How We Run As Client’s Extended Distributed Teams Using Agile Techniques

extended distributed teams using agile techniques itechnolabs

If you are using or wish to use Agile Techniques, you are probably aware of its multifaceted benefitsf. But have you considered some of its drawbacks? Even though 85% of projects globally have used the agile methodology in the past few years, they have all experienced the challenges of communicating their agile processes to the clients.

As per the reports, 56% of businesses across the world outsource their app development rather than having employees of their own countries, due to lower cost of development. By outsourcing, companies are able to focus more on their core business thereby providing more quality service.

In this article, we will look into what are some of the problems associated with distributed agile development and how one can work around those roadblocks successfully by employing the best agile techniques. Before we dive into that, let us first know what is meant by a distributed agile system.

What is a Distributed Agile System?

what is a distributed agile system itechnolabs

A distributed agile delivery model focuses on multi-shore project delivery. It enables the distributed and dispersed teams to garner successful business value.

  • Distributed agile development is an outsourcing partnership where two more teams work together on a project. The teams are geographically separate and communication is the key factor in their success.
  • The primary backbone of distributed agile systems is digital technology using which the dispersed teams can have seamless interaction and complete the project on time.
  • The teams collaborate within the defined set of tools, rituals, and roles as prescribed by agile techniques.
  • The benefit of a distributed agile team is a broader pool of talent available for the project which increases the overall skill set of the team.
  • With distributed agile projects teams work in different time zones thus work is carried on 24-hours a day.

Reasons for Having Distributed Agile Model For App Development

reasons for having distributed agile model for app development itechnolabs

One of the successful applications of outsourced app development is WhatsApp. There are a number of reasons that drive organizations to invest in outsourcing their development work. The main reasons for agile development outsourcing are: 

  • The cost of hiring developers from a different country is much cheaper than having employers from their own nation.
  • There is a scarcity of talent on the required skill set in their company or country.
  • Your in-house team can concentrate on other core projects which are crucial to the business while the background work can be done by outsourced teams. This also results in increased efficiency and better productivity of the in-house team.

Related Article: How to Hire an Agile Software Development Team From iTechnolabs

Challenges of a Distributed Agile Development Team

challenges of a distributed agile development team itechnolabs

Several challenges can crop up in distributed teams that follow agile techniques. One of the significant challenges is that all the teams do not share the common “big picture” of the project. The table below sums up some of the prominent challenges of distributed agile systems:

Organization Process Tools
The team is spread over different physical locations. Misalignment of solutions between the teams. Different DevOps tools are being used by different teams.
Different time zones and working hours. Misalignments of timelines across scrum teams. Problems with some tools not being able to scale well with a growing team.
Teams in different countries have different holidays. Issues in integrating Agile with the Waterfall model. Performance of the offshore system.
Cultural differences between teams. Misalignment in tracking status. Poor technologies used for collaboration,

The Right Approach to Distributed Agile Development

right approach to distributed agile development itechnolabs

The biggest issue in distributed agile development is the expectation of the client on how agile should work and the way agile actually works. Though some clients are already familiar with the intricacies of agile techniques, for those whose early experiences have been a waterfall model gauging the merits of the agile method can be difficult.

To overcome this lack of knowledge and bridge the gap, the first order of business while kicking off a new agile project would be to assess how much is your client aware of the agile system. You must show the client how to work with you in an agile environment.

Some of the best practices that we incorporate in distributed agile development fit both small and large-scale businesses. 

  • A hybrid approach – One of the most important parts of our agile strategy is to have a project manager, an architect, and other team leads either local to the client or onsite. This greatly reduces the risk of any sort of misunderstanding cropping between teams. It also gives the stakeholders the convenience of having local contacts coupled with a lower cost of resources.
  • Video call with the remote team during scrum meet – The daily agile scrum is usually a face-to-face meeting of the scrum team for 15 minutes where you update about the work you are doing currently. With teams spread in different timezones, it is nearly impossible to follow the exact process. So we fix a time that is convenient for all the teams for a video call meeting. This ensures that the essence of agile methodology is kept intact. We use screen sharing where the scrum master would run the team through sprint backlogs. By using tools like Jira or Trello, all the team members get a chance to let everyone know in which direction the project is headed. A face-to-face meeting is crucial in building trust amongst all the members of the agile team.
  • Access to a task tracking platform – If all the team members can access a common task tracking system and update it, it gives a clear picture to all about everyone’s progress. A communication platform like Slack or Skype would further boost communication where teams can clarify their doubts and share updates between two scrum periods.
  • Scrum of scrums – An approach where every scrum has a scrum master ensures that the project work is managed better. In this approach, all the individual teams have their own scrum master and product owner. During scrum of scrums all team members answer the following questions:
    • What work has been completed since the last scrum of scrums?
    • What work will the team member accomplish until the next scrum of scrums?
    • Blockers faced by a member for finishing their current job.

Such a method allows all the main individuals to directly interact with each other right from the time of initiation of the project till its launch time.

  • Assignment of work on skills and not location – We keep the overall release goals while allocating work. Work assigned should complement the skill set of an individual and not his/her location. At the same time, we ensure that each team member is completely responsible for one whole feature or component of the project, so every member feels ownership for the project’s success, regardless of their location.
  • Have a set of common engineering and development best practices – The team should agree upon a common set of best practices and standards to follow till the completion of the project. These best practices apply to coding standards, development procedures, patterns, styles, and other developmental practices that ensure a quality product.
  • Respect cultural differences and time zones – Due to the team being spread across the globe with different time zones, people will have to compromise to be present for daily stand-ups and other important team meetings. It is best to keep the timings as consistent as possible so that people can enjoy their family obligations and other commitments not related to work. Since geographically separated teams also have different kinds of festivals and holidays, it is important that the team respects this fact. It is not necessary that all team members need to follow the holiday schedule of the primary office or corporate headquarters.
  • Use online tools for arranging agile artifacts – To keep the distributed team engaged and informed, it is vital to have online tools like SharePoint that can maintain common productivity apps like excel, OneNote. These tools are used to create and manage product backlogs, manage task boards, plan sprints, track bugs, monitor burndowns, and other related work items. 
  • Frequent demos – When teams build working prototypes of the development work that they are doing and showcase it to other distributed teams and stakeholders, on a regular basis, it helps in building confidence and trust. Having live demos in sprint reviews, frequent code reviews with subject matter experts, and other project protocols enhance the team spirit and quality of the product.
  • Documentation – Written forms of communication are an integral part of a successful agile practice. Meetings notes, design documents, etc. are some of the ways to ensure that intent is clear to all parties involved. Written communication also ensures that whatever decisions are being taken are clear and not forgotten. It is essential to establish best documentation practices when teams are distributed as they can prevent missteps and delays while implementing. There are several companies who are offering Software Development Services, but they must follow top 8 reasons to trust our agile mobile app development process

Some Important Facts That All Distributed Agile Techniques Development Teams Should Keep in Mind

some important facts that all distributed agile development teams itechnolabs

  • Build a Culture Not Process – A successful Agile project is based on how the distributed team is able to work together, how well aligned they are with the product visions, and how much sense of ownership do they have. All these factors matter more than skill sets.
  • Set SMART goals – For a distributed team that spans countries, it is essential that you set goals following the SMART (S – Specific, M – measurable, A – achievable, R – realistic, and T – time-framed) concept completely.
  • Version control system – Within distributed teams, it is often observed that collective code ownership is lacking. To work around this issue a version control system like perforce or VSS (Visual source safe) should be in place to track all the changes made to the code so that there is complete honesty and transparency.
  • Work closely with client’s team in initial days – Since teams in distributed agile come from different countries having different cultural backgrounds, it helps a lot if the outsourced team works very closely with the client’s team in the initial days. This way the teams are able to understand each other better.

Do You Want to Hire Offshore Developers From iTechnolabs?

do you want to hire offshore developers from itechnolabs

Wrapping Up

A global organization that has multiple offices in different countries is bound to work in distributed agile methodology. For a successful project, teams must adopt certain principles for communication, sharing work, and maintaining a successful culture all through the distributed teams. This can be achieved by following some of the suggestions mentioned in this article where collaboration tools and documentation play key roles in bringing harmony and transparency between teams.

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