Ideas on Managing Distributed Teams Using Agile [1/3] – Introduction and Ceremonies


Today the businesses are shifting to emerging economies due to reduced business operations cost and easily available workforce, like Russia, China, India, Philippines etc. If I put it more precisely, tomorrows business would be more virtual and distributed with distributed as its key element. Hence forth, the need for better managing the teams, using right tools and process become critical day by day for any enterprise company.

Shift and Need of having Distributed Agile Teams

  • Globally distributed teams reduce costs
  • Reaching Market more quickly with the “follow the sun’ Model
  • Distributed Teams Expand Access to New Markets
  • Acquisitions as a result of consolidation resulting in companies working together to integrate their business
  • Expanding for Innovation and Thought Leadership
  • Telecommuting gives options to communicate with their teams more effectively
  • Collaboration Tools – Improved tools for distributed communications and server-based, multiuser tools for product development are removing barriers, and more teams view distributed collaboration as an alternative.

Handling Distributed Agile Teams

Distributed teams heighten the need for clear, timely communication between sites. You might be thinking of some questions as the complexity increases with distance as time zones, language barriers, and cultural differences get in the way, let me resonate it for you:

  • Are distributed teams difficult to manage?
  • Are they failing to meet some expectations?
  • Are they having trouble working as a team?
  • Is team morale a problem?

Agile can’t fix every problem, but it can bring them out into the open where the team can evaluate and correct them. Agile puts challenges under a magnifying glass. As the image under the glass grows larger, they scream for attention, and your team’s performance will improve after they address the challenges and correct dysfunctions.

The key challenging areas which need to be addressed for distributed team management are as follow:

  • Communication as the core issue amongst the distributed teams
  • Different Time Zones and conflicting working hours
  • Cultural & Language Differences impacts the team’s communication and collaboration
  • Effective Tool Chain needed for requirements repositories, SCM, management, Build a& Deployment setup, defect tracking, and project management tools
  • Three XP practices that are particularly valuable are TDD, CI & test automation
  • Scheduling differences at team level for various activities becomes more challenging with increasing levels of distribution.
  • Time Dynamics plays a positive and negative impact on the distributed teams
  • Improper and inappropriate Telephony & Video Setup impact communication and create problems
  • Not providing access to calls, not set up available for Telephony Calls in meeting, acquaintance not there to Identifying the speaker, encouraging participants, Limiting the conversation using round robin technique, Why mute is important?, Check for any agreement or disagreement

How Agile helps to address these challenges within all the scrum ceremonies?

  • Self-managing Distributed Cheat sheet table
  • Preparing for Sprint Planning Sprint Planning Distributed Daily Scrum Meetings Collaboration within Sprint End of Sprint Reviews Retrospectives
  • Product Owner needs to understand the capacity and look for opportunities to create cross-functional teams within similar time zones. Sprint planning Meeting – Product Owners need to coordinate the priorities between the Product Backlogs of different
  • Teams, considering their dependencies between the projects, features and stories before giving the commitment.
  • Using the 3 questions effectively : PO, SM should highlight the importance of the 3 questions in front of the team members so they understand the purpose it. Scrum Teams should follow continuous integration, test automation, and test-driven development practice to foster distributed collaboration during the Sprint and helping teams complete user stories within a Sprint For distributed teams the developers should pick another member that can represent the team in front of the customer. Team members who are most able to communicate effectively with the team, PO, SM & stakeholders should present.

We’ll cover more in our next segment.

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