Virtually Agile: Doing Agile Projects with Virtual Teams
Agile methodologies emphasize frequent interactions among the team, product owner and stakeholders. The co-location of project teams greatly facilitates these kinds of interactions. But what do you do when teams are not co-located? What do you do when the product owner, team members, and stakeholders are spread across the globe? Should you fall back to Waterfall and not use Agile even if the project is a perfect fit for Agile? Or wait until you can buy Star Trek’s human transporter?
Don’t get disheartened. Rapid advancements in technology keep narrowing the gap, making the world smaller and smaller. Doing an agile project with remote teams will not be problematic if a Scrum Master or an Agile Coach knows how to use today’s high-tech methods and teach it to the team members, product owner, and stakeholders. A virtual daily scrum can be a reality, may be it is already a reality for some who are able to make it work. Scrum Masters and Agile coaches need to:
Create a virtual team room.
Technologies like SharePoint, Wiki, Google Docs and Office365 can be used to create the virtual team room. All documents and information radiators (such Kanban and burn down charts) can go on this virtual team room.
For all meetings (such as sprint planning, daily scrums and sprint retrospectives) use tools like GoTo Meeting or WebEx with Video.
If possible, do some or all sprint planning and sprint retrospective meetings face to face. You may decide to hold the face-to-face meetings at one place all the times where maximum team members are located.
Plan on going to almost every place where any team member is located.
The frequency and duration of your visit can be based on number of team members in that location. Visiting every site where a team member works is a good way to promote camaraderie and help ensure that no team member feels left out. Team members can be remote, but they should not feel remote. Site visits to every site will also help expose and resolve any issues facing each team member.
Use social media to improve interaction and team building among the team memers.
You can create your own group on LinkedIn so your project team members can share project and professional information. Encourage them to become friends on Facebook so they can learn something about each others’ personal lives too.
You can come up with your own methods and techniques to effectively run your Agile project with remote or virtual teams. It may be rough in the beginning, but it should get easier and easier as you master the game and also as new technologies evolve.
Are you still waiting for Star Trek’s human transporter to arrive?
If you’re interested in learning more about Agile, visit our Agile Transformationpage.