QA Automation

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

QA AutomationOK, so hopefully you’ve already read Part I (if not, click here); Now it’s time for Part II of a subject we’ve become somewhat expert in – getting the best out of Agile with your remote team.

We spoke previously about the important factors you need to consider when you work with your remote team using Agile, including the initial setup steps and critical elements which, in our view, are paramount to success. In this article we’ll be taking a look at two more important factors: what tools you really have to consider working with, and how to build trust and relationships with your remote team.

So, what tools do I need for my remote Agile team?

Well, this is a question we come across many times. What tools should our team use? Should we use this for that team, and that for this team? TFS, VersionOne or Rally? And so on.

And those questions are fair game of course, as you and your organization seek out the very best options to ensure an efficient and productive environment.

But here’s where we stick our honesty cap on (Oh yes, honesty pays). In our opinion, specific tools aren’t the issue, it’s how your remote teams follow through with Agile practices and principles which is the real key. In fact, we’ll go even further: with some remote teams we’ve even seen that over-focus on tools for teams just starting out can really cause issues and impede progress quite dramatically.

It’s keeping firm with your basic Agile principles which can be the critical element here: the tools are secondary.

Below are FOUR useful tips that will sort your tooling priorities out:

  • Adapt Agile to your reality (depending on the product type or organization type, for example), and worry less about the tools, at least when starting out (you can even go low-tech initially, using cards, whiteboards, and phones – with the option to upscale later in the process).
  • Make sure the tools you do implement remain simple and uncomplicated – but that also enable the full participation of your remote team in real-time.
  • Ensure your systems and infrastructure can fully support the tools you implement! It’s no good starting those sprints if your system just can’t handle it. And if problems arise with the tool you chose, make it a priority action to resolve.
  • Make sure the tools you choose are primarily chosen due to compatibility with your teams and system – and not because management wanted this or that tool on a whim.

How do I build trust and relationships with our remote teams?

Building trust and working on cultivating relationships is a hugely important element of any successful remote team implementation. People are people wherever they are in the world, but because of cultures and languages, it can be an issue to gel immediately into a productive, efficient remote Agile team.

From our experience, the real winner in building trust and harmonizing those relationships is investing in travel and becoming familiar with each culture in question – that initial investment can repay itself ten-fold.

However, with our many collaborations with companies located across Israel, we’ve also learnt that when starting out having your team on the same site is critical; in effect, having a remote team just 90 minutes away is almost the same as having them on a different floor in the same building. As many clients have discovered, one of our main advantages is actually cutting out those prohibitive-looking travel costs…

Another big factor in building up relationships is to start the project in the right way. From forming your team correctly, to establishing missions and goals together, and to establishing the Product Roadmap, setting off on the right foot is hugely important. And, of course, while starting correctly is BIG, don’t forget to follow those Agile principles, including the daily standups and demos.

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Hopefully this article and its predecessor have shown you how to get the best out of your remote Agile team. And as this is an ever-growing industry, we’re pretty sure there’ll be more to come on the blog, so watch out for more articles (plus additional industry-related posts from which your organization can only benefit)!

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