Cognizant Business Consulting

Top 10 challenges faced by distributed
Agile teams and Viable solutions

Dec 2013
Naresh A,...
Speaker

Naresh A
• Education
o Certified Scrum Master, Scrum Alliance
o Trained SAFe Agilist

• Current Role:
o Principal...
Distributed teams
Definition – Teams that have something preventing
them from collaborating ‘in person and face to face’
C...
Collocated teams
This is what we are missing
in a distributed team
scenario...

Illustration courtesy: from Erran carmel b...
1. Quality of collaboration suffers
Teams’ communication
Bandwidth
Distributed Agile teams
• Inability to self-organize
• ...
1. Enabling high level of collaboration
Building trust within distributed teams
• Travels during release planning, for cou...
2. Delay in getting things done
• Increase in hand-offs, documentations leads to non- value adding items
• ‘Tracking syndr...
2. Employ some lean concepts
Focus on your value stream • Study bottlenecks/ constrains through value stream mapping exerc...
3. Difficulty in managing global teams
Illustration courtesy by Matt’s blog on

How is wordpress.com made?

Culture of ope...
3. Enterprise lessons from open source communities
Plan
A or B ?

Let us go
with ‘B’

Illustration courtesy, Eric Ries aut...
4. Challenges with adopting technology enabler
• Additional time spent on learning new tools and techniques
• Users being ...
4. Understanding the technology needs

What works -

• Provide choices on technology enabler for given purpose
• Enable us...
5. Inefficiencies with team distribution structures
• Distributed without sufficient justification
-

Traditional working ...
5. Effective team formation
Standing team
Project B
Project A

Project C

Projects /Requests

Team ramp-up
What works • Di...
5. Effective team structures
Service Team B

Feature
Team A

Feature
Team B
Service Team A

Feature
Team C

What works • K...
6. Unproductive team behavior
• ‘Surface’ Vs ‘work centric’ sub-groups
- Regional, need based sub-groups
- Impacts teams’ ...
7. Agile transformation with ‘global’ IT shops
Team which drives ‘global’ transformation face
challenges with
• Consistenc...
8. Coaching hurdles with distributed teams
• Tendency to reverse to sequential approach
– Waterfall styled project plans, ...
9. Risk of global business teams being left out
• Business are more distributed than than IT people
• Business teams not b...
10.Time zone differences
• Team working hours
- Truncated time window to
collaborate

Illustration courtesy : Robert Maksi...
Summary
1.

Building trust within distributed teams and Collaboration using digital
tools

2.

Study bottlenecks/ constrai...
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ATC2013-Naresh Arumugam- Top 10 challenges with distributed teams and viable solutions-final

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  • Ability to self organize – Stop managing
  • Ability to self organize – Stop managingCollaboration tool- Electronic task board, WebEx, WebcamsMinimize Apps team being distributedTeam rooms modified to suit collaborative way of working Different approach to Agile practice adoptionKey stakeholders like PO, Architects travel across locations
  • There are four main concepts in “one piece flow.” Each story is done as if it was the only thing in the releaseEach aspect of developing a user story happens in rapid succession,There is as much done in parallel as possibleEach team member focuses on a single user story at a timespecifying (S), designing (D), coding (C), writing of tests (W), integrating (I), and testing (T)
  • Open source communitiesVoluntary - Communities of like minded individualsBeing accountable - Earn trust by having something to show for your work each week, no boss, culture of learning by doingCollaboration little hierarchies, choose what suits you, Skype, yammer, word pressAutomation - If it's a process, automate as much as possibleCommunity contributions - Mostly contributions are code, Find and be with like minded peopleShared responsibility - small groups of highly talented people can outperform the largest teamsSome challenges can be rectified, while some can be looked upon as opportunityVery low email usage, little to no documentationAs open source teams, organization does not encourage a deep democratic set-up, Liberty to participate, however if the WS then you other will take over your tasks, collaborate with any tools you want not constrained by enterprise requirements, Misnomer – open source teams are large, no small but talented pool,learning by doing – Cross functional
  • Keep a good part of the team co-located
  • Dennytinchers and bean counter
  • Send senior folks
  • Draw a line – when your organization does this your not in the competition, you are way aboveFactory model - Teams with very similar skills
  • Draw a line – when your organization does this your not in the competition, you are way aboveFactory model - Teams with very similar skills
  • MVP – Training modules, what ever the culture can observeOnly 5% of work force understand what startegy ishttp://www.slideshare.net/davidmottershead/part-1-agile-organisations-business-and-process-transformation-event-measuring-managing-and-improving-business-agility
  • Inflow suffers, Help PO to communicate the change else he will be working between these 2 organization, Orgn where business has pushed into Agile are more successful.
  • Avoid team distraction during working hours
  • ATC2013-Naresh Arumugam- Top 10 challenges with distributed teams and viable solutions-final

    1. 1. Cognizant Business Consulting Top 10 challenges faced by distributed Agile teams and Viable solutions Dec 2013 Naresh A, Principle Agile Consultant & Coach naresh.arumugam@cognizant.com Cognizant Process & Quality Consulting Group (CBC-PQC)
    2. 2. Speaker Naresh A • Education o Certified Scrum Master, Scrum Alliance o Trained SAFe Agilist • Current Role: o Principal Agile Consultant & Coach • Organization: o Cognizant Technology Solutions • My Activities: o Coaching teams to adopt Agile principles and values o Help client organisations to Scale Agile o Conducting Agile simulations sessions o Building Agile consulting capabilities at Cognizant 2 ©2013, Cognizant
    3. 3. Distributed teams Definition – Teams that have something preventing them from collaborating ‘in person and face to face’ Common reasons – • • • • • Globally business operation Economies of scale Availability of skilled people Localized vendor Mergers & Acquisitions Source: Definition by Tim wise written on topic Enabling distributed Agile teams from leading Agile.com 3 ©2013, Cognizant
    4. 4. Collocated teams This is what we are missing in a distributed team scenario... Illustration courtesy: from Erran carmel blog on Brazilian agile way / Illustration courtesy: Common-tech.com, new on An Agile Workspace 4 ©2013, Cognizant Illustration courtesy: blogs.msdn.com
    5. 5. 1. Quality of collaboration suffers Teams’ communication Bandwidth Distributed Agile teams • Inability to self-organize • Difficulty in building trust • Spending more time in emails, chats, docs • Difficulty in “show and tell” • Investments in acquiring & maintaining tools & devices Email Readily available Messenger Desk phone High quality audio device Scarce Screen sharing, WebEx, LM Individual web cams, VCs High quality VCs, electronic WB Co-located Agile teams 5 ©2013, Cognizant Face to Face, Interactive white board & Post-its LM – Live Meeting, VC – Video Conferencing, WB – White Board
    6. 6. 1. Enabling high level of collaboration Building trust within distributed teams • Travels during release planning, for couple of iterations • Through early progress in terms of working software Collaboration using digital tools • High resolutions personal Web cam, • VC with wide angle cameras • Virtual teams room/office (Sococo) Team building activities • Working agreement • Team building exercises/ social activities • Leadership workshop for management Sococo : Product which creates a virtual team room / Office 6 ©2013, Cognizant
    7. 7. 2. Delay in getting things done • Increase in hand-offs, documentations leads to non- value adding items • ‘Tracking syndrome’ - defects, tasks, issues tracking increases • Additional management overhead • Increase in waiting time and bottlenecks, reduces agility • Time To Market (TTM) and feedback cycle time suffers www.crisp.se/file-uploads/Kanban-vs-Scrum.pdf 7 ©2013, Cognizant www.crisp.se/file-uploads/Kanban-vs-Scrum.pdf
    8. 8. 2. Employ some lean concepts Focus on your value stream • Study bottlenecks/ constrains through value stream mapping exercise • Exercise ‘one-piece flow’ of backlog items within your iterations • Deploy collaboration platform, eg: collaborating at user story level “Focus on delivering working software early & often” Illustration courtesy: Henrik Kniberg & Mattias skarin blog on Kanban vs scrum how to make best of both specifying (S), designing (D), coding (C), writing of tests (W), integrating (I), and testing (T) Illustration courtesy by Damon Poole blog, Do it yourself agile 8 ©2013, Cognizant
    9. 9. 3. Difficulty in managing global teams Illustration courtesy by Matt’s blog on How is wordpress.com made? Culture of open source Vs large IT enterprises/ captives At Work, culture is all about how You Work Self-Organize Being Told Being Accountable Low trust Collaboration Siloes Automation Managing Work Shared Responsibility Manual Managing Person Individual Responsibility Most IT enterprises tend toward Right 9 ©2013, Cognizant References: 7 Signs of Great Open Source Organization Culture by Michael Cannon
    10. 10. 3. Enterprise lessons from open source communities Plan A or B ? Let us go with ‘B’ Illustration courtesy, Eric Ries author of Principles of lean start-up - http://lean.st/ What works • Keep enterprise as slices of lean units, like start-ups • Empower to make more local decisions within their boundaries • Provide versatile technology platforms instead of specifying framework & tools 10 ©2013, Cognizant
    11. 11. 4. Challenges with adopting technology enabler • Additional time spent on learning new tools and techniques • Users being left with little options (but to adopt a given tool or a platform) • Decisions being made by small groups ( Enterprise level – build or purchase) • Challenges related to acceptance from users on new platforms and tools 11 ©2013, Cognizant
    12. 12. 4. Understanding the technology needs What works - • Provide choices on technology enabler for given purpose • Enable users to adopt in addition to selling the tools to executives • Train using real time scenarios • Establish forums to share tips and best practices 12 ©2013, Cognizant
    13. 13. 5. Inefficiencies with team distribution structures • Distributed without sufficient justification - Traditional working model, power center • Isolated teams - Development by a vendor and testing by a different vendor - Skill streams – HTML team, JavaScript teams, DB teams • Onshore-offshore teams / near shore - Parent – child locations • Changing/ Disturbing team setup - Disrupting teams with project or releases boundaries - 13 Sharing team members with other teams ©2013, Cognizant
    14. 14. 5. Effective team formation Standing team Project B Project A Project C Projects /Requests Team ramp-up What works • Distributed Agile works well with standing teams • Team dispersion at the end of project need to be carefully considered • Established, cross functional teams 14 ©2013, Cognizant
    15. 15. 5. Effective team structures Service Team B Feature Team A Feature Team B Service Team A Feature Team C What works • Keep your ‘feature’ teams close to business stakeholders (closer time zones) • While ‘feature’ teams run on iteration, ‘Service ‘teams can adopt Kanban • Team Optimization - Highly skilled small teams Vs large teams What didn’t work • Keeping locations ‘role centric’ ex : Business Analyst team • Architecture centric teams ex: Presentation, Business layer, Data Base teams 15 ©2013, Cognizant
    16. 16. 6. Unproductive team behavior • ‘Surface’ Vs ‘work centric’ sub-groups - Regional, need based sub-groups - Impacts teams’ cross functional ability • Power or Knowledge centers - Regional decision making, no collective decisions - Us Vs Them • Uncertainty avoidance Vs Risk taking ability - Detailed planning work, upfront documentation What works• Cross-cultural teams with work centric sub groups • Seeding experts within new learning teams and locations • Senior members being distributed, travel (2 - 4 weeks) • Building trust – Better communication 16 ©2013, Cognizant Illustration courtesy: Phil Mickinney’s blog doyou-have-a-culture-ofinnovation.html
    17. 17. 7. Agile transformation with ‘global’ IT shops Team which drives ‘global’ transformation face challenges with • Consistency of information being communicated • Coordination & tracking of activities globally • Multi- cultural ( or Cross- cultural) trust issues Illustration courtesy: Laurent Meurisse , Blog Test driven business for lean start-up • Centralization control – strategies, decisions What works – • Do it the Agile way – Plan iterations, PSIs’* • Start small – look for ‘Minimum Viable Product’ • Create backlogs, plan iterations - what works best *PSI – Potential Shippable Increment 17 ©2013, Cognizant
    18. 18. 8. Coaching hurdles with distributed teams • Tendency to reverse to sequential approach – Waterfall styled project plans, Iteration plan • Poor visibility of distributed teams – Locations other than where the coaches is available • Setting the expectation with leadership - Level of Agility – possible impact • Maintaining consistency in coaching across regions What works• Observe team planning styles - release & iteration • Travel to other locations to meet rest, proxy coach • Community forums amongst coaches of different region 18 ©2013, Cognizant
    19. 19. 9. Risk of global business teams being left out • Business are more distributed than than IT people • Business teams not being part of IT Agile transformation • Lack of training, awareness on lean and Agile principles • Non-availability of business stakeholders during demo, reviews What works – • Align Business and IT organization to delivery greater value • Educate and communicate the new approach • Help using lean principles for managing business idea & themes 19 ©2013, Cognizant
    20. 20. 10.Time zone differences • Team working hours - Truncated time window to collaborate Illustration courtesy : Robert Maksimchuk , Rally NA, NA and UK with day light saving NA 12 1 am UK 4 5 am APA 930 1030 am - NA with APAC - EU with ANZ • Hard working hours - Coming early or leaving late 6 7 8 9 1130 1230 130 230 pm pm pm 6 10 330 pm 7 11 430 pm 8 • Extreme time zone 2 3 4 5 12 pm 530 pm 9 1 pm 630 pm 10 2 pm 730 pm 11 3 pm 830 pm 4 pm 930 pm pm pm 12 pm What works1 pm 5 pm 1030 2 pm 6 pm 1130 • Working Agreement eg: Most team discussions during rush or busy hour • Minimize dependencies among teams in multiple locations • Be available for rest of the team during working hours • Teams good practices and learning from other teams and projects 20 ©2013, Cognizant
    21. 21. Summary 1. Building trust within distributed teams and Collaboration using digital tools 2. Study bottlenecks/ constrains through value stream mapping exercise 3. Keep enterprise as slices of lean units, like start-ups 4. Provide choices on technology enabler for given purpose 5. Distributed Agile works well with standing teams 6. Seeding experts within new learning teams and locations 7. Agile transformation - Start small – look for ‘Minimum Viable Product’ 8. Community forums amongst coaches of different region 9. Align Business and IT organization to delivery greater value 10. Be available for rest of the team during working hours 21 ©2013, Cognizant

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