Simple Ways to Manage Distributed Agile Teams

As the organization grows, it is important to divide the teams in terms of features, locations, shifts and so on. This helps to utilize the tools and resources effectively. So the communication and synchronization of all the teams is important for maintaining the coordination of work. Here the team members need to be educated for handling their responsibilities with proper mode of communication.

Having distributed teams helps to reduce costs, reach markets quickly and also allows to expand their market access to the wider range. This supports to experiment with innovation and thought leadership. Teams need to work under same principles and they have to be aware of the complete information about their developing product. Thus for managing distributed teams it requires a clear and proper mode of communication.

The distributed teams comes across few complexity due to different time zones, language and culture barriers. The important practices which helps to face the problems of distributed Agile teams are:


Efficient techniques to handle distributed agile teams are

Optimizing Teams- Dividing teams in terms of a function or location, often fails due to lack of complete support to teams. Thus, effective distribution of process, task and development work to all the teams should be done appropriately. So that teams can afford to finish the tasks assigned to them in a planned time limit.

Proper Work Segregation for Team's - Work has to be distributed in terms of skills, capabilities and iteration objectives. It is necessary to make sure that all team members are aware about their role and responsibilities. The workload of team members need to be equally distributed. An uneven distribution of workload results in imbalancing and postponing of release schedule.

Allocation of Team Lead - Teams in remote location should consists of a team lead who guides their work in proper way. So it helps the team members to get complete support and directions through face-to-face interactions. It also helps to have a streamlined communication with other teams.

Supporting Pair Programming - Although it is difficult to adopt the side-by-side part of sitting and working together, the team members can interact together by communicating virtually through Skype or other video calling tools. This helps the team to collaborate in technical issues and approach effectively, thus enhances the team coordination.

Following Standards - It is significant to stick to the practices and standards which they have adapted for developing a product. Thus it will be easy to maintain a proper flow of work with all teams and helps to maintain the quality of work.

Respect Time Zone - When teams are expanded and working in various time zones, it is necessary for all team members to have an understanding for maintaining the consistency in their schedule. Thus it helps the teams to follow particular timings by overlapping office hours for all team meetings and daily standups.

Value Cultural Difference - As the team members are from various cultural backgrounds, it is prominent to respect each other's holiday. So it will be easy for the team members to cooperate for following their leave schedule and thus supports the team to carry out their work easily without any delay.

Effective Use of Online Tools - The proper usage of online tools helps to connect and organize distributed teams. There are so many online tools which assists to create and maintain product backlogs, managing task boards, organizing and planning iterations, tracking bugs and other work items. Leankit is one of the online tools which helps in maintaining the stories for developing product.

Adapt Easy Communication Method - During team meetings and daily standups, it is necessary to have video call and desktop sharing. Thus, it allows the teams to clarify the issues and sync with their work in real time. The team members should update their comments in the online tools frequently.

Organize Face-to-Face Interaction - It is essential for all the teams to know each other individually, so that it aids in maintaining a bonding and healthy relationship in workplace. So arranging one to one meeting with persons at least once in a year is necessary. In meetings always have a practice of communicating through video call, thus it results in more effective communication.

Deliver Quality - When all the teams are aware about their shared goals, then it is easy to set milestones for each iterations and can work accordingly. During iteration planning the team should go through all the goals and check whether they are maintained properly. The Product Owner should have some checkpoints to the work flow and thus aids team in delivering high quality of product.

Decent Onboarding and Training - It is fundamental to provide complete training and knowledge about the product for the new team members. So it helps in proper utilization of all tools and other resources. The distributed teams also need constant mentoring and guidance from other experienced team members to complete their work efficiently.

Documenting Work Progress - The project documents and written communication plays a vital role in maintaining the team coordination. It helps to get clear information about the work need to be done and also allows to track the status of delivering product. By documenting all the steps of action, the work can be carried out without any delay and supports to overcome any missteps.

Practicing Constant Demos and Retrospectives - The distributed team members should share progress and also demo their part of work on regular basis. It helps to enhance the trust and confidence with the teams and with the stakeholders. Distributed teams should communicate their blockages to other teams for finding solutions and get support.

The managing of distributed teams is not an easy task, but it can be achieved with these simple steps. By having consistent communication, proper tools usage and following all the protocols, it will be easy for managing all the distributed teams effectively.

P.S. Join us for our webinar session Let's Go SAFe 4.0 with Dean Leffingwell, Co-founder and Chief Methodologist, Scaled Agile Inc., and Siraj Sirajuddin, Founder, Temenos+Agility, and find out what’s new in SAFe 4.0!


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