Episode #43: Greg Bell of Reverb Software

Episode #43: Greg Bell of Reverb Software

Aug 1, 12 • In Featured, Interviews, Podcast

In this episode, Greg Bell, of Reverb Software, talks about mistakes he made during the early stages of managing a distributed team and what he’s done to combat those mistakes, and the ideal people that make up a widely distributed team.


Show Notes:

Twitter: @gregbell
REVERB Software
Greg Bell Design + Development
Ruby Open Source Challenge

00:44 – Greg Bell Introduction and Background

  • Based in Vancouver, Canada
  • Reverb has 6 staff members distributed around the world: France and Vancouver
  • Shared office space that can be utilized

02:05 – Type of software worked on

  • Rails applications in medical and pharmaceutical enterprise spaces

03:00 – History with distributed teams

  • First experiences weren’t so good
  • Inherited distributed developers

05:20 – What went wrong at first?

  • Good technology wasn’t in place to allowl continuous communication
  • No IRC or Hip Chat
  • No daily standups
  • Language barrier
  • Time zone alignment

08:30 – Plans to avoid future mistakes while managing a distributed team

  • Try to get people in the same room as much as possible
  • Face time
  • Keep the team connected
  • Having the right people

09:45 – Ideal people

  • Enjoy writing down what they are doing
  • Documenting thoughts
  • Making it obvious what they are up to
  • Detail tickets

11:20 – A day in the life

  • Daily standup over Google Hangouts
  • Additional conversations between teams
  • HipChat all day

13:14 – HipChat

  • Easy to use
  • Integrated one-on-one video chat
  • More private than Skype

15:10 – Division of work between people in Vancouver and people in France

  • Everyone works on projects together
  • Meeting with clients is harder for those located in France
  • Iteration planning

18:42 – Being stalled during work due to others being unavailable

  • Always have multiple independent tasks you could be working on
  • Changing how you orient standups

23:00 – Connecting with clients

  • Tracking conversations
  • Taking meeting notes
  • Side conversations with clients can give a lot of context

25:08 – Dealing with young members of teams

  • Training/programs for young developers out of college
  • Remote pair programming

29:05 – Number one piece of advice for someone getting into distributed work

  • Show progress

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