Agile development is clearly a growing trend. It’s positive impact on time to market and customer satisfaction make no doubt. However, involving off/near shore teams is a challenge. Some key success factors of effective agile developments are:
- Frequent interactions between team members
- High visibility of the tasks to complete (by using Kanban for example)
- Simplified process allowing frequent deliveries
The question is : “How can I apply these KSF with my distant teams?”
Here are some ideas I tested with my own teams or shared by scrum masters I worked with:
- Identify the agility awareness of the offshore team: Do they know the main principles? Are they willing to change their way of working? If not, you can start with trainings.
- Identify your current communication means: calls/videos/e-mails? If your team members are mostly communicating using e-mails, then you should try to have people talking together.An introduction of each team member during a video conference could be a good start.An event during which team members would meet each other would be even better, and a good investment for the future: people tend to collaborate more if they know the recipients of their e-mails/calls.
- Identify the tools you can use to increase communication and visibility of the tasks: JIRA + Greenhopper can definitely help. But if you’re creative you can also find easy solutions: both teams may have their Kanban and send a daily picture of the current situation.
- Optimize your processes to increase time to market and make sure all teams are aware of the expectations and dependencies on each side.
- Ensure difficulties/blocking points of each team can be identified and shared to find global solutions. Retrospectives are helpful and should be conducted wherever you are located. Any issue slowing the deployment process down should be addressed with high priority.
But don’t forget that each Agile team has to find the solutions best suited to its way of working. So my main advice would be to address this point during retrospectives and help the team proposing its own solutions. The acceptance and commitment will be much higher.