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Expert Interview with Eddy Balcikonis on Working with a Team

Remember group assignments in college? Most people dreaded them because of the lack of accountability and reliance on peers for their success.

In the real world, that feeling is amplified Sometimes, for one reason or another, you have to go with group projects – often with teams you’re not familiar with. While this can have several benefits such as reduced costs and expertise, these projects also have their fair share of obstacles.

Edmundas BalĨikonis,the CEO at TrackDuck, has been working with his team to fix those problems. LeapGo recently spoke with him to find out more.

What inspired your work at TrackDuck?

TrackDuck was born from a single question – one that all three co-founders were facing. That is, how can we collaborate on web projects and get feedback in a more efficient way?

For seven years, I had been working as an internet marketer, and there were constantly problems with design changes and bug fixes – and then trying to track it all. At TrackDuck, we are working hard to streamline remote communication, making collaboration on web projects a piece of cake no matter what distance separates the development team.

Prior to TrackDuck, my co-founder and CDO Anton was an art director with a digital agency. In that role, he had to deal with marketer and client requests like mine. Further, our CTO Yauhen was making enterprise solutions for various US companies that outsourced development to Eastern Europe. With so much going on, we wanted to make the process of communication on web projects simpler.

Is it a common practice for companies to contract their websites to out-of-state/non-local agencies?

Yes, of course. There are two main reasons for that: a lack of local talent diversity and better terms (usually price) from non-local agencies. Outsourcing to Eastern Europe is very common, for instance, as expertise in design and development here is of a high level and prices are low.

You can look at average developer salaries in Eastern Europe by country here and compare them to those in San Francisco. These are the main differences along with the value added. However, once you start working remotely and outsourcing, communication may get out of hand – and that’s where tools like TrackDuck come in hand.

In these types of contracts, what are common frustrations/breakdowns with communication, and how does TrackDuck help to bridge that communication gap?

The biggest pitfall of remote communication is feedback. Web projects are hard to provide and receive feedback on remotely. You need to tell the exact placement of a bug and describe it in detail, which is sometimes hard to word. This is especially true for clients because of details regarding different types of software and language barriers. Different countries also have different cultures and may understand and approach work in different ways, which could cause further problems with communication.

With TrackDuck, you can mark bugs and leave comments on live websites and any image files in an instant. Then, TrackDuck automatically captures details on your browser, resolution, and OS as well as a screenshot and comment, and attaches everything to a task. That makes it easier to collaborate on web projects for both the client and the developer.

How do differing time zones play a role in this process? Are the frustrations of not having real-time communication still evident?

Effective asynchronous communication is possible, though everyone on a team should have access to a conversation history so that anyone could catch up no matter where they were based. A few hour overlap between time zones and some daily real-time chats can help not to get off the track, too.

The most important thing is to have clear deadlines and deliverables for the projects. Everyone on the team should know who is responsible for what, and a dedicated person should oversee project management and communication from both sides. We have written more about how to run a remote team successfully here.

Aside from being consumer-friendly, how does this technology benefit the web designer?

For them, it’s way easier to get feedback. They don’t need to ask the same questions over and over again like, “What’s your browser? Screen resolution? Operating software?” Besides that, TrackDuck works as a task manager where they can prioritize work and track their own progress. To streamline work progress for everyone on the team, TrackDuck can also be integrated into 19 project management and chat tools; so designers could have all the tasks synced to Trello, while a developer would get automatically synced tasks to Atlassian JIRA.

Why is communication so vital in these types of transactions/relationships?

Good communication creates clarity in work and trust in the team. Web development involves a lot of communication and feedback from both an internal team and clients, and often needs to be delivered on very tight budgets and timelines. However, the more people there are, the more things can go wrong. That’s why effective communication plays such a crucial role and should be taken seriously from the beginning of the project.

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