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How to use Agile in distributed team environment
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How to use Agile in distributed team environment

Posted By Praveen Joshi on 15th March 2018
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When it comes to managing projects, Agile has become an essential way to ensure that the whole team is on the same page and the project keeps moving forward. It’s a process that was designed to boost interactions and make teams work in close-proximity but that doesn’t mean it’s not suited for the distributed team environment. 

With more teams opting for a flexible environment to match the needs of each individual project, it’s essential that the processes that ensure communication are efficient. Agile could provide the solution.

 When it comes to managing projects, Agile has become an essential way to ensure that the whole team is on the same page and the project keeps moving forward. It’s a process that was designed to boost interactions and make teams work in close-proximity but that doesn’t mean it’s not suited for the distributed team environment. 

With more teams opting for a flexible environment to match the needs of each individual project, it’s essential that the processes that ensure communication are efficient. Agile could provide the solution.

What is Agile?

The Agile way of working was created as a new approach to software development that focussed on a collaborative effort of self-organising cross-functional teams. It’s become popular thanks to its ability to respond rapidly to changes as flexible responses and continuous improvements are embedded throughout the process.

Since becoming a popular way of working, Agile had underpinned a wide range of software development frameworks, including Scrum and Kanban. It’s become commonplace to see daily stand-up meetings to huddle together for a short update on the project, ensuring every member of the team understand where it’s heading and the next steps that need to be taken.

The 12 core values of Agile, which includes delivering working software frequently and customer satisfaction at an early stage, help firms to deliver projects that exceed expectations on time.

The benefits of Agile are obvious but is it still possible to take this approach in a distributed team environment. The short answer is yes, but it does take some adjustments to the framework to make it work. Whether a development team is based at a software offshore company at a remote location or is in-house but with team members working from home, IT teams can use Agile to their advantage.

4 tips for Scrum masters that want to use Agile in a distributed team environment

Many Scrum masters don’t feel comfortable with the evolving distributed team environment but adapting the Agile approach can provide a solution. An unwillingness to work with remote teams can be down to lack of experience in the situation, effectively deploying Agile principles across both onshore and offshore teams can help maintain control and results.

If you’re a Scrum master keen to make Agile work for you in a distributed team environment, these four hacks can help ensure you get the most out of your resources.

Communication is a core part of the Agile way of working and one of the biggest challenges to implementing it when the whole project team is located at a single site.

Luckily, technology means that this doesn’t have to be an issue. Investing in quality communication tech ensures everyone that is part of the project can be part of the daily updates. There are plenty of communication options available, including GoToMeeting, Slack, Skype, and Google Hangouts. You don’t just have to rely on audio links either, utilising webcam technology ensures you still have vital face-to-face interaction between teams when it’s necessary.

Having multiple teams working across time zones can be seen as a hindrance to Scrum masters but that doesn’t have to be the case. When considered at the planning stage, time zone difference can actually be an advantage that allows work to flow and for obstacles to be overcome quickly.

Through getting dependency items development by teams that start first, you’re able to minimise wait times and ensure that each team always has enough in backlogs to continue with development. Agile can help you better hand over the work between teams smoothly and allow a continuous flow of work, removing unnecessary delays.

This is one of the areas where adaption of the original Agile method is vital, particularly if you’re working across multiple time zones. While traditionally you would have only one Scrum leader for each project, when you’re working with a distributed team it’s essential to have a designated offshore Scrum leader.

This step ensures that there is consistent support for developers, even when the Scrum master isn’t available. Professionals holding this position can also act as a communication point between the product owner and offshore development, ensuring that communication continues to flow to allow for improved project development throughout the lifecycle.

While using technology to communicate through audio and video is important, taking the step to allow for effective communication at any point should be a top priority when managing an Agile project over multiple sites.

Dedicated interactive boards can support this, such as RealTimeBoard, that allow team members to communicate in real time to flag up and resolve issues as quickly as possible. This option can also link directly with a Jira account to make distributed team communication effortless.

Of course, while there are benefits to using Agile in a distributed team environment, there are challenges that will need to be overcome too. Agile works well because it empowers each development to create successful teams, as a result, you’ll need to ensure that both onshore and offshore developers are equally involved in the sprint retrospectives. It might require a few adaptions but the result is that everyone has an opportunity to either share knowledge or raise concerns, leading to a better product.

Here at RSK Business Solutions, we take a collaborative, Agile approach to working with our clients. Our offshore software development services are designed to always deliver projects on time, on budget, and to incredibly high standards. Our commitment to ensuring that communication between onshore and offshore teams remains effective at every stage is a core part of the way we work and the results we achieve.

Agile might be associated with in-house software development teams but it’s time for those teams that have embraced the move to flexible working environments to reap the benefits too.

 

If you will like to find how Agile can be implemented for your distributed software team then Contact us to find more.

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