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High Performing Distributed
Teams
Debunking the Agile myth that it can’t work
@mspitzer
Mark Spitzer  Agile Coach
mspitzer@agilevelocity.com
Mark Spitzer
Agile Velocity
Role
6 yrs
Name
Company
Agile Coach
mspitzer@agilevelocity.com
Email Address
1 Scrum Team
Many Scrum Teams
Agile Team Structure
Time for a Quick Story
Once upon a time, there was a team of individuals
who interacted daily. They found the most efficient
and effective method of conveying information is face-
to-face conversation.
They lived together in one place
and they called it…
Pangea
Everyone was happy.
Transparency
Collaboration
Trust
Then one day they noticed
everything had changed…
Everyone was
Agile clearly won’t work here
of Agile
Why do companies have
distributed teams?
Shout Out Your Answer!
Let’s Look at Some Sample
Teams
-2.5 hours
-11.5 hours-13.5 hours
Sample #1
Remote Team Member
Dependencies Across Teams
Takeaways
• Create a virtual team room to foster
communication throughout the day
• Investment in travel opens communication
channels
• Host Scrum of Scrums using video to address
inter-team dependencies and alignment
• Keeping teams co-located within an office
helps team cohesion
-1.5 hours
Sample #2
Remote Product Owner
Remote Team Member
Remote Manager
Distributed Retrospectives
Takeaways
• Invest in network infrastructure to support
richer communications
• Online collaborative tools make retrospectives
and planning more effective and fun
• When most of the team is remote, make
periodic trips to see them
-6 hours
Sample #3
Remote Scrum Master
2 Remote Team Members
-7 hours
Takeaways
• Continue working with trusted people that
want to live elsewhere
• Remote pair programming is a great way to
allow two people to work together across
locations
Sample #4
Split Teams
Takeaways
• When verbal communication is too
cumbersome, supplement with written
communication
• Working agreements are crucial when work-
life balance is impacted
• Identify and train a proxy for the remote office
• Arrange for early travel to start knowledge
transfer and create ongoing plan
Sample #5
Telecommuting Team
Takeaways
• Telecommuting cuts down on travel time and
can allow for greater focus
• Online presence allows for timely
communication and accountability
• Creative use of co-working space allows the
team to bond regularly
Common Themes
Strength of Relationships • How well do the members of the team know each other?
• How well do they get along?
• Have they worked together on assignments?
Timezone Distance • How many overlapping hours are there during the day?
• Do overlapping hours cause one or both parties to sacrifice
personal time or present a hardship (too early; too late;
weekend overlap)
Communication • How much do the individuals on the team rely on each other?
• If they are different teams, how often do they integrate?
• How often do the people need to interact to be effective?
Transparency and Feedback
Loops
• What kind of information is available online?
• Is the work represented there? Do you know what others are
working on?
• Is code checked in frequently?
• Do people ever duplicate each other's work?
• Do people know each others' schedules?
Dependency • How much do the individuals on the team rely on each other?
• If they are different teams, how often do they integrate?
• How often do the people need to interact to be effective?
Evaluation Criteria
-2.5 hours
-11.5 hours-13.5 hours
Sample #1
Remote Team Member
Dependencies Across Teams
Before
-2.5 hours
-11.5 hours-13.5 hours
Sample #1
Remote Team Member
Dependencies Across Teams
After
What’s Possible to Improve?
Measure Success Against Objectives
*evaluate periodically
Team Owns the Problem Provide The Team What They Need
Can a Distributed Team be Agile?
The Future
According to Forrester 34 million
Americans work from home. This
number is expected to reach a
staggering 63 million or 43% of
the US workforce by 2016.
Teleworkers are 50% more
productive than their office
bound counterparts.
By 2020 more than 40% of the
American workforce or 60 million
people will be freelancers,
contractors and temp workers
(Intuit).
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
??
@mspitzer
Mark Spitzer  Agile Coach
mspitzer@agilevelocity.com

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High performing-distributed-teams

Editor's Notes

  1. Need to replace the image with the real one
  2. Typical makeup of an agile organization and an agile team Define distributed teams Maybe have them define it; Is this a distributed team? Or is this? What about this? Poll the room (histogram) – how many people have distributed teams? how many are practicing some form of Agile (scrum, xp, kanban)? who’s ever heard that Agile only works with co-located teams and if they’re not co-located then you should change them?
  3. It was a magical place…. There was pair programming, collaborative design, daily standups… They had fun… people went out to sat together, ate lunch together, played together
  4. Only some of the people met face to face Many of them didn’t know each other Everyone did things differently You waited on other to get things done and it wasn’t always done right
  5. That can’t be the end of the story can it. There’s got to be more to it. Why do people have distributed teams?
  6. Background India office formed through relationship with employee in Austin (relationship) Talented developer wanted to live in Los Angeles (talent) India develops the platform on which everything else is built Austin group develops applications that integrate with the platform Product Owners and Scrum Masters also in Austin Challenges Inconsistent development practices across offices Understanding of the business easier in Austin where product owners are located Lack of communication between teams; Uncomfortable bringing up difficult issues Team member in California had the most knowledge; Heavy dependency on that member Solutions Fly people over – Dema spent a few critical weeks with the team to bond and impart knowledge Small groups from India were flown over for 3 weeks at a time and rotated until everyone had been to Austin (travel) Open video chat room in the team room; Osmotic communication Scrum of Scrums early morning Austin; Video used for the call (video)
  7. Background Relationship between executive and company in Venezuela Cheaper cost of labor Good mobile development talent Most members of team in one office together One remote employee in another city Product Owner in Austin Manager in Austin No Scrum Master Lack of training on Scrum and Agile Challenges Unreliable network infrastructure Limited travel budget Solutions Realtime Board to gather input from the team during retrospectives Upgrade network infrastructure Product Owner, Manager, and Scrum Master travel to visit the team in Venezuela
  8. Background
  9. Background Product developed by team in India Intellectual property licensed or bought by the third party group that manages them Team in Austin newly hired to takeover the product Goal is knowledge transfer without sacrificing productivity Challenges Poor infrastructure Lack of collaborative tools No Scrum training for India team
  10. Problem Company acquired by firm in Austin Scrum Master and Product Owner is one person; That person is based in Austin Company’s software is primarily providing back-end services to other parts of the company Critical but not a money maker Office space in Boston is expensive Commute times in Boston very long
  11. Timezone differences Less frequency of interaction Reduce richness of communication
  12. Background India office formed through relationship with employee in Austin (relationship) Talented developer wanted to live in Los Angeles (talent) India develops the platform on which everything else is built Austin group develops applications that integrate with the platform Product Owners and Scrum Masters also in Austin Challenges Inconsistent development practices across offices Understanding of the business easier in Austin where product owners are located Lack of communication between teams; Uncomfortable bringing up difficult issues Team member in California had the most knowledge; Heavy dependency on that member Solutions Fly people over – Dema spent a few critical weeks with the team to bond and impart knowledge Small groups from India were flown over for 3 weeks at a time and rotated until everyone had been to Austin (travel) Open video chat room in the team room; Osmotic communication Scrum of Scrums early morning Austin; Video used for the call (video)
  13. Background India office formed through relationship with employee in Austin (relationship) Talented developer wanted to live in Los Angeles (talent) India develops the platform on which everything else is built Austin group develops applications that integrate with the platform Product Owners and Scrum Masters also in Austin Challenges Inconsistent development practices across offices Understanding of the business easier in Austin where product owners are located Lack of communication between teams; Uncomfortable bringing up difficult issues Team member in California had the most knowledge; Heavy dependency on that member Solutions Fly people over – Dema spent a few critical weeks with the team to bond and impart knowledge Small groups from India were flown over for 3 weeks at a time and rotated until everyone had been to Austin (travel) Open video chat room in the team room; Osmotic communication Scrum of Scrums early morning Austin; Video used for the call (video)
  14. Have the team own the problem. Support them with things they can’t provide themselves like: Budget for travel Upgrading network infrastructure Supplying monitors, cameras, audio to support video conferencing Buy software to assist with collaboration Measure success against objectives; Periodic evaluation
  15. According to Forrester 34 million Americans work from home. This number is expected to reach a staggering 63 million or 43% of the US workforce by 2016.
  16. According to Forrester 34 million Americans work from home. This number is expected to reach a staggering 63 million or 43% of the US workforce by 2016.