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Here be dragons


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Traditional Scrum approaches won't help you if you have to deal with distributed agile teams.

Arun Kumar, founder and CEO of Kerika, presents three generic strategies for handling distributed agile teams and discusses the relative merits of these. (Spoiler alert: Arun's frustrations with traditional methods and tools led him to design and build Kerika, the only task board that's designed specially for distributed agile teams :-)

Published in: Technology
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Here be dragons

  1. 1. Here  Be  Dragons   The  Terra  Incognita  of  Distributed  Agile     Arun  Kumar     ©2013  Kerika,  Inc.  
  2. 2. Summary   •  Teams  everywhere  are  becoming  distributed   –  Private  sector,  public  sector,  nonprofit   •  Teams  everywhere  want  to  be  more  agile   –  Small  “a”  agile,  not  big  “A”  Agile   •  TradiLonal  Scrum  thinking  doesn’t  help.   –  (Go  agile  or  go  distributed,  you  can’t  do  both)   •  We  need  to  develop  new  best  pracLces   –  Arun  presents  lessons  learned  over  many  years.   ©2013  Kerika,  Inc.  
  3. 3. Distributed  teams  in  Private  Sector   Google  is  here   Google’s  CIO  is  here   ©2013  Kerika,  Inc.  
  4. 4. Because  no  room  is  roomy  enough   ©2013  Kerika,  Inc.  
  5. 5. Distributed  Teams  in  Public  Sector   •  Embracing  the  Lean  Government  model   –  Flat  budgets,  as  far  as  the  eye  can  see   •  Increased  use  of  field  teams   –  75%  of  WA  State  Auditor’s  Office  is  not  in  Olympia   •  Need  to  collaborate  across  mulLple  locaLons   –  Only  the  Lniest  agencies  are  collocated   •  Need  to  develop  partnerships   –  Across  agencies,  and  to  outsource  civic  services   ©2013  Kerika,  Inc.  
  6. 6. Distributed  Teams  in  Nonprofit  Sector   •  Sectors  is  basically  a  coage  industry   –  55,000  nonprofits  in  Washington  State   –  80%  with  assets/income  <  $100K   •  Nonprofits  are  service  delivery  organizaLons   –  Contracted  to  deliver  civic  services   –  (Why  Planned  Parenthood  is  funded  everywhere)   •  MulLple,  transient  partnerships   –  This  is  how  nonprofits  increase  their  leverage   ©2013  Kerika,  Inc.  
  7. 7. Social  collaboraLon:  You  Are  Here   You  are  a  member  of     mulLple,  agile  collaboraLon  networks   ©2013  Kerika,  Inc.  
  8. 8. Small  “a”  agile,  not  large  “A”  Agile   •  Be  pragmaLc,  not  dogmaLc   –  Learn,  adopt,  adapt   •  Agile  has  many  sources,  many  variaLons   –  Kanban,  Scrum,  Scrumban,  Lean,  Kaizen,  ROK…       ©2013  Kerika,  Inc.  
  9. 9. The  intersecLon  of  distributed  &  agile   ©2013  Kerika,  Inc.  
  10. 10. 3  Strategies  for  Distributed  Agile   There  are  three  generic  strategies  you  can  try   •  Divide  by  locaLon   •  Divide  by  funcLon   •  Divide  by  module   ©2013  Kerika,  Inc.  
  11. 11. Divide  by  locaLon   •  One  project,  with  teams  in  mulLple  locaLons   –  Each  team  has  full  complement  of  skills   –  A  single  Sprint  cycle  across  mulLple  locaLons   –  A  single  Daily  Standup  across  mulLple  locaLons   –  Implicit  or  explicit  pairing  of  staff  across  locaLons   •  What  you  think  you  will  get:   –  ConLnuous  development,  around  the  clock   –  “Pass  the  book”  at  the  end  of  the  day   ©2013  Kerika,  Inc.  
  12. 12. Does  this  work?   •  Huge  overhead  of  communicaLons   –  Daily/endless  phone  calls   –  Huge  volume  of  emails   –  Significant  staff  turnover   •  More  PMs,  more  travel  than  anLcipated   –  Destroys  economics  of  offshoring   •  Not  really  Agile,  not  very  agile   –  A  bunch  of  mini-­‐waterfalls     ©2013  Kerika,  Inc.  
  13. 13. Divide  by  funcLon   •  Segregate  funcLons  by  locaLon   –  Typical:  all  development  in  US,  all  QA  in  India   –  Single  Sprint  cycle  across  locaLons   •  What  you  think  you  will  get:   –  Cool  stuff  gets  done  locally   –  Crappy  work  gets  done  offshore   –  ConLnuous  QA   ©2013  Kerika,  Inc.  
  14. 14. Does  this  work?   Yes,  if…   •  Each  team  must  be  truly  self-­‐sufficient   •  You  can  manage  mulLple  overlapping  Sprints   –  E.g.  Design  Team  works  one  Sprint  ahead   –  Requirements  and  hand-­‐offs  are  very  explicit   •  Teams  and  processes  are  already  tuned   –  You  cannot  distribute  a  process  that  you  are  sLll   evolving!   ©2013  Kerika,  Inc.  
  15. 15. Divide  by  component   •  Each  locaLon  builds  one  component   –  Or,  divide  by  experLse:  front-­‐end  vs.  back-­‐end   •  One  super-­‐team  integrates   –  Or,  it  somehow  comes  together  in  the  end   •  What  you  think  you  will  get:   –  ComparaLve  advantage:  the  best  of  all  worlds   ©2013  Kerika,  Inc.  
  16. 16. Does  this  work?   You  get  Distributed,  you  give  up  Agile   •  Sprints  are  invariably  much  longer   –  You  are  doing  mini-­‐waterfalls   •  Concept  of  user  story  is  lost   –  Without  stories,  are  you  sLll  Agile?   –  Teams  cannot  recognize  value  delivered   –  Product  owners  get  lost   •  Obamacare  integraLon  model   ©2013  Kerika,  Inc.  
  17. 17. So,  what  does  work?   •  ConLnuous  updates  are  criLcal   –  Daily  Standup  doesn’t  scale  or  distribute   –  Status  is  a  waste  of  a  phone  call   •  Tools  must  support  asynchronous  work   –  “Catch  me  up”   •  Lightweight  tools  help  adopLon   –  Keep  paradigms  simple  across  cultures   •  Make  processes  explicit  &  visual   –  Show,  don’t  tell   ©2013  Kerika,  Inc.  
  18. 18. Kerika  example   See  this  at  hps://     ©2013  Kerika,  Inc.  
  19. 19.   ©2013  Kerika,  Inc.