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How we manage Software Developers in Vietnam?

Keith Tan
October 09, 2018
Many managers in the tech industry struggle to manage software developers when language and geography is no issue. But if you are setting up a team of software developers in Vietnam, then it is absolutely imperative that you get the management piece right.
Management is the art of getting a team organized, delivering products on time, and within resource constraints. It’s also about managing expectations.

1. A manager’s role is to handle all non-development work
Your team of Vietnamese software engineers are professionals and experts at technology and writing code. Their job should be to focus on all dev work, and leave the administrative stuff to the manager. (That’s our job by the way. Joe, our co-founder who is based full time in Ho Chi Minh City. He and his team handle all the administrative work of providing and maintaining a great office space, provide internet, handle payroll, take care of government regulations and so on).

2. A manager’s role is to manage the process of work being done by the developers
If you are setting up a team of 4 to 5 software developers in Vietnam, you might want to consider hiring a Project Manager, or a Service Delivery Manager, who is responsible for informing clients, teams and internal stakeholders of progress, setting goals, and managing deadlines and expectations.

3. Motivate the team
“Leading by example” is the way we do it at Wonderlabs Vietnam. We’re there in the office bright and early so that your software developers know what kind of behaviour they should be modelling. Joe and his human resource team regularly sit down with each of the software developers and motivate them with stories of success, recognizing their achievements and so on. These bring energy and motivates them to work harder.

4. Avoid altering tasks mid-way during the project
We understand that things change. It is the nature of life. But when your Vietnamese software development team is not in the same office, it is difficult to communicate the “why”. And without the effective communication of the “why”, software developers can get a bit demoralized. Think of it this way, if you had to chuck out 2 weeks of work that you had put creative thought and concentration into, you would feel bad too.

5. Communicate, communicate
Just because your software developers are based in Ho Chi Minh city and not in your head office, does not mean you should treat them badly, or purely rely on instruction-based management. Always communicate the why. And if you fall short, we’re here to catch you. This is an integral part of our value - managing and keeping your software development team motivated, engaged. When we see signs where its veering off the path, we intervene.

6. Get personal
Our clients with the best track records in managing their Vietnamese developers always get personal. A software developer who respects you and your vision will work harder for you. Find out each person’s personal passions, know they kids’ names and find out what sports they play. We’re there to help, but they know very clearly that you are their employer. It’s always stronger when it comes from you.

PS: This is an opinion piece by Keith Tan, Group CEO of Wonderlabs. Wonderlabs is the leading service provider helping companies build and manage software development teams in Indonesia and Vietnam. Across our various shared and dedicated centers, we have over 350+ active software developers. Since our founding in 2015, we have grown rapidly through innovation and our relentless mission focus - Connecting you to success and productivity. Alumni of Wonderlabs have gone on to work at some of the biggest companies in Southeast Asia.

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"I started Wonderlabs because I experienced the problems of building and managing a distributed software development team in Indonesia from 2011 to 2015. I wanted to make it seamless and frictionless for companies to build and manage teams. On the other hand, I found that there are so many amazing software engineers in Indonesia and Vietnam and wanted to connect them to employers in Singapore, Hong Kong and Jakarta" - Ivan Chang, Executive Chairman, Wonderlabs Group

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