How Distributed Agile Teams Work

14 September 2022

Liubomyr Sirskyi

Content Manager

Many software development teams commonly use a distributed approach and agile methodologies to develop digital products. Although both concepts are well-known separately, the сombined “distributed agile” term is a new concept for the entire industry. 

While agile solutions point out in-house collaboration, the remote squad can work together despite the geographical dispersion of team members. Therefore, it is challenging to implement agile methodologies in a remote team. But you can solve these issues with suitable processes. Let’s review how distributed agile teams can use agile methods effectively. 

The Distributed Agile Team Concept

A distributed agile squad means the team with members are permanently separated and practising an agile methodology to perform tasks. Therefore, no office to gather developers and a coordinated approach to the entire project.  

But how to distinguish a distributed agile model from a regular one? An answer is an approach to work. A geographically dispersed squad takes a flexible approach to performing tasks and clear advantages of such a process (e.g., saving resources and high mobility).

Challenges of Managing a Geographically Dispersed Team

When you divide your dedicated team into distributed ones, you can face some challenges:

  • Employees will interact less often.
  • Some team members can lag behind on performing tasks without careful monitoring.
  • Your corporate culture and atmosphere could disappear.

Solving these issues relies on how you organise the teamwork. But now, let’s look at the advantages of the distributed agile development team.

Benefits of Managing a Distributed Agile Team

Even when your employees are geographically dispersed, they still can enjoy some advantages of such an approach. And the more team members you have in the dedicated team, the more noticeable the impact.

  • A calm environment has a positive effect on the creativity of the entire squad.
  • Employees have a chance to focus more on the work tasks.
  • Creating a family atmosphere includes your team members working with a certain zeal.

There are also some advantages for companies (for example, cutting the office rental cost). All of them are beneficial for improving working conditions inside the team. 

Seven ways to manage your distributed agile team effectively

The distributed agile approach may provide some advantages and also limit team interactions. But more and more people are interested in remote work, so businesses should learn more about the agile methods to improve productivity and reduce the time loss. Here are seven approaches to building first-class teamwork. 

Provide proper project status visibility 

When you have decided to organise agile teamwork, you should ensure each squad member can check the project status. The project needs constantly develop when talking about the agile way to organise work, so you cannot sacrifice the status visibility.

When preparing the new sprint cycle, every project manager of a distributed agile software development team squad has to check that project status reports are clear and regularly uploaded. It allows to clearly define the backlog and determine the current state of the development cycle. This approach is vital because PMs usually have trouble bringing out the project status. 

Implementing digital tools (Jira, Asana, Wrike, etc.) will help you monitor the development progress and guarantee the proper status visibility.

Assess your squad’s performance

When talking about the geographically dispersed agile team, productivity matters a lot. You have to estimate it to analyse an entire picture of each employee’s performance and what can be improved. The following metrics may help you in this case:

  • Velocity: This rate involves the average amount of story points* your employees delivered over the last sprints. Moreover, the velocity report shows the number of story points in the following sprint cycles.
  • Sprint Burndown: This chart visually shows the squad’s progress in story points. It is a graphical representation of how much work has already been done and remains to be done. Therefore, you can check the project status quickly.
  • Cumulative Flow Diagram (CFD): It shows progress for a software, version, or sprint. The CFD also helps you determine past and present problems and understand how to turn the work process into a more predictable event.

*Story points estimate the effort required to perform an element of software or any other piece of work. Using story points, we assign a quantitative value to each work element. These estimates are irrelevant in themselves. All that matters is how the various component estimates relate to each other.

Implement instruments that improve interaction and collaboration

If you properly instil the agile values in your distributed employees, you will surely achieve all your goals. These teams must collaborate worldwide when everyone’s effort affects the result.

Moreover, every distributed agile development team have to adapt to changes quickly, and effective communication is vital. Many mobile apps and online instruments help you organise daily scrums, planning sessions, and sprints properly. The following tools are widespread:

  • Zoom;
  • Microsoft Teams;
  • Google Meet;
  • Slack, and others. 

These instruments help your geographically dispersed agile team keep interacting and working together.

A calm environment is vital for quality development, so employees can focus on performing tasks and increase the squad’s productivity. Learn more about tips to avoid tension at work and reduce stress here

Distributing workload

Software development is chaos, but you can make it highly ordered and structured. You need to delegate tasks to different groups of employees based on their location. 

Hiring a dedicated team provides full-cycle development when you are fully remote. All agile squad employees will focus on your project solely (e.g., the project planning, strategy, and task execution). 

Moreover, you have to distribute the product backlog evenly among the distributed agile team. An uneven workload can lead to problems in your distributed agile squad, from delays in software delivery to frustrated human resources. Thus, remember to show your employees respect. 

Monitor the code quality

Sometimes, it is hard to assess the code quality. Some vital elements (like the unit test status and build stability) may remain unknown to the team leaders until employees communicate on this topic. If teams do not validate that the build is stable, it will harm the project’s health. 

For instance, the Chicago team found a piece of code with bugs and ended the workday without noticing other squads. It will stop the team’s workflow in other locations (London, Warsaw, Kyiv, etc.) 

Thus, you should monitor code stability, and the best practices for effective distributed agile development may help you:

  1. Use advanced continuous integration (CI) tools (Bitbucket Pipelines, Jenkins, AWS CodePipeline, etc.). 
  2. Implement the Pair Programming approach to help developers enhance the code quality and boost the task execution. 
  3. Ensure your QA/QC employees are active and provide reports regularly.

These activities may allow you to improve your project’s code constantly. 

Instilling an agility

Agility is the work style, so you have to nurture agile between distributed locations constantly. All products have unique tasks that can be executed using a specific approach, so your employees should adapt to frequent changes during the development cycle. Therefore, companies look for experienced project managers or scrum masters. 

You can also build an agile environment by collaborating with external distributed teams that work on other projects. It provides a great source of knowledge and may help your employees learn how to implement an agile approach to their performance. 

Hiring the dedicated team

Collaborating with a geographically dispersed team is a great way to get functional software and save resources. However, you have to organise the entire process by yourself, spending much time and money on hiring specialists, agile product management, constant training, etc. But even then, no one guarantees that you will gather the best specialists. 

Hiring a dedicated team makes it straightforward to manage your resources. A custom software development company will assign a particular squad to your project. All members are 100% focused on specific tasks with no distraction to other projects. Thus, the customer company only has to monitor the project progress and assign tasks.

Conclusion

We can see the rising number of distributed agile teams in the global IT market, ​​so they decide the entire industry’s future. But there is no ideal methodology for every squad. Some can implement Scrum, while others choose Kanban or Lean Development. Therefore, each company have to find the best-matching method to build a highly productive and efficient distributed agile team. At Rocketech, we implement advanced approaches to organise the work of our dedicated teams. Every client can benefit from top-notch software created by experienced developers. If you want to get a remarkable and marketable product, check out our services and contact us!

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