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How to build an agile culture for your remote developer team from the Philippines

Building an agile culture for your remote development team from the Philippines has some challenges because of the lack of physical presence. However, there are some ways for you to build the developer culture virtually. A few things are discussed below.

Conduct Code Reviews to your developers

Code Review or also called as Peer Code Review will play an important role in building an agile culture to your team.  Code review is a process of checking with fellow programmers and developers each other’s code for mistakes, wrong implementation or ensure to follow some best practices in order to accelerate development.

It is intended to find mistakes overlooked in the initial development phase, improving the overall quality of software. Code Reviews are done in different forms such as pair programming, informal walk throughs, and formal inspections. Since people from the Philippines and other parts of the globe have different timezones, distributing knowledge of the code between offices makes support and maintenance much easier. If the production issue will come out when the team is not online, other office can easily step in to support and resolve the issue. That is was you gain when dealing with a remote team. You’ll gain the expertise to handle cross-team or cross-location code reviews.

Build good relationship with your team

It is important in any program, especially agile program, to have a strong relationship and understanding across the team. Personal connections builds trust, alleviate self-organization, reduces missed expectations, and uplift morale. In your office, take time to get know everyone in the team and if possible, do the same with the team  you work with in the remote offices. Personal connections are essential in building good relationship with the team.

Build a united developer culture

There are four simple ways teams can make working across geographies easier and share a common developer culture:

1.) Overcommunicate decisions across all geographies

Ineffective communication is one of the work problem that may occur in a workplace. Over-communicating with the other team members may bring burden with them especially in a remote team. One way that will become a team united is through communication, by sharing ideas or problems in achieving milestones could be a best example. Making your communication tool better, a clear planning method, and having regular meeting with your team are ways to over communicate with them but will never annoy them.

2.) Minimize the friction in setting up the development environment

Wikipedia defines readme as: a file contains information and documentation about other files and directory of computer software.

And given the lists of the following contents:

  • Configuration instructions
  • Installation instructions
  • Operating instructions
  • A file manifest (list of files included)
  • Copyright and licensing information
  • Contact information for the distributor or programmer
  • Known bugs
  • Troubleshooting
  • Credits and acknowledgments
  • A changelog (usually for programmers)
  • A news section (usually for users)


3.) Clearly define the acceptance criteria

Acceptance criteria is important in building the right product/project. This will be the basis of the success or failure of a project or product. Acceptance criteria are the conditions that a software product must satisfy to be accepted by a user, customer, or in the case of system level functionality, the consuming system, these are also set of statements, each with a clear pass or fail result, that specify both functional and nonfunctional requirements.

4.) Define guidelines for filing bug reports

In order to have a good output of project or product, you need to know and test if it is really working well especially when it is already used by a customer or user. In testing project, there are bugs that may found and you need to have a time to resolve these issues as outlined by musescore , these are the things that you need to know in writing bug

  1. Isolate bug– the first step in writing bug report, wherein you need to know what the problem is.
  2. Check if you are using the latest version– update the version that you are using and check if the bug will still exist or not.
  3. Check if the bug is known- check if the bug is already documented in order to know if this issue has already existed.
  4. File each issue separately– in dealing with multiple issues, better separate them in order to solve and track them easily.
  5. Create a new issue– in this step you will need to answer several questions that are used in filling for the bug report
  6. Title– Title should be clearly and properly describe the problem.
  7. Description-know the right instruction or steps so that others can duplicate it.
  8. File Attachments– if you have other files that can help in resolving the issue then attached it.
  9. Submit– “Save” bug report and submit to the issue tracker
  10. Following up– even if the bug is already fixed by the developer, it is important to assure that it is completely fixed.


It is hard to build this culture even with your team in a co-located office, how much more to a distributed team, communication really becomes significantly harder. The challenge to train the team to understand that and to follow the best practices the team must adapt. It may sounds so easy but we overlook these trivial situations and we forget. Take time to build that agile culture within your team and tweak as much as you can until it fits to your team culture.



We understand Agile. We understand how Agile can help make or break your startup. At Bootyard, we’ve developing Ruby on Rails applications since 2011 using Kanban. If you are currently building your MVP for your startup, we’d love to have dialogue with you on how Agile can help you move forward efficiently. Shoot us an email at

Setup a test project before your MVP for your newly hired remote developer from the Philippines

Once you’ve examined and interviewed developer to a shortlist of just a few experts, a small initial paid project—a.k.a. a test project—gives you a chance to see each one of them in action. It’s an effective way to help you feel confident you’re working with the best freelancer for the project at hand.

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A trial project can also help you:

  • Sharpen the focus of your project
  • Try different approaches, or
  • Confirm whether your timelines are realistic.

1.) Spec out the test project

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If you have a project with a foreseeable scope of work and clear achievements, you can use the initial phase of your project or choose a module to start with that’s the same in difficulty to your remaining project. When considering developers, this is a procedure that can work well.

Break down your MVP into smaller components. For example, if your building a SEO SaaS application, you may start with an API wrapper for Google Search Engine. Or you may task the developer to build parts of the front-end.

This type of activity is commonly used to see how your dev team with creative skills approach a project.

2.) Paying for the test project

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What is a fixed-price project

The fixed-price project is normally budgeted before the start of the job, and if you accept, you are committed to the price. If you set a high price at the beginning and the project is completed on time and under budget, the fixed price may work out well for you. In the creative industry, however, the scope of the job can be unclear in the beginning stages. The client may not like the work or need additional changes and revisions that can add hours — or days — to your schedule. If a fixed price project increases, or more issues complicate the job, you could be stuck losing time and money.

What is an hourly project?

An hourly rate is most preferred for those freelancer and should be used when you are not sure of the job’s parameters, such as the revisions, deadline, or approval process. It is also an advantage for those who are working in house because it is the most convenient way to bill: You work a set number of hours and get paid your hourly rate for the actual time you spend on the project. In hourly rate, client will usually ask you to complete a daily or weekly time sheet, which is used to pay you and allocate expenses to the project.

An initial project often works well as a fixed-price project: It typically has a narrow scope of work, and you and the freelancer can negotiate a short timeline and a set price. This helps make it easier to set expectations for the first work you do together.

But setting up an hourly project can also be informative. For example, if you and the developer aren’t sure how long it should take to do a particular type of work, an hourly project can help you get a sense of a reasonable baseline. Although a developer who can’t estimate work may not be a good fit the role to build your MVP, which has a strict timeline and budget.

3.) Create a scorecard

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Evaluation is one way of knowing how a certain project works and will give you an idea if the project was successful or not.  

You already know the people on your shortlist are the experts. So how can you evaluate the results? It often isn’t easy.

Consider not just the skill and project requirements but also the factors that will make your next project a success. For example:

  • How well did they meet or exceed your needs?
  • Did they give you feedback or ask for clarifications proactively?
  • How effectively did they communicate?
  • Does the final product reflect the attention to detail you’re looking for?


A paid starter project gives you a preview of how someone performs when they’re doing real work and creates an opportunity for you to see how well you work together. By making it part of your process, you can have peace of mind that your project has the talent involved to help ensure it’s a success.



Testing out the technical skills of a developer is only half of what you need to build the MVP of your startup. You also need to ensure that developer has experience to scale the application and the dev team. At Bootyard, we have been scaling Ruby on Rails applications since 2011. We have agile practices geared towards help remote clients. If you have an idea you want to work, email us at

Making Software Development Teams from the Philippines Work

Outsourcing software development teams have become a fact of business life, so what does it take to make them work effectively? Here are ten basic principles for making this happen:

1.) Meet with the team early on

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It may seem paradoxical to say in a post on virtual teams, but face-to-face communication is still better than virtual when it comes to building relationships and fostering trust, an essential foundation for effective teamwork. If you can’t do it, it’s not the end of the world (focus on doing some virtual team building). But if you can get the team together, use the time to help team members get to know each other better, personally and professionally, as well to create a shared vision and a set of guiding principles for how the team will work. Schedule the in-person meeting early on, and reconnect regularly (semi-annually or annually) if possible.

2.) Clarify tasks and processes, not just goals and roles.

All new leaders need to align their team on goals, roles and responsibilities in the first 90 days. With virtual teams, however, coordination is inherently more of a challenge because people are not co-located. So it’s important to focus more attention on the details of task design and the processes that will be used to complete them. Simplify the work to the greatest extent possible, ideally so tasks are assigned to sub-groups of two or three team members. And make sure that there is clarity about work process, with specifics about who does what and when. Then periodically do “after-action reviews” to evaluate how things are going and identify process adjustments and training needs.

3.) Commit to a communication charter.

A Communication Charter is a formal document that outlines your team’s preferred communication methods. It helps to reduce unnecessary messages, saves people time, and improves the focus and efficiency of both team and individual communication. Communication on virtual teams is often less frequent, and always is less rich than face-to-face interaction, which provides more contextual cues and information about emotional states — such as engagement or lack thereof. The only way to avoid the pitfalls is to be extremely clear and disciplined about how the team will communicate. Create a charter that establishes norms of behavior when participating in virtual meetings, such as limiting background noise and side conversations, talking clearly and at a reasonable pace, listening attentively and not dominating the conversation, and so on. The charter also should include guidelines on which communication modes to use in which circumstances, for example when to reply via email versus picking up the phone versus taking the time to create and share a document.

4.) Leverage the best communication technologies.

Developments in collaborative technologies — ranging from shared workspaces to multi-point video conferencing — unquestionably are making virtual teaming easier. However, selecting the “best” technologies does not necessarily mean going with the newest or most feature-laden. It’s essential not to sacrifice reliability in a quest to be on the cutting edge. If the team has to struggle to get connected or wastes time making elements of the collaboration suite work, it undermines the whole endeavor. So err on the side of robustness. Also be willing to sacrifice some features in the name of having everyone on the same systems. Otherwise, you risk creating second-class team members and undermining effectiveness. Dev team won’t be successful without communicating with the other team members, since, they need to collaborate in doing their different roles and projects. Here are some list of tools that you can use in communicating with your dev team:

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5.) Build a team with rhythm.

When some or all the members of a team are working separately, it’s all-too-easy to get disconnected from the normal rhythms of work life. One antidote is to be disciplined in creating and enforcing rhythms in virtual team work. This means, for example, having regular meetings, ideally same day and time each week. It also means establishing and sharing meeting agenda in advance, having clear agreements on communication protocols, and starting and finishing on time. If you have team members working in different time zones, don’t place all the time-zone burden on some team members; rather, establish a regular rotation of meeting times to spread the load equitably.

6.) Agree on a shared language.

Virtual teams often also are cross-cultural teams, and this magnifies the communication challenges — especially when members think they are speaking the same language, but actually are not. The playwright George Bernard Shaw famously described Americans and the British as “two nations divided by a common language.” His quip captures the challenge of sustaining shared understanding across cultures. When the domain of team work is technical, then the languages of science and engineering often provide a solid foundation for effective communication. However, when teams work on tasks involving more ambiguity, for example generating ideas or solving problems, the potential for divergent interpretations is a real danger. Take the time to explicitly negotiate agreement on shared interpretations of important words and phrases, for example, when we say “yes,” we mean… and when we say “no” we mean…and post this in the shared workspace.

7.) Create a “virtual water cooler.”

To be part of the remote team could be a hard one, you will have busy days working with projects or any other works that you need to fill in. That’s why the water cooler is important in the dev team. Water cooler is where you can take a break and of course, hydrate. It could be anywhere in the office, where you can reconnect and deal with your co team members. Sometimes, some of the best discussions take place around the water cooler and ideas are coming up on the spot. This water cooler is an important part of any company’s culture and crucial to your employees feeling like a team, even if they are not working on the same project together. Creating virtual space for your remote team, you can already check them and contribute to the conversation. It is a place where your employees can communicate with each other.

The image of co-workers gathering around a water cooler is a metaphor for informal interactions that share information and reinforce social bonds. Absent explicit efforts to create a “virtual water cooler,” team meetings tend to become very task-focused; this means important information may not be shared and team cohesion may weaken. One simple way to avoid this: start each meeting with a check-in, having each member take a couple of minutes to discuss what they are doing, what’s going well and what’s challenging. Regular virtual team-building exercises are another way to inject a bit more fun into the proceedings. Also enterprise collaboration platforms increasingly are combining shared workspaces with social networking features that can help team members to feel more connected.

8. Clarify and track commitments.

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When teams work remotely, it’s inherently more difficult to do this, because there is no easy way to observe engagement and productivity. As above, this can be partly addressed by carefully designing tasks and having regular status meetings. Beyond that, it helps to be explicit in getting team members to commit to define intermediate milestones and track their progress. One useful tool: a “deliverables dashboard” that is visible to all team members on whatever collaborative hub they are using. If you create this, though, take care not to end up practicing virtual micro-management. There is a fine line between appropriate tracking of commitments and overbearing (and demotivating) oversight.

9.) Foster shared leadership.

Defining deliverables and tracking commitments provides “push” to keep team members focused and productive; shared leadership provides crucial “pull.” Find ways to involve others in leading the team. Examples include: assigning responsibility for special projects, such as identifying and sharing best practices; or getting members to coach others in their areas of expertise; or assigning them as mentors to help on-board new team members; or asking them to run a virtual team-building exercise. By sharing leadership, you will not only increase engagement, but will also take some of the burden off your shoulders.

Shared leadership involves maximizing all of the human resources in an organization by empowering individuals and giving them an opportunity to take leadership positions in their areas of expertise. With more complex markets increasing the demands on leadership, the job in many cases is simply too large for one individual.

10.) Don’t forget the 1:1s.

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Leaders’ one-to-one performance management and coaching interactions with their team members are a fundamental part of making any team work. Make these interactions a regular part of the virtual team rhythm, using them not only to check status and provide feedback, but to keep members connected to the vision and to highlight their part of “the story” of what you are doing together.

In order to have a successful 1-on-1s session, you need to take time to prepare things needed for the session like, the set schedule and the agenda/topic. During the session, it is also important that you will know what are the important things that they wanted to share in the team. Talking about work habits, work goals, and team’s happiness could be an ideal topic for this session.  Communication in the workplace is one of the weakest part of some organization. 1-on-1 is a great process to have a frequent conversation between the manager and employees. Although it’s a time-consuming effort, it will make a big impact in the organization. Most people like to speak about their accomplishments and concerns. Have an open ear and actively listen to everything your team members have to say. You can guide the conversation to understand even better what is meant and provide immediate guidance and feedback.



When launching your startup, there a million things that could go wrong, especially if you are outsourcing your work to a remote team. You need a reliable team who have experience of launching and scaling software applications.

At Bootyard, we have been launching and scaling Ruby on Rails apps since 2011. We have agile practices in place geared towards working efficiently with remote clients. If you have an project you want to work on, feel free to contact us