April 16, 2020

Agile and Scrum

Managing Remote Development Teams

The agile approach succeeds well when everyone working on the project is at the same location. As teams share the same space, colleagues can quickly ask and answer, partner up on assignments, and fix problems without planning sessions.

At the same time, the remote environment is the future. Distributed software development teams are experiencing robust growth. Companies get significant benefits by outsourcing the development of their software products. 

Access to global development talents and economies of scale are the two most significant advantages. More and more projects are executed by teams that work from different locations, through a distributed model. According to a recent study by Research and Markets, the global IT outsourcing market was estimated at $342.9 in 2020 and is expected to exceed $410 billion by 2027

Remote companies also strive to follow the agile model to better connect their distributed teams and complete tasks according to their schedule. Agile teams can produce many innovations, develop sophisticated apps, and succeed in fast-growing market settings. 

However, operating in a remote environment while maintaining an agile team brings a lot of challenges. Language barriers, cultural discrepancies, and time zone variations are only some of them.

Following agile methodologies, when you have remote teams, isn’t impossible. Team leaders must consider the best usage of technologies to maintain team efficiency, cooperation, and consistency.

What does an agile remote team look like? 

Dealing with agile and scrum methodologies in a remote environment starts by building an agile team. Agile teams organized independently and thus have a strong level of responsibility. 

The opportunity to decide about the next step of the product contributes to greater project participation. Members are dedicated to recognizing the client’s desires, empowered to produce goals on their own, and maintain project performance.

When it comes to agile teams, you should make sure you’re following the Agile Manifesto principles and the Scrum Guide. However, you should also be flexible and considerate of the needs of your employees

An agile team is always focused on creating a development process that provides value for its customers. Teams that are both remote and agile face many challenges, mostly related to communication, accountability, and transparency.

That’s why agile teams operating in a remote environment have to spare more time checking their members’ transparency. This is especially important in the beginning when people are getting used to this type of communication. 

Moreover, you should have regular exercises that can help you improve processes in your team. Ensure you use online notepads, project management tools like Trello and Asana, shared documents, and video call software for better connectivity. We love using Youtrack, a great project management tool for agile teams that gives us full control over our projects. 

How to successfully manage agile teams in a remote environment? 

Set up the structure

It’s not difficult to slip into a state of chaos when you work with remote teams. The Scrum framework provides guidelines that can help you create structured processes. 

It sets out some of the most important rules while leaves room for you to adapt them to your product. The precise definition of team principles and flow is essential for agile practices, such as the kanban concept-visualizing workflows.

To be more efficient, take some time to create the flow before each meeting. This way, you won’t waste time searching for the next topic you need to discuss. Next, you have to visualize the workflow of your tasks. You can use Jira to make this easier. 

Define each team member’s roles and make them publicly available so everyone can know what to expect from other team members. Don’t miss using agile practices like Definition of Done (DoD) and Definition of Ready (DoR)

Create a reliable environment

Trust building is key to successful teamwork. You need reliability both within the development team and between the business and development teams. Accountability among the tech and business side is crucial as everyone has to be on the same page. 

That’s why you need to provide feedback regularly. Moreover, you should decide on the interval your sprint retrospectives will occur and make sure every issue is communicated in between. 

Use communication tools like Slack to connect effectively. However, create some informal channels where you can talk about stuff that’s non-work related. 

Invest in effective deployment strategies 

Focus on technologies that emphasize greater individual attention and creativity, making team members more independent. For example, you could organize to work on small sprints where developers wouldn’t be interrupted too many times. 

Another thing that can improve your productivity is investing in a CI/CD automation process. Continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) include a set of practices and principles that allow developers to update code more regularly and consistently. This is also one of the best practices of the agile methodology, improving the quality of code, and allowing developers to meet customer demands more closely. 

Hold scrum meetings daily

A significant aspect of the agile practice is holding regular scrum sessions. The team sits together in these sessions for a brief amount of time to review the tasks completed during the previous day and discuss what has to be done during that day.

This way, the team is being updated directly on the day’s upcoming challenges. To hold productive scrum meetings, the project manager or the scrum master can use a project management tool. It’s essential that every team member and other stakeholders are aware of everything that’s going on in every sprint, especially the risks that come with the actions taken by the team.  

Becoming agile is the next big challenge

The next significant move for everyone following the agile principles is to apply agile to a remote world. It is now growing in several organizations worldwide, and it is a massive challenge for any team and company.

Agile teams have to understand the big picture of shifts that affect the way their company operates. The organizational concepts that guide everything from implementation and deployment speed to customer case studies now have to be examined from a different operational viewpoint.

Most importantly, a major aspect of being agile is understanding when and how to adjust and not only implementing agile methods.