Distributed Team Management

Pattern Attributes

Intervention Management
Domain NA
Work Programme PAISEAN
Research Area GSD
Evidence Type Multiple Case study, Lit. review
Evidence Source Multi-Nationals, SMEs, individuals, literature
Evidence Strength Strong
Trigger need_team_fairness == true


You need to ensure that team members based in different locations are treated fairly. One team cannot be left feeling that they are less important than the other. The size of the sub teams can impact on project success, as can where the project manager is located.


Team members may feel that if larger groups of developers are located in one or more remote geographical sites all the work may be centralized in these locations. This can threaten productivity due to feelings of alienation and fear for the future of their jobs, particularly for team members based at the location from which the work has been outsourced. Additionally, management at one location may have responsibility for both their local and remote locations. A manager may give undue priority to their own divisional or organizational needs rather than the requirements of the full global team and the specific project on which they are working.


  • Introduce a dual reporting structure where team members at each location can report directly to a manager based at their site
  • Each site manager needs (in turn) to report to the manager responsible for the Global Project
  • Ensure that the global manager focuses on the requirements of the full global team
  • Ensure that the global manager is available to support the local manager
  • Ensure that the local manager focuses on the specific project on which they are working.
  • Try to ensure that team sizes at each location are of equal size so that no one team dominates
  • If team sizes are different, explain the rationale for this imbalance to the teams
  • Re-assure team members of smaller teams, or teams that are having work taken away from them that they have some level of job security

Document Roles and Responsibilities, Document Organizational knowledge.


  1. I. Richardson, V. Casey, F. McCaffery, J. Burton and S. Beecham (2012). “A process framework for global software engineering teams.” Information and Software Technology 54(11): 1175-1191.

  2. S. Beecham, (to appear). Motivating Software Engineers working in Virtual Teams across the Globe in Software Project Management for the 21st Century. Eds: C. Wohlin and G. Ruhe. Germany, Springer.

  3. J. Verner and S. Beecham (2010). Stakeholder Dissonance: Disagreements on project outcome and its impact on team motivation across three countries. ACM SIGMIS CPR ’10, Vancouver, Canada, May.

  4. D.W. Karolak, Global Software Development: Managing Virtual Teams and Environments, IEEE Computer Society Press, Los Alamitos, CA, USA, 1999.

  5. E. Bradner, G. Mark, T.D. Hertel, Effects of team size on participation, awareness, and technology choice in geographically distributed teams, in: Proceedings of the 36th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Hawaii, 2003.

  6. V. Casey, I. Richardson, Project management within virtual software teams, in: International Conference on Global Software Engineering, ICGSE 2006, IEEE, Florianopolis, Brazil, 2006.