Saturday, January 25, 2014

Distributed teams: making it work

Agile software development places a heavy emphasis on face-to-face communication that requires colocation of the team. Colocation is a requirement for many popular Agile framework implementations, and agile transitions often start with moving all members of the team to the same space.

However, many teams do not have the luxury of working in the same zip code.    Interestingly, Agile frameworks, sans the colocation requirement, are very helpful in getting distributed teams to perform at their best.  Agile emphasis on continuous communication, self-organization, and frequent introspection dovetails perfectly with the distributed team’s organizational requirements. 

There is a caveat that distributed teams do worse with ScrumBut and other fractional implementations, than collocated teams.  It is very important that both the team and the rest of the organization are motivated, and support the Agile framework a distributed team has picked.  Detailed adherence to the letter of the framework, deep understanding of the philosophy of Agile software development, and willingness to experiment within the constraints of the system to find the best approach for the team are all necessary to achieve top team performance.

Distributed teams can deliver great performance at a fraction of the cost – when they are organized and motivated.  Agile frameworks are excellent tools to manage software development in a distributed environment.  However, it takes a lot of motivation, hard work, and there is little room for error or fractional implementations.

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