remotely agile? effective interaction with distributed teams
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Remotely Agile? Effective Interaction with Distributed Agile Teams
Dorinne HammonsSr. UX Designer, Kelsey-Seybold Clinic@DorinneUXDorinne.Hammons@Kelsey-Seybold.com
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Lets talk about Agile
Agile ManifestoWe are uncovering better ways of developingsoftware by doing it and helping others do it.Through this work we have come to value:Individuals and interactions over processes and toolsWorking software over comprehensive documentationCustomer collaboration over contract negotiationResponding to change over following a planThat is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the leftmore.
From Agile Allilance: https://www.agilealliance.org/agile101/the-agile-manifesto/3
Agile Principles4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
From Agile Alliance: https://www.agilealliance.org/agile101/12-principles-behind-the-agile-manifesto/4
How is Agile Affected by Distance? Team OrganizationMeetings Collaboration
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Types of remote teamsConsultants, or one remote team memberOff shore teamsFully distributed teams
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Is this what your coworkers look like?
It can be hard to make a personal connection with a voice on the phone. People become resources machines that we hand our specs to and get code in return rather than integrated parts of the team.
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Individuals, not resources
Stress a human connection Bring the whole team together for a kickoff meeting, if possible. Video conference, or if thats not possible, at least send pictures. Connect names with faces.
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This is true even in co-located teams, but with distributed teams you lose some of the body language cues that this is happening. (Ive seen this the most with offshore teams).Be aware that not everyone is as forthcoming about disagreements, etc, as the stereotypical white male American.
Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands: http://www.amazon.com/Kiss-Bow-Shake-Hands-Bestselling/dp/1593373686
CC0 Image courtesy of Robert Owen-Wahl on Pixabay
https://www.rallydev.com/TFS Agile tools: https://www.visualstudio.com/features/agiletools-vs?https://www.scrumdo.com/Scrum board for SharePoint 2013: https://store.office.com/scrum-board-WA104114210.aspx?assetid=WA104114210Excel Templates for scrum: https://www.mitchlacey.com/resources/sprint-excel-templates
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Agile is full of meetings. Efficient, well run meetings, they tell us. But there are a lot of them.
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Not every meeting needs video, but its really nice for building that personal connection between team members. Screen-sharing is very important for Demos or for looking at your status tracking tool, etc. Tandberg conference rooms are great! But they are expensive and not everyone has them. Hangouts, Skype, and some versions of WebEx are freeAdobe Connect, GoToMeeting, or Skype for Business may be available through your company. The tool you use is less important than the fact that you make an effort to find a tool that works for your team and then use it!
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Its a lot easier for meetings to run long (especially stand-ups!) on the phone. Especially if everyone is sitting down they call them stand-ups for a reason! Make sure irrelevant discussions are taken offline. With remote team members it becomes super critical to limit background noise and have one conversation at a time. It can be very frustrating to be on the phone trying to pick out the important bits where there are two or three conversations going on. Take side conversations to IM, or table them for follow-up later.
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Try to find a time when everyone is comfortably in the office.Find a time when the majority of the team is in the office.Move meetings (at least some of them) early or late to accommodate the difference. In some cases, move work hours to create as much overlap between time zones as possible.
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Collaborating across distributed teams isnt as easy as walking to someones cubical, or ducking into a conference room for a quick whiteboard session. Especially for people in very visual disciplines, like information architects and user experience designers, it can be difficult to get the information you need to do your work, and to communicate your work to the rest of the team.
jfjfCC Image courtesy of WOCInTech Chat on Flickr
Twiddla, Scribblar, Slack, Google Drawing. Or just screen share whatever tools you normally use. Ive had a lot of success screen sharing Balsamiq mockups that I update as we discuss, or Visio flow charts, etc.
Image from Twiddla blog: http://www.twiddla.com/Blog/2008/12/10-zillion-percent-better-at-ui-design.html
Be Available! This is critical because of Agiles quick turn-around time. Make sure your team knows how to get in contact with you, or with each other. Email is good, but be comfortable picking up the phone and asking a question, or connecting via IM or other tools.
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Individuals and interactionsSummaryTeam Organization MeetingsCollaboration
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Dorinne Hammons Sr. UX Designer, Kelsey-Seybold Clinic
With 20 locations and counting! in the greater Houston area, Kelsey-Seybold is Houstons largest and most renowned private multi-specialty physician group. I work as part of the IT team, providing UX design for our internal and external applications the applications we build for the business office, nurses, and doctors to use indie our clinics, and the websites and software our patients use to access their electronic medical records, schedule appointments, or get other health information. Distributed team experienceKelsey-Seybold we have one remote employee, but with a liberal work-from-home policy at least one person on the team is working from home on any given day. We also occasionally partner with outside agencies for design and development that is outside the scope of our IT team. Halliburton International Company means international software teams. Often teams included members in Houston, Denver, and/or Calgary, or offshore development teams in India, Pakistan, China, etc.
ReferencesAgile Alliance - https://www.agilealliance.org Think globally, code locally: the secret to remote teams - https://www.atlassian.com/agile/remote-teams Best Practices for Remotely Managing Agile Teams - http://www.devx.com/architect/Article/45134 Agile Development - Working with Agile in a Distributed Team Environment - https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/hh771057.aspx Distributed Agile: 8 ways to get more from your distributed teams - http://www.infoq.com/articles/distributed-agile-8-ways Successful Distributed Agile Team Working Patterns - http://www.solutionsiq.com/docs/successful-distributed-team-working-patterns.pdf
ImagesCC0 Image courtesy of Picography on PixabayCC Image courtesy of WOCInTech Chat on FlickrCC Image courtesy of WOCInTech Chat on FlickrCC0 Image courtesy of Sherri Yates on PixelBayCC Image courtesy of r. nial bradshaw on FlickrCC Image courtesy of WOCInTech Chat on FlickrCC0 Image courtesy of Robert Owen-Wahl on PixabayCC Image courtesy of Drew Stephens on FlickrCC Image courtesy of Karthik C on FlickrCC Image courtesy of Librarianboy on FlickrCC Image courtesy of Mike Bash on FlickrCC Image courtesy of Kevin Jarrett on FlickrCC Image courtesy of WOCInTech Chat on FlickrImage from Twiddla blog: http://www.twiddla.com/Blog/2008/12/10-zillion-percent-better-at-ui-design.html CC0 Image courtesy of Kevin Phillips on PixabayCC0 Image courtesy of Unsplash on PixabayCC0 Image courtesy of Picography on Pixabay