal world, a perfect developer will understand the business, it's needed, and how the software that is being built will positively impact the business and its final users. A perfect developer will communicate effectively, work efficiently and strive to constantly improve his and the team's workflow. Finally, the perfect developer should be flexible and similar to an artist, find creative solutions to deliver the best fitting software for his clients and end-users.

What's the best advice to give to a developer when starting a new project?

Listen, think, ask questions - gather as much information as possible and strive to create a very well-organized workflow.

As you can very well see, our goal is success and we strive towards it by communicating and learning each and every day.

Extend your team with remote talent. 
Evelina Stoian
Evelina Stoian