Some notes about the “Agile Development & Remote Teams – Six Powerful Productivity Hacks You Should Know” article

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In the same way as the ‘An Appropriate Use of Metrics‘ and ‘Twenty Top Fails in Executive Agile Leadership’ articles, I propose here some extracts from an article published on the InfoQ website: Agile Development & Remote Teams – Six Powerful Productivity Hacks You Should Know.

Key Takeaways

  • Remote teams should focus on automation that actually makes sense. Forgo unnecessary Agile tools and processes, and focus on a few but most effective ones
  • Keep the Agile process simple
  • Agile is all about quick execution and quick releases. There is no scope of perfection. What you do daily defines what you will deliver
  • The sprints should be short and realistic
  • Execute, but measure what you execute

With organizations around the globe trying to go lean, there is a definite rise in distributed and agile work environments today. However, Agile development and remote teams sometimes have friction and fall into different sorts of challenges such as:

  • Building rapport with team members
  • Coordinating across time zones
  • Scheduling meetings when both teams are online together only for a short duration
  • Collaboration among different development cultures

6 productivity hacks for distributed agile teams

1. Automation that makes sense

  • Continuous review of process is a key to achieving productivity at the workplace
  • Invest in one umbrella application that eliminates the need to use different applications for different processes, so as to ensure faster and more effective ways of carrying out tasks by ensuring there is no duplication of processes
  • Creating a culture with continuous integration is especially valuable on projects with extended timelines or when managing remote teams
  • Automation saves the day in a number of ways: it fast tracks the whole delivery and reporting process, gifts the ones participating with a sense of responsibility, and it’s 100% achievable, all thanks to the latest tech advancements.

=> Jira (reporting and planning) and Confluence (documentation) are top-notch software, used by number of big companies. See how Audi uses them.

Atlassian Jira software

Jira Software – screenshot

Other relevant tools for remote teams:

Slack software

Slack software – screenshot

2. Simplicity in the Agile process – Spend time on actual work

  • For remote teams, for instance, distance can become a reason to stay the course and avoid evolving the solution when challenges or barriers arise.
  • Setting a schedule, weekly or daily will help keep your team accountable for the work they have been assigned. Ensure that team members are as much a part of the decision making as they are for the implementation of that decision.
  • Make sure you organize meetings at a time that is conducive to corresponding time zones and optimize duration by monitoring employee engagement throughout.
  • Keep track of how these meetings affect productivity and reduce or increase frequency accordingly.
  • Once the project comes to an end, make sure the end result is shared across teams, and each team’s involvement is highlighted.

3. The power of daily – build a ritual that becomes a habit

  • Agile is all about quick execution and quick releases.
  • What you do daily defines what you will deliver.
  • Accomplishing daily targets or mini-deliverables is a huge motivational boost for the team, and creates a perception of reaching closer to the ultimate goal.

4. It’s all about the sprints

  • Short and sweet is the name of the game, so keeping sprints short will lead to better productivity and allow the team to be able to do quick releases.
  • Planning is more realistic because of shorter sprints because then it is based on current stats.

5. Build a solid project roadmap that connects

  • You need to get a project roadmap in place because this is the plan of action that will communicate to your agile team – no matter where they are based – how a product or solution will evolve over time.
  • Distributed teams mean different timeframes, which makes planning a challenge as you can’t have the same level of detail as you would with a team that’s right next to you.
  • An approach such as the rolling wave planning may work better in such cases, wherein you plan things that are near in time to you in detail and things that are distant in time at a higher level.
  • All you need to do is to break it down into months, weeks and days.

6. Measure. Change. Release

Don’t just deploy, measure.

Build next roadmap based on data and measured metrics.

For Agile and Lean processes, the basic metrics are lead time, cycle time, team velocity, and open/close rates. These metrics aid planning and help make informed decisions about process improvement.

Whenever any of these metrics are not in the range you expected or are trending in alarming directions, do not assume a cause: involve your team, get it out in the open, and take a joint decision on addressing the issue.

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