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Keys to Making Agile Work for Your Remote Team – Part 3

Are you all set to get your remote software development team doing things the Agile way? If you’ve been following this series of blog posts, then you’ve got almost all the keys for ensuring success when shifting to Agile methodologies with your remote team. Here are the last few:

5. Stick to the basics

Agile has produced many “spin-offs” such as Agile-fall, Crystal, SCRUM, Pragmatic programming and more. These have given teams Agile options that truly suit them. Further customization is possible as well, and while a lot of teams prefer this, it is best reserved for experienced teams. For instance, rotating team members or giving part-time assignments to teams isn’t advisable when starting Agile. Research has shown that stable teams are 60% more productive and responsive to customer input than those that rotate team members.

When moving to Agile, make sure to do it right by sticking to its widely-used and proven methodologies before modifying or customizing it. When your team has mastered these basics, then they can be permitted to customize Agile specifically for their needs. These changes must of course be consistent with Agile principles, and tracked to show improved outcomes. To make tracking easier and more transparent with your remote team, you could opt for a visual progress tracking software.

6. Incorporate testing early

Testers have a pivotal role in Agile development teams. They’re not just there to issue a ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ grade at the end. They are full members of Agile teams, providing valuable information throughout the development cycle to help improve quality in every stage and outcome. As such, it is vitally important to incorporate them early. If you hire an offshore development team, you should make sure to include a tester, and have them work with your team from the beginning.

7. Avoid barriers to Agile behaviors

Research by the Scrum Alliance shows that over 70% of Agile practitioners report tension between teams and the rest of the organization. Some tension is to be expected, at least at the beginning, since Agile does entail a change in culture. But most of this tension is created and unnecessarily extended due to team members following different roadmaps.

To avoid this, make sure to:

  • Get everyone on the same page – Different teams may work on different parts of the project, but they should all work from the same list of priorities and goals. Make sure everyone is well aware of this and the current priority at every stage. Use regular Scrum standups to keep teams coordinated and communicating effectively, even if these have to be done virtually
  • Keep Scrum meetings effective – Speaking of daily Scrum meetings, make sure to keep these effective. Daily Scrum meetings are vital in keeping teams focused, energized, and coordinated, but only when they are done right. If they aren’t held consistently, go on for too long, or include unnecessary information, they quickly become ineffective. Make sure you have a Scrum Master who can oversee and ensure the effectiveness of these meetings.
  • Have a single owner for each decision – It must be crystal clear exactly who is responsible for each major decision made. There must be a single owner appointed for every innovation initiative. And while senior leaders can advise, assist, and guide, they should avoid second-guessing or overturning the owner’s decisions. 
  • Place more focus on teams, rather than individuals – The Agile method was built for teams and developing their collective intelligence. As such, more focus should be given on the team and their collective performance, rather than on individuals. Doing so can encourage your team to work better together. It is also easier to change your team’s collective intelligence and performance, as opposed to changing those of individual members.
  • Give your team the freedom to innovate – Leaders in Agile don’t tell their people how to do things. Instead, they tell their people what needs to be done, and guide their people with questions like, “what do you recommend?” This allows your team the freedom to innovate and find ingenious solutions, rather than having to follow directives they don’t always agree with.

Switching to Agile takes time and effort, and can be particularly challenging for remote teams, but the results of successfully implementing it are well worth it. Whether you hire an offshore development team or are working remotely due to current circumstances, successfully going Agile with a remote team is still feasible so long as you keep these things in mind.

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