Getting the BEST out of Agile with your Remote Team (PART I)

Software development concept in tag cloudWe touched previously on the successful implementation of Agile with your outsourcing team (something we at Galil Software have plenty of experience with, and which we wrote about here – now it’s time to talk about getting the best out of Agile with your remote team.

There are a number of important factors to consider when implementing Agile remotely (whether you outsourced or not), and this article discusses the initial setup process, a hugely important part of setting up your Agile teams for success. (Part II will look at more issues that should also be considered, including what tools to consider using and how to build trust and relationships, so watch out for that one).

So, can I really get Agile to work with my remote team?

Yes. Yes, you can. The major caveat we have to add is that it often depends on how you get your Agile team setup and running (and how much you take on board what we suggest in this article!).

We’ve seen many attempts at setting up remote Agile teams, and, to be honest, some were doomed from the start. Sticking a few remote team members together, sending them a PPT file with Agile tips and tricks, and telling them “You’re going Agile” really isn’t the best preparation.

You might not have the budget for an elaborate training system, or the capability to fly in all remote team members for some intensive, hands-on training, but take it from us, we’ve seen some very successful implementations of Agile by companies that have invested in that initial setup. A little bit of foresight from those in management, and the ROI numbers can be impressive…and it might also pave the way for team harmony, with remote teams being able to put names to faces, which adds a level of familiarity that can only help, and certainly not hinder.

The THREE critical elements

So, what makes for a successful remote Agile implementation? In short, we’d have to whittle it down to the following THREE critical elements:

  • Ensure your teams have the correct leadership and skills assigned. Also make sure your team can work on elements of UI Design, Architecture or Testing (where required) and will have access to the relevant concerns.
  • Train the team together (if funds are truly limited, even video conferencing can help significantly) and establish roles, including the ever important Scrum Master and Product Owner. Note that some kind of social interaction between teams is hugely important.
  • Establish a “charter” of practices and standards that all teams can easily comply with. This might help in avoiding the lure of skipping a step in the Agile process (a stand-up or code review, for example) – we highly recommend you follow through with all steps, however tricky it may be to do so.

One other semi-critical element that we should probably also list here is get your distributed Agile teams to review / run demos together. If your organization is truly intent on producing the goods, successful cross-team collaboration will undoubtedly help in getting you on the road to glory.

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Yes, we know some of you may have reservations, but remote Agile teams can work, and work very well. In our opinion, the secret is in the preparation and setup, as once that is in place, you’re well on the way to ensuring a successful Agile implementation.

For more tips on remote Agile implementation, watch out for Part II – coming soon!

Want to know how we can help with your remote Agile implementation? Feel free to get in touch here to hear more details.