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How to manage remote development teams with Backlog

How-tosSoftware developmentBacklog
Backlog Staff

Backlog Staff

March 11, 2024

Despite the renewed push from leaders to return to the office, remote work is here to stay, and with the right approach, development teams are well-positioned for success. 

Remote development teams can: 

  • Focus on complex coding tasks by eliminating office distractions 
  • Attract top talent across time zones and continents
  • Optimize the workday, targeting hours of peak productivity and creativity
  • Save money, eliminating cost drivers like office space and commuting

But if you’ve ever worked remotely, you know it comes with a few challenges. For example, asynchronous schedules and disparate time zones complicate communication and collaboration. As the boundaries between work and home blur, work-life balance can suffer, and team members may risk burnout

The good news: you can mitigate these challenges with thoughtful project management. 

Below, we’ll show why Backlog, a comprehensive online project management platform, is one of the best tools for remote development teams

What is Backlog?

Backlog is an online project management platform trusted by over 18,000 companies worldwide. The platform serves as a hub for your development team’s work, enhancing collaboration for geographically distributed development teams as well as hybrid and in-person organizations. 


  • Makes project assets easy to access for all project contributors, wherever they are
  • Enhances information-sharing with project wikis, file storage, task comments, and notifications
  • Encourages remote collaboration with in-app code reviews and version control
  • Streamlines your team’s workflow with custom task statuses, dependencies, and analytics

That means remote developers can complete projects more efficiently, maintain higher quality standards, and stay productive on their terms. 

How to set up and organize your remote development team with Backlog

Each development project is unique, so the same project management processes might not work each time. That’s why it’s important to have a flexible tool that allows you to customize your approach to every single project. That way, you can better adapt to the unique challenges and nuances of complex development projects and ensure your team has the resources they need to succeed. 

Let’s say your team is developing a mobile app while also doing ongoing maintenance for another software project. The mobile app project may work better if you use Scrum, with sprints allowing you to incorporate feedback and improvements quickly. However, your team might prefer Kanban for software maintenance, whose easy-to-understand task board and continuous delivery accommodate the unpredictable volume of support requests. 

Do both with Backlog, customizing each project workflow to maximize efficiency and quality.

Creating your project

Create a new project directly from your dashboard by clicking the Add Project button or the + icon at the top of the screen. Then, name your project and assign it a Project Key: a short acronym, for example, BGTRK for a bug tracking project or IOSDEV for an iOS development project.   

For complex projects, enhance organization with custom issue categories. Create these in the Project Settings menu in the sidebar. 

Backlog comes with custom issue categories for common use cases, including tasks, bugs, and requests. Alternatively, use custom categories to group tasks by work type. For example, a remote development team might have categories like UX and design, documentation, feature development, bug fixes, or technical debt. Creating a custom issue type suited to the needs of your project makes it easy to ensure everyone on your team is aligned on their next steps. 

Next, assemble your team.

To invite members to your project, visit the Members menu under Project Settings. Then, search for users or teams by name to add them. 

Need to add someone who isn’t on Backlog yet? Open your Organization Settings and visit the Members tab. Invite your new users by email or send them a direct link to join. Then, add them to your project team.

Plan your project by creating tasks

Now that you’ve created your project, it’s time to plan it by creating tasks and setting milestones and deadlines. This will help you:

First, create custom issue templates to streamline task creation and organization. You can access this feature on the Issue Types menu under Project Settings. 

Note: If you’re new to Backlog, the tool’s interface calls tasks “Issues.” We’ll use those terms interchangeably here.

Custom issue templates make task creation easier by showing team members which information to include. For example: 

  • A pre-filled template for frequently repeated issues with minimal changes.
  • A questionnaire for complex tasks so important information isn’t skipped. 

Development teams often use markdown formatting when creating issue templates to ensure consistency in how they set up new issues and manage tasks. 

Once you’re ready to create your tasks, click Add Issue in the project sidebar menu.

Use the description to share a summary of the task or specific instructions your team can follow. Then, set your task’s priority and due date, and assign the task to one of your team members using the dropdown menus. Tasks that are part of a larger project can be added to specific milestones or versions. 

For more complex issues, break the work down into subtasks. This allows you to divide work between multiple team members, which improves your resource allocation and helps you track progress more accurately. 

To add a subtask, click the plus (+) icon on the issue page. Now, create your new subtask using the same issue creation workflow. (Having trouble? Make sure you’ve enabled subtasking in Project Settings.)

Managing your deliverables

Track your remote team’s progress in Backlog with project milestones, versions, and releases. 

Milestones are key anchors along a project’s timeline. They usually align specific objectives (e.g., completing a particular feature) within the overall project. Setting milestones helps your remote development team stay productive by:

  • Targeting incremental objectives for quicker wins
  • Understanding the project timeline more concretely

Create custom milestones in the Versions/Milestones menu under Project Settings. Then provide: 

  • A unique name and short description
  • Start and end dates to place the milestone along the project timeline

Once you’ve created them, associate tasks with key milestones on the Add Issue page. 

Milestones will also help populate your Burndown Chart, which you can use to track your team’s overall progress and identify delays. If you don’t see it, make sure “Enable charts” is selected in your Project Settings.  

How to communicate and collaborate with your remote development team with Backlog

Collaboration and communication are vital to the success of any software project. But that importance is multiplied when your team is scattered across regions and time zones. 

If your team fails to communicate, you’ll likely fall behind on your deliverables. Establishing clear processes and embracing supportive technology can make an enormous difference.

Backlog’s communication and collaboration features can facilitate the remote teamwork you need.

Sharing knowledge and resources

Development projects evolve constantly. No matter how thorough you are when laying out your tasks, as the team works, new information will appear, and deliverables will evolve. 

Backlog offers several features to capture these updates and keep your whole team in the loop. 

For shorter updates or requests, users can add comments to any Backlog task or subtask, tagging any user to bring it to their attention. 

When a user is tagged or notified in a comment, they’ll receive an in-app notification and/or an email, depending on their preferences. Integrating Backlog with your team’s communication tool, whether Slack or Microsoft Teams, ensures your team will receive updates there, too. 

To enable email notifications, open the Email Settings menu within Personal Settings. Users can opt into email notifications for: 

  • Mentions
  • Issue updates
  • New comments on your projects
  • Wiki updates
  • Git and Subversion updates
  • Daily project reports 

For more comprehensive information sharing, use the Project Wiki. A wiki is a set of reference pages that can be edited collaboratively and serves as a single point of truth for a project. 

Remote teams can use their project wiki to share processes, technical documentation, research, meeting notes, and more. Consider them a centralized repository for all resources associated with a project. You can add files, hyperlinks, visuals, and more to your project wiki and update it in real time as your project evolves.

Access your wiki editor via the Project Sidebar. To add a new page, click the + icon. 

To learn more about how to use Backlog’s expansive wiki features, check out our Wiki Guide

Collaborating with team members

Seamless collaboration can help your dev team maintain rigorous quality standards. Code reviews and version control are essential for catching and resolving bugs. 

Backlog has not one but two features that can help you handle this process smoothly.  


Git is one of the most popular version control systems available. Enable it in your Project Settings. 

Many developers prefer Git because it enables you to work locally and offline. Strong merging and conflict resolution also make it well-suited to remote teams. Because contributors work locally (via copies of the main repository), this mitigates the risk of failures. However, Git does have a bit of a learning curve. 

Projects with Git enabled have a repository where users can access the most current version of the code base. That means developers can access all of a code base’s branches – where developers are working on new features or bug fixes – and the version history.

Users can create, update, or delete these code branches directly from Backlog’s interface or via the command line in your local development environment. 

Find your Git repository in the Project Sidebar. 

If you’re new to Git and want to learn more about it, read our simple Git tutorial for beginners. 


Like Git, Subversion, also referred to as SVN,  enables you to create a project-specific repository to store your code base and manage version control. Some advantages include: 

  • An easier learning curve
  • More granular control via a centralized repository
  • More efficient storage of binary files

As with Git, Subversion enables you to make changes, review code and compare it to previous versions, and initiate pull requests.

Find your Subversion repository in the sidebar menu. 

How to optimize and improve your remote development team with Backlog

If you’ve never managed a remote team before, assessing productivity and managing workloads may seem daunting. After all, if you’ve never seen your team in person, how can you assess them? 

Backlog offers all the insights you need. Kanban and Gantt charts enable you to track statuses and timelines, while burndown charts allow team leaders and executives to measure progress against deadlines at a glance. 

Need to make adjustments? No problem – customize your board and your team’s workflow to eliminate roadblocks and stay productive. 

Analyzing productivity

Analyze your team’s progress in Backlog in three different ways: 

  • Kanban boards
  • Gantt charts
  • Burndown charts

The Kanban board is a default board for all projects. It sorts tasks into columns based on status, showing which tasks are in progress or waiting to be conquered. Your remote team can use it to manage their own assignments and measure their individual workloads. 

Gantt charts illustrate project schedules. On a Gantt chart, each task and milestone is placed along a timeline. This can help you allocate resources more accurately, manage task dependencies, spot delays, and delegate more efficiently. 

Finally, a Burndown chart illustrates your project’s remaining work versus the time left to complete it in one easy-to-understand image. This can help you predict your team’s likelihood to hit their deadlines, identify scope creep, and get a quick bird’s eye view of your project status. 

Once activated, your Burndown Chart will appear on the Project Home. Access your Gantt Chart via the sidebar. 

Customizing your remote team’s workflow

No matter how in-depth your initial project plan is, at some point, its needs will shift. That’s the whole reason software development teams use Agile. And if you want your team to hit their deadlines, you must adapt with equal agility.

Picture this: your development team is taking longer than projected to complete tasks. When you dig into the issue, you learn that key information is either missing or difficult to find. 

Luckily, you have Backlog. So, you create Custom Fields to make your project and issues more descriptive, giving your team the information they need to be successful. 

To create custom fields, you’ll need two things: 

  • A Premium or Enterprise plan
  • Project Administrator status

Find the Custom Fields menu in Project Settings. 

Here’s another example. Your project team is losing time jumping between Backlog and their other tools, cross-referencing information, and wires are starting to cross. 

Backlog’s library of integrations eliminates this problem:

  • Connect to your favorite communication apps like Microsoft Teams, Slack, or Google Chat.
  • Link to files saved on your favorite cloud storage service.
  • Import data from other project management applications
  • Create issues externally and add them to your project

And that’s just the beginning. Review our library of API integrations to find and install your perfect solution. 

Protecting your data

Keeping your data secure is essential for any project. What could be more tragic than losing all of your project details? Only one thing: losing your deliverables.  

Nulab, the creators of Backlog, maintains rigid security standards to prevent this from happening–and mitigate the impact if it ever does, including: 

  • Secure Data Storage via Amazon Web Services (AWS) due to their reliability and security standards 
  • High Compliance Standards with ISO/IEC 27001, ISO/IEC 27017, and ISO/IEC 27018
  • Regular Backups by continuously forwarding all data to secure backup servers and performing once daily full backups of all Backlog data
  • Encrypted Connections with SSL and HTTPS

Learn more by reading Nulab’s data protection policy.

And there’s more you can do. 

If you’re on an Enterprise Plan, you can host Backlog on your own private server, giving you complete control over its security, permissions, user access, and backup schedule.

If you’re not an Enterprise user, create your own backups by exporting your issue details

First, visit the Issues page via the sidebar and search for the issues you want to download.

Then select the issues you want to back up, click the more …  icon, and choose your download format.

Make managing remote development teams easy with Backlog

At the end of the day, remote or otherwise, nobody knows what your development team needs to succeed better than you. 

And even then, sometimes you need to adapt on the fly.

That’s why you need an ultra-customizable project management platform.

With Backlog, you’ve got workflows, in-depth issue customization, subtasking, streamlined code review, and more at your fingertips. Working together remotely never went so smoothly.

See for yourself with a free trial.



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