Distributed Scrum Team

Distributed Scrum Team

Vivek Jayaraman
26th Mar, 2020

Distributed Scrum Team

Is it necessary to have a Scrum Team co-located? Well, even if people sit next to each other, without the right intent, the teams can’t achieve agility. In Agile, people collaborate towards a common goal.

There are many open-source products developed by people spread across the globe. They are successful because they all have the intent to build great products that make this world a better place. However, when the teams are distributed, there will be challenges.

There are so many challenges when it comes to working together. So many things need to be addressed when the team is located remotely. Multiple issues need to be handled to enable collaboration. 

A. Visibility issues: When you don’t know what’s happening on the other side of the ocean, the collaboration may get impacted. The teams may not be able to work as effectively as they could. Many a time, the team doesn't know what the other one is working on. What can you do to address visibility issues? 

  • You may have to make use of a digital backlog management tool or a collaboration tool. A simple tool is always better. Some examples could be JIRA, leanGears, Startup Planner, Rally, Version One, etc. Choose your tool wisely. 
  • If you are building software, practices like continuous integration create better visibility into technical work. 

B. Communication issues: Given that we all come from different linguistic backgrounds and cultural backgrounds, diversity may act as a barrier to communication. How do you overcome this problem? 

  • Make use of wireframes and prototypes than long detailed documents. 
  • Use Smartboards like Microsoft Surface Hub 
  • Invest in high-quality audio-video equipment 
  • Bring teams together at least once a release, preferably at the begging of the release. 
  • Conduct cross-cultural team-building activities often. 

C. Timezone issues: The timezone issues may curtail the collaboration time leading to inefficiencies. Each location has different working hours and styles. How do you address this problem? 

  • Have an agreement on working hours to achieve the right amount of overlap time. For example, if you have a team in San Jose and another in Bangalore. You may have an agreement where the San Jose team comes early to the office and the Bangalore team late in one Sprint and vice versa in another Sprint. 
  • Have working agreements to be available on any instant messaging platform like Skype, iMessage, WhatsApp, telegram, etc. for a couple of hours after work hours for answering any quick questions. Well, that will call for flexible work hours for your teams to manage the maximum collaboration window.

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