Fully Remote Software Development Due to COVID Factor: Results of Industry Research (2020)

Fully Remote Software Development Due to COVID Factor: Results of Industry Research (2020)

Denis Pashchenko
DOI: 10.4018/IJSSCI.2021070105
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The internal transformation and using the fully remote software development under the influence of the pandemic has not only changed the industry, but heralded the construction of a new reality. This article presents the results of a study that covered the experience of transformation of 26 project teams from the world's leading IT corporations, software vendors, and high-tech companies with strong internal development practices: Alphabet, Amazon, BSC Group, Custis, Deutsche Bank, Evernote, Exness, Positive Technologies, PromSvyazBank, Sberbank, VTB, Yandex. Experts determined the results of rapid adaptation to changes, considered the medium-term impact of the pandemic factor on work processes, and made forecasts for 2021. The results of the study are accompanied by brief comments and recommendations of the author, the main idea of which is the need to quickly understand a new trend in software development, hiring specialists, and organizing teams associated with the refusal of high-tech IT companies to return to teamwork in shared offices.
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IT industry has a strong background in remote working and geographically distributed software development (GDD). GDD has some specific features, automation tools and own history of continues improvement (Espinosa et al., 2007). Moreover, from 2015 there are some huge and successful outstaffing and outsourcing companies that are presenting only remote software development services and made this service in best-of-the-breed manner.

COVID factor in spring of 2020 forced IT companies to switch on “fully remote mode” (FRM) for all teams. Lockdown, self-isolation, new state regulation in labor area dramatically changed traditional communications, task management and zones of responsibility for team leads, project managers and engineers. From the other hand – some companies were more than ready for “fully remote” software development (Pashchenko, 2017).

As we may see now – some IT companies didn’t get back into offices and present FRM as a new industry standard. But this complicated issue needs to be analyzed in different aspects and from the time-long perspective: positive and negative features, evolution of process, forecast for 2021.

In the center of this analysis should be placed the experience of modern and huge enterprises that are presenting IT industry and maintain the main world-wide software services. The corporation’s teams might be detached or integrated between each other, but the main issue is a long-term success and thousands or millions of customers, whom would be impacted after the transfer of working model to FRM.

Goals, Method and Details of Research

This research has been conducted in September-October of 2020 and covers the experience of 26 software development and IT support teams in companies with HQ in different countries from Russia to USA. The list of companies (in alphabetic order): Alphabet, Amazon, BSC Group, Custis, Deutsche Bank, Evernote, Exness, Positive Technologies, PromSvyazBank, Sberbank, VTB, Yandex. Some of the corporations are true IT companies with long successful track in industry, some of them has a strong in-house software development practices, included thousands of engineers world-wide and millions of customers, who is using their software every day.

The main goal of the research is to learn and analyze the process of rapid adaptation of software development (and support) teams to pandemic and shift into fully remote working mode as new industry standard. Learnt process includes expectations, main corresponding risks, the real performance of adaptation and mid-term impact on the future of IT domain.

Applied methods of research: questioning with Google.Form tool and personal remote interviews. The study contains two main sections: early adaptation to changes (March-April) and mid-term impact on software production (September-October). Also study has the section for forecast on 2021 about perspective of FRM as a new industry standard.

Every team has been presented in this study by 1-2 experts with roles of project manager, team lead, software developer or analyst. After the presenting of the results to participants some experts added some basic ideas into their forecast on 2021.

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