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Advice on moving to a remote Agile development model overnight

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March 31, 2020 | Topic: Agile Development  
Advice on moving to a remote Agile development model overnight

During this time of unprecedented change and upheaval, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the world, many businesses are moving almost overnight to a work from home model.

Many software development organizations have emphasized the importance of having teams physically working together in recent years, to help with coordination, innovation, and communication. For these organizations, Agile development has been a key methodology to help in their transition to a more modern approach to software development. Many of these organizations are now having to shift almost overnight to a remote, work-from-home model.

As a result, here at Belatrix we wanted to share both some insights from our experience, as well as advice from one of the founders of the Agile movement, Alistair Cockburn, provided to us. Alistair spoke about remote Agile and how best to work in remote teams, when he visited our offices a little while ago.

Firstly, it is important to note that he first emphasized how Agile works best when people are in the same room, “looking face to face, talking to each other, when they can see each other and everything that is happening”. That is the ideal situation.

However, he also emphasized that many organizations have been able to use Agile remotely with a lot of success. Alistair stated that the first thing to do is to use technology to try to create the same amount of information transfer between people as would happen in a usual face-to-face situation. This means always having the camera on, having a good microphone, and big screens where possible. Using Zoom, Skype or Hangouts will all help here. His advice was essentially that as you shift to a remote model, use whatever is necessary to help simulate being in the same room as your co-workers. Technology is your friend. This of course is easier if you have already had the chance to meet in person and you already have that personal connection.

His second piece of advice was perhaps slightly more surprising. He highlighted how many (in particular younger) people have become used to playing online distributed games. In these games, people already have these habits of speaking, communicating, and typing with each other in a highly distributed environment. Such skills can be very helpful when working in a fully distributed environment.

Case study: How we built a powerful SaaS process automation platform using distributed Agile development

To understand more about the effectiveness of distributed Agile development, I recommend reviewing our case study with the Silicon Valley-based start-up, TeamworkIQ. In the case study, we explain how we worked closely together in one team, between Latin America and the US.

In using Agile development, we held daily meetings and constant reviews to add and improve features to the product, a cloud-based tool to help organizations automate their workflows and processes. In particular, the timezone overlap between Silicon Valley and Lima helped us ensure there was real-time collaboration and problem solving that kept the Agile development cycle lean and fast moving, despite the fact that team members were located in different countries.

Meanwhile, continuous integration allowed everyone to see new features as they were being built, whilst also providing the flexibility to modify the features, even before the sprint had ended.

If you would like to know more about how we work effectively with a remote and distributed Agile development model, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us at hello@belatrixsf.com

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