Agile Development

How To Manage Agile Projects as An Extended Distributed Team?

agile!

A company’s success for the most part depends on choosing the right people for each job. Yet, in some scenarios matching candidate profile to the required job role can be a challenging task, especially when you have to align talent, compensation, and job specifications.

Hiring a remote team provides a solution to this dilemma. With an extended remote team model, you can combine the talent of the distributed team members with those of your in-house team and get the best of both worlds. The extension team operates offshore, helping to bridge the skill gaps in your core staff.

Despite the similarities with traditional outsourcing, extended development teams may be a better choice for some businesses due to several differences.

When should you opt for team augmentation?

Team extension is a suitable choice for your business when,

  • Your company has never attempted this type of project before, and you don't want to divert the attention of your internal teams;

  • you require expertise that cannot be found in the local talent pool; and

  • acquiring talent from the local market is expensive.

A company that already has a team of developers that it wants to enhance with the required talent for long-term projects will benefit most from this model. You can also use software team augmentation if you don't have an in-house development team but want direct access to your engineers.

A quick look at some of the benefits of extended teams

  • Gain access to the best talent cost-efficiently

Find the best fit tech talent on the international market without being locally confined while lowering the development cost.

  • Detailed screening of candidates

Interview potential candidates in-depth to ascertain whether or not they possess the required skills and will be able to blend in with your core team.

  • Dedicated developers

As your remote team members work on solving various issues that arise and improving the product along with your in-house team, both teams are motivated to do their best.

  • Transparency in communication

With no intermediaries between you and the developers, you can communicate directly with them and address any issues that arise.

  • Efficient management of payment

An extended team allows you to agree on a fixed monthly fee that covers all the developers' expenses, helping you plan your budget and keep track of your spending.

  • Quick set-up and easy scalability

The developer team can be set up in a matter of a couple of weeks, and the size can be scaled as necessary depending on efficiency and project requirements.

Drawbacks or challenges faced when working with extended teams

While implementing an extended team model to your business has many benefits, it also comes with its share of challenges.

Lack of supervision

Managerial communication and support may be limited to remote-work employees. Consequently, remote workers may feel like their managers are not on top of their needs, and are not supportive.

A lack of a clear set of instructions

For employees to succeed, respond to communications, or attend virtual meetings, they may need more guidance and clear directives.

Decrease in productivity

Working remotely increases productivity for many workers, but some may struggle to function without direct supervision.

Inefficient communication

Any and all communications in the augmented team model have to be intentional and planned.

Team integrity

Many times, the remote developers' team is overlooked while the in-house team gets more benefits.

Introducing Agile methodology

Agile methods are product development approaches aligned with the values and principles laid out in the Agile Manifesto.

Using Agile methods, the development cycle is broken down into short, more frequent stages with the help of small cross-functional and self-organizing teams to deliver smaller chunks of functionality that can be improved more quickly based on continuous client feedback. Agile software development strategy is based on the concept of iterative development and collaboration.

Agile development's biggest benefit is that it enables teams to collaborate to deliver value faster, with an increase in quality, and an increased inclination for responding to corrections as needed.

How can Agile methodology overcome the challenges faced by remote team augmentation?

By implementing the agile methodology, companies can not only overcome the challenges faced in handling remote teams, but they can also help improve and grow their business.

This method of setting short-term goals instead of long-term project goals keeps teams motivated and ensures they are always on track to meet their final deadlines. For remote teams, Agile can be a very beneficial methodology as it allows them to determine what is working for their team and what isn't. Team leads can use the information to make the necessary changes in real-time without delaying the overall timeline causing unnecessary delays in final product delivery.

What are the steps involved in implementing an Agile approach?

We have looked at what is an Agile methodology and how it can be beneficial for your business to implement it to overcome management issues with handling remote teams. Now let's have a look at how to implement Agile in your extended team.

Self-organizing teams, flexibility, and a high level of collaboration are all characteristics of Agile. The process involved in its implementation may seem intimidating at first. While Agile eliminates some of the structure you're used to, it places a greater focus on project management.

With so many iterations of planning and delivery going on, your teams need to be synchronized more than anything else. The project manager or team leader is responsible for making sure everyone is working together smoothly.

Step 1: Agile project plan

Discussion and project planning

Define a clear business need that your project will solve. Find an answer to the question of what do you aim to achieve with your product and how will you do it. An agile strategy is based on being realistic and has to be flexible and adaptable to change as per client feedback.

Outlining your strategy based on the Elevator Pitch method will help you to formulate an effective strategy.

  • Who is your target audience?

  • What problem are you trying to solve?

  • What is the product?

  • What is the benefit of this product? How can you make it attractive to the customer?

  • How is it better than the competitor's product?

  • What makes your product unique?

  • Combine it all

Build a product roadmap

Once the strategy has been charted out, it’s time to translate that vision into a product roadmap. At this stage, you identify, prioritize, and estimate the time and effort each component will require to make a usable product. Using the agile method, you develop objective-driven roadmaps that are inclined towards achieving goals, objectives, and outcomes, such as obtaining customers, increasing engagement, and removing technical debt.

Create a release plan

Using agile project management, short-term sprints are planned with the goal of reliably delivering useful software. Once the roadmap is in place, a release schedule is to be created for each version. Prioritize the features that should be launched first in Agile projects since there are multiple releases. Release plans are determined by the complexity of a project and the length of the durations of work assigned to each objective.

Sprint planning

By collaborating with the product owner, the development team plans sprints, which are short cycles of development focused on achieving specific project goals. Each sprint begins with the creation of a list of backlog items that can be completed during that timeframe that will help to develop functional software.

Sprint reviews

Be sure all requirements were met according to the initial plan. It is possible that certain functionalities will be rejected by the product owner, or that something might go wrong. This will lead to further iterations that will need to be adjusted in the next sprint so that the team can meet its goals. A big part of Agile is continuous learning and iteration, which applies to both processes and products.

Step 2: Daily stand-ups with the team

Establish regular meetings to check in and ensure no development roadblocks exist. In Agile, these are known as stand-ups. In these stand-up meetings, the teams come together to discuss:

  • What has been completed?

  • What task is ongoing?

  • Are there any issues that need to be resolved?

Communication is at the core of Agile project management, and stand-up meetings facilitate this. The goal of Agile is to be able to identify issues quickly and voice them across teams.

Step 3: Sprint retrospective

A retrospective can improve every release. Follow up on the last release with a sprint retrospective. Analyze the last sprint to evaluate:

  • Did everything go according to plan?

  • Was the workload manageable?

  • If not, how can you improve the process or planning?

  • What new information did you gain that could affect the original schedule or vision for the project?

Plan a discussion on the previous sprint and collaborate on how to improve the next one.

Step 4: Choosing the right Agile methodology

The nature and purpose of your project are the fundamental factors that will determine which agile methodology to adopt. Most agile methodologies use many of the same principles to deliver a product faster and ensure smooth communication between stakeholders and developers.

The popular Agile methodologies:

  • Scrum

  • Extreme Programming (XP)

  • Kanban

  • Adaptive Software Development (ASD)

  • Dynamic Software Development Method (DSDM)

  • Feature Driven Development (FDD)

  • Behavior Driven Development (BDD)

Step 5: Usage of collaboration tools

Project management tools are useful for teams both onsite and remotely. Invest in a single application that solves multiple business processes without having to use different applications. Metrics and KPIs can be analyzed with tools like JIRA and Scrum Mate. A good collaboration tool is essential for remote working. Story or requirements, reporting, and managing issues, as well as quality and progress tracking, are common practices used by agile teams.

Step 6: Utilize smart metrics

Determine what metrics and KPIs will help your team to deliver value. Among these are metrics such as work in progress, resource capacity, and planned-to-done ratio. Measuring metrics is imperative for team management.

Step 7: Facilitate transparent and frequent communication

Managing a remote team makes communication even more critical. Ensure you provide enough feedback to your team, and be willing to accept what they say. Without personal contact, it is much more difficult for teammates to maintain a good work relationship. Let everyone have an opportunity to express themselves. By maintaining open communication, everyone stays on the same page and unnecessary conflicts are avoided.

Step 8: Create and use more documentation

Documentation comes second to working software according to Agile principles. In remote teams, all members should have easy access to project-related information and knowledge. While comprehensive documentation does not take precedence over working solutions. Remote teams need accessible documentation such as a knowledge base, manuals, and requirements.

Step 9: Manage variations in time-zone

To manage time-zone variations involves more than ensuring that everyone can attend meetings in their time zone. The goal is to motivate and engage all members. Understand and accommodate the difficulties of working in a multi-time zone environment, without limiting team members to a specific time zone that will affect their morale.

Step 10: Accountability

Remote team members need to make themselves accountable to the whole team although agile promotes self-reliance and organization. Team members are responsible for the attainment of business goals and their contribution to achieving them. As a first step, document expectations and agree on how each member will be held accountable.

Conclusion

In order to properly transition your team to remote working, you should take your time and explain to everyone what the purpose and benefits will be. Keeping everyone on the same page is key to keeping the project on track. Be sure to communicate clearly why, what, and how everything will be done going forward. Ensure that every team member is involved and gets a chance to contribute to the project.

FAQs

What is Agile?

The Agile methodology is based on the iterative and incremental process of developing products. This enables your projects to adjust to changes more easily and facilitates more frequent delivery of drafts or iterations of your products.

Is Agile the future of project development?

As Agile development provides flexibility and adaptability, it is ideal for projects where the constraints are not clearly identified. Besides customers who want frequent deliveries of workable products, it works for those that want a high level of involvement in the process.

Top