How to implement agile methodologies for remote teams
Thanks to technological advances, remote work has been on the rise for the last few years, and with good reason: it has been proven that companies offering the option to work remotely see a 25% decrease in turnover. Moreover, as we know, working with agile methodologies is the best way to make the most of your resources, decrease the risk of failure and improve your chances of succeeding. It is a faster, more efficient, and more productive way of developing any software. However, implementing agile methodologies for a remote agile team teams does come with its challenges. In this article, we’ll focus on six tips to help you on this front.
1. Foster communication
Fostering communication is essential for any remote agile team, but even more so when it comes to an agile one. The success of a remote agile team depends highly on personal connections and mutual understanding. You should foster communication across all roles by creating opportunities for the team to interact and get to know each other through video conferences, 1:1 video chat sessions, internal blogs or video coffee breaks.
2. Use an online planning board
A planning board is the basis of any agile team. When it comes to working remotely, there are plenty of options to create an online board to manage each project. Jira and Trello are both examples of excellent tools to help you with this area. Jira is almost plug-and-play, giving you the freedom to choose between a Scrum and a Kanban board while customizing many of the details. Meanwhile, Trello is simpler and allows you to create your own board from scratch to meet your specific requirements. It also has the added benefit of being free, unless you require extra features or integrations.
3. Have daily standups and iteration planning meetings
Just because you’re not in the same office, it doesn’t mean you can’t still have daily standups. You can easily use Zoom or Skype to set them up. However, when dealing with a remote agile team that spans different time zones, make sure to schedule communications in the time zone that is most beneficial for all members.
The same applies to iteration planning meetings. They can easily be done online with a video conference call, aided by screen sharing. To make the most of them and ensure they go smoothly, you should make sure there is someone leading the meeting. It is also a good idea to record the meeting for team members to have as reference later on.
4. Foster self-reliance and self-organization
Just like in any agile environment, each remote agile team member needs to be able to take ownership and responsibility for their work organization and environment. This means you need to work on each member’s self-reliance and self-organization as these are essential qualities that have a considerable impact on your project. You should focus on laying ground rules from the get-go, writing down expectations, and making the most of the daily standups. These are tools that will help you work on these abilities and check where each member stands.
5. Define your acceptance criteria
Defining acceptance criteria is a cornerstone of any successful development team. But, when it comes to a remote agile team, it is even more important that everything is crystal clear from day one. You should define all acceptance criteria in extreme detail and add it to the relevant ticket on the planning board. If you share the criteria during the iteration planning meeting, make sure the product owner is present to clarify any doubts that may arise.
6. Document more with remote agile teams
Most agile teams do well enough by documenting just the basic requirements. That said, when working on a remote agile team, documentation becomes all that more important and you should strive to use it as much as possible since remote agile team members don’t have access to a quick on-site explanation of a complex concept. You can also use alternative methods—such as pictures, videos or screenshots—to explain a specific concept or make a point to someone on the other side of your screen.
Final thoughts on remote agile teams
Agile teams run by the same rules whether remote or on-site. However, you’ll have to put more effort into implementing the appropriate tools and making sure all information is getting across when working remotely. Not interacting face-to-face with everyone on a daily basis makes it harder for any team to succeed. However, there are plenty of tools to help you create the best remote agile team possible and work towards an even more successful development company.