A practical guide to setting up a new agile project team. Based on years of agile delivery and coaching experience for projects in a number of distributed and offshore models, for teams sized from 10 to 200 people, and spread across 4 continents, and 8+ locations. Some areas that will be touched on:

  • People - how to organize distributed teams, cultural factors to consider, ways to build trust, and how to avoid timezone burnout.
  • Process - how to communicate effectively, plan collaboratively, setup distributed practices (standups, retros, pairing, etc), effectively divide work on a common codebase, maintain visibility, and track progress.
  • Tools - (tips provided as a handout) which hardware and software tools should you absolutely invest in to help overcome communication,  visibility and collaboration challenges
 
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Outline/structure of the Session

  1. Introduction (incl presenters' background in setting up and managing distributed agile projects) - 5 min
  2. People aspects - 20 min
    • Team configurations (team models, dysfunctional to effective role distribution)
    • Building trust (project kickoff, rotations, leadership, conflict management)
    • Cultural considerations (awareness and impact)
    • Managing customer / business expecations (especially in comparison to a co-located team model)
  3. Process aspects - 20 min
    • Structured and unstructured communication techniques
    • Dividing work on a code base across locations
    • Effective practices in a distributed setup - standups, showcases, retrospectives, pair-programming, etc
    • Planning considerations for distributed teams (e.g. planning velocity for sub-teams)
    • Cross-location visibility - some key radiators in all team locations that can help

Learning Outcome

  1. Understand what needs special attention when setting up a distributed team, in different distributed setups (co-sourced, near-shore, offshore, etc)
  2. Learn ways to overcome typical challenges that geographic, cultural and timezone spread pose for agile projects
  3. Learn practical tips, tricks and tools to plan for, and make distributed delivery more effective and predictable

Target Audience

Managers and practitioners new to or in the early stages of adopting large-scale, distributed agile

schedule Submitted 3 years ago

Comments Subscribe to Comments

comment Comment on this Proposal
  • Meghan Robinson
    By Meghan Robinson  ~  1 year ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Guys,

    I’m intrigued by your articles regarding scrum and agile! I’m wondering if you would be willing to write a piece or give us permission to highlight an existing article on the new AgileCareers Blog. AgileCareers is powered by Scrum Alliance and is the only job board dedicated to connecting Scrum and Agile organizations with qualified, passionate Agile professionals.

     

    Click below to view the blog: http://membership.scrumalliance.org/blogpost/1322603/AgileCareers-News

     

    If you wish to discuss further, please email me at mrobinson@scrumalliance.org. I look forward to hearing from you!

     

    Thanks,

    Meghan

  • Ravi Kumar
    By Ravi Kumar  ~  3 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Tarang,

     

    Hi,

    Many of the conference attendees are requesting presentation slides. We find that your proposal on http://confengine.com/ is not updated with your session slides. Request you to kindly update the same.

     

    Thanks and regards,

     

     

    Ravi

    • Tarang Baxi
      By Tarang Baxi  ~  3 years ago
      reply Reply

      Thanks for the reminder, Ravi. Slides now added.

  • Ravi Kumar
    By Ravi Kumar  ~  3 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Tarang,

     

    There seems to be a lot of material that you are trying to cover which can be reduced significantly. My suggestion for ex. is to pick 2-3 most important people related aspects and articulate the role of the procees or tools in overcoming the challenges that helped the offshore/distributed teams. This in my opinion would be very valuable for the audience. Honesly 90 min for a talk will be overwhelming. Alternatively you could also consider to split the topics into two 20 min experience reports one on tools and the other on people & process.

     

    Thanks and regards,

     

    Ravi

    • Tarang Baxi
      By Tarang Baxi  ~  3 years ago
      reply Reply

      Thank you for the feedback, Ravi. I do appreciate the concern about the amount of material to cover. My thought was that there may be value in a session on this topic that focusses on the breadth of the topic instead of depth of a few items so that it can help people setting up distributed teams to identify all the types of things they need to think about. In my experience with managing and coaching large (often ultra-distributed) teams, I've seen teams focus on some aspects of how to execute as a distributed team and even do those very well. But often they miss out on other key aspects leading to less than stellar results. Hence my hypothesis that coverage of breadth may be useful here. Choosing 2-3 items to focus on would also be a valid option here, but wouldn't match my intent. I fully understand that I would have to be very, very selective about how much I can share on each of the sub-topics, and thats what I intend to do.

      I'm also with you on 90min possibly being too long for a monologue-type talk, so I'm open to shortening this to 60 min, and perhaps cutting out the 'Tools' section altogether, substituting it with a handout perhaps. In addition I would shorten the 'People' and 'Process' sections to 25 min each, leaving 10 min for Q&A. Would that work better?

      • Ravi Kumar
        By Ravi Kumar  ~  3 years ago
        reply Reply

        Hi Tarang,

         

        The designated time slots as per the program structure is 20, 60 and 90 min slots. it will be essential to have the sessions aligned to slots. I suggest you to do the following.

        1. Revisit your proposal and update it for the shorter time duration.

        2. Submit a draft of the session in a ppt so that we get a better perspective on your session.

        We might be able to adjust the time slots if the content justifies the 60 min time requirement.

         

        Hope this is not too much to ask.

         

        Best,

        Ravi

        • Tarang Baxi
          By Tarang Baxi  ~  3 years ago
          reply Reply

          Thanks Ravi. I have updated the proposal for a 45 min slot. I've cut out a few of the lower priority sub-topics to fit within the smaller window and eliminated a separate Q&A time at the end - we'll just take questions as we go along.

          As for ppt - I don't have a ready one I can send you just yet. Chirag and I usually prefer to keep our slides very light on text (probably not much more than what we've included in the outline), focussing on visuals to represent the ideas we talk about. It will be a few days before we can have these visuals ready.

  • Srinath Chandrasekharan
    By Srinath Chandrasekharan  ~  3 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Tarang,

    In addition to the comments by Raja and Rahul, I have an observation. You have listed about 12 areas across People, Process and Tools. Some of these are quite large by themselves and doing all these in 90 minutes may not do justice to the individual topics.

    Do you think it would make sense to have a focussed session on 2-3 topics which feel are at the top of your mind when you set up distributed Agile teams.

     

    Regards,

    Srinath

     

    • Tarang Baxi
      By Tarang Baxi  ~  3 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Srinath,

      The focus of my talk is on breadth, so you're right that I won't be able to spend a lot of time on each individual sub-topic. There is reasonably rich material available on many of them, that I will reference as further reading material during my talk for anyone who wants to go into depth. This is a vast area, but based on my experience with this topic, I specifically wanted to attempt a quick run-through of all major area to consider when setting up a distributed team, because I find that one or the other critical areas are missed or ignored by a lot of project teams (I'm guilty of it myself) that puts to waste a lot of hard work put in other areas of project setup. This talk is also based on the outline of a book on distributed delivery that a colleague and I are working on.

  • Raja Bavani
    By Raja Bavani  ~  3 years ago
    reply Reply

    Dear Tarang,

    This proposal is for a talk.  Just be looking at the proposal, I wonder if the duration (90 minutes) is too short or too long because I am not sure if you are going to cover a wide range of possible varieties of projects.  More details in terms of bringing out the focus areas, takeaways, benefits etc., will help.  Also, structiring the process with more items or sub-items will improve clarity.

    Please see this sample proposal http://confengine.com/proposal/1/sample-proposal-product-discovery-workshop . It has all these elements (such as links to slidedeck, video clip, etc.,)  

    Could you please add these to your proposal? That is going to help our reviewers understand what you are going to cover and how you are going to structure this talk.

    Regards,

    Raja

     

     

    • Tarang Baxi
      By Tarang Baxi  ~  3 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Raja,

      Thank you for the comments. I do have a lot of material to present so 90 min possibly being too short is a valid concern. The idea here is to focus on the breadth of the topic, such that participants know what the areas to think about when setting up a distributed team. They will of course then need to read other reference material on sub-topics for depth. I'm adding some more to the outline and learning outcomes, as well as providing links to videos and slides of other talks I've given (incl at previous editions of the agile india conference). I have not presented this particular session before so I don't have slides or videos to link to.

      Adding more sub-items to the structure as you've suggested.

  • Rahul Sawhney
    By Rahul Sawhney  ~  3 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Tarang,

    Thank you for submitting the proposal. 

    In your proposal, I would like to understand what you will present in each section, and more detail in the learning outcome section. If you have a presentaiton / outline / narrative /past video / any other reference material, it would be helpful if you could share that as well and update the proposal with the relevant info.

    Thanks,

    Rahul

    • Tarang Baxi
      By Tarang Baxi  ~  3 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Rahul,

      I have presented different portions of this material at a number of client locations as part of my job as a consultant and coach at ThoughtWorks (e.g. on communication patterns, team configuration models, etc in distributed scenarios) but this is an attempt to compile all of this into one presentation for the first time, so I don't have a ready deck or video. I'm adding more details to the outline and learning outcomes for further clarity on the content I intend to present.

      Tarang


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    Talk
    Intermediate

    Are you developing new functionalities into branches? Have you ever experienced the pain of merging the changes into trunk? The so called "merge hell" is one of the first and probably the most important smell that tells you've been abusing of your source control manager branching capabilities and, most likely, hurting your productivity and your code quality as well. In order to move towards a continuous delivery approach, the practice of trunk based development suggests ways to avoid this type of issues among others like inconsistent feature sets, code that stays in an undeployable state for a long time, regressions introduced by semantic differences that arise during those joyful merging sessions, integration surprises with the other features, and the like. Even if you are not a developer on your team you will benefit from the examples and techniques presented.

  • Liked Fiona Mullen
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    Agile - An Australian Journey of Cultural Change

    Fiona Mullen
    Fiona Mullen
    schedule 3 years ago
    Sold Out!
    45 mins
    Talk
    Beginner

    How did one of Australia's leading financial services organisation become the biggest Agile transformation story in the Southern hemisphere and what did we learn?

    The Suncorp Group leads in general insurance, banking, life insurance, superannuation and investment brands within Australia and New Zealand. The Group has 16,000 employees and relationships with nine million customers. It is a Top 20 ASX listed company with over $93 billion in assets.

    In 2007, we embarked on our Agile journey of cultural change. In this talk we will cover the strategy taken, the roadblocks we came across, the mistakes we made and the achievements along the way.

    You will learn how to tackle an Agile transformation, what to do and what NOT to do, where to start and what to expect and most of all what impact it will have, both negative and positive.

    Today Suncorp are seen as market leaders in Agile and are known globally for the Agile Academy http://www.agileacademy.com.au/agile/ which was designed for both staff and also the external market.

    The role of the Agile PMO, how to get infrastructure to work Agile, what about all those legal challenges, the cultural differences and the resistance to change? These are some of the learning we will share.

    There were challenges and successes and in this honest Aussie presentation will share with you both the highs and the lows.

  • Liked Balaji Ganesh N
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    Using Lean in Application Development to achieve competitive advantage and customer delight

    Balaji Ganesh N
    Balaji Ganesh N
    schedule 3 years ago
    Sold Out!
    20 mins
    Experience Report
    Intermediate

    Executing add-on Application Development (AD) projects end to end is quite challenging. More so, if the same is executed under risk-reward model. According to an IBM study, only 40% of projects meet schedule, budget and quality goals. 20 to 25 percent don’t provide ROI and up to 50 percent require material rework. 

    With competitive pricing and cut throat competition eroding margins and denting market share, cost of delivery reduction with best in class quality has become an imperative for any service company in the IT outsourcing space.

    This case study shares the experience of an AD project (team size 40) in the Insurance domain completed over a period of 9 months (including warranty phase), with a geographic spread across 4 different locations. The team had end to end responsibility right from requirements gathering to System Integration Testing. The add-on functionality developed was rolled out to 5 states spanning 2 different releases. The team leveraged LEAN Six Sigma techniques (DSM, OA, Visual Controls, Mistake Proofing) for culture building, effective change management, early feedback, rework reduction through effective in-process defect reduction and doing things right the first time, resulting in increased customer goodwill, reward payments, enhanced business and high employee satisfaction. The project was flawlessly executed under the risk reward model with best in class quality, maintainability and scalability within the specified schedule.

  • Liked Andrea Heck
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    Distributed Product Owner Team for an Agile Medical Development

    Andrea Heck
    Andrea Heck
    schedule 3 years ago
    Sold Out!
    45 mins
    Case Study
    Advanced

    We are developing medical imaging and workflow software in an agile way with development teams distributed to several countries. One of the major challenges is how to set up and communicate within the Product Owner team. There we have to deal with the distribution, e.g., have the Product Owner either onsite with her peers or with her Scrum team, travelling, or with proxy. We need people who are good in two different fields of knowledge: medical and software development. As a third issues, the environment of the customers may be different in different countries.

    We have ramped up local Product Owners in different countries, have found local collaboration customers, and have developed a set of communication channels and workshops how to synchronize Product Owners in the team, share a common vision and backlog with their Scrum teams, and collaborate with customers locally and globally.

  • Prasanna Vaste
    Prasanna Vaste
    schedule 3 years ago
    Sold Out!
    20 mins
    Experience Report
    Beginner

    On Agile projects we estimate user stories in order to allow team to

    1. 1. Track velocity
    2. 2. Decide scope for the Iteration
    3. 3. Help Prioritize stories
    4. 4. Help Release planning

    But most of the time we faced issues with estimation. It takes lot of time in estimating user stories, managers tend to relate estimate to number of days it will take to complete the story, in some teams estimate is equal to deadline. Most of the teams which use story points to estimate the work face these issues. This results in lack of confidence on development team when stories are taking more time to complete.

    Here I am going to talk about better alternative for both the suppliers of software products (financially and ethically) and their customers (internal and external). This alternative is being used in real companies delivering to real customers with great effect where team uses count of stories completed in an Iteration as measure of progress. Will talk about how this alternative can be used to track velocity, prioritize stories, planning Iteration and for release planning.

    I will share some exmples from my past projects where team did not use story points/velocty but used count of stories completed in Iteration to measure progress and also as best indicator of future performance.

  • Liked Evan Leybourn
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    Let's Kill an Agile Project

    Evan Leybourn
    Evan Leybourn
    schedule 3 years ago
    Sold Out!
    45 mins
    Workshop
    Beginner

    Other talks and games will teach you how to run a successful Agile project. Only this one will teach you how to ruin an Agile project*. In this game we will break every Agile rule, disregard the manifesto and ignore common sense in the singular pursuit of failure (and fun).

    Each of you will be part of an Agile team with a dis-engaged Customer and micro-managing boss. Being Agile, there will be daily stand-ups, planning sessions, retrospectives, and kanban boards but nothing will go as you expect.

    * More importantly, this activity will teach you "how" Agile projects can fail and the reason behind many common Agile practices.

  • Liked Gopinath R
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    3Cs for Agile Project Success - Critical Success Factors & Proven Practices

    Gopinath R
    Gopinath R
    schedule 3 years ago
    Sold Out!
    20 mins
    Experience Report
    Beginner

    Agile methodologies are gaining wider acceptance in Software Development and Testing due to its inherent values like Accelerate Time to Market, Eliminate Waste and flexible to adapt changes quickly. Agile practices emphasis on effective communication, collaboration and customer involvement for addressing the challenges in developing the product in dynamic business environment due to fast changing requirements. The co-location of project teams and high customer interaction throughout the project helps in achieving effective communication, team and customer collaboration.

     In an outsourced or offshore Software development, teams are geographically distributed to develop products in a collaborative and cost-effective manner by better utilization of global talents. Adopting agile methodologies helps in better ROI by developing quality products as per changing market needs in short span. Adopting Agile in global software development shall pose few challenges due to wider geographical distance, time zone differences, and cultural aspects and so on.

     

    This paper presents 3Cs – Communication, Collaboration and Customer Involvement as Critical Success Factors that need to be considered while implementing Agile for Global Software Development. It also details proven practices to address the challenges due to distributed agile software development. This paper is based on Author’s experience in executing Outsourced Product Development engagements using Distributed Agile Methodologies for co-creating Telecom products