Tips on Successful Remote Agile Team – Project Management – Part I

Decreasing Risk / Increase Communication For Agile in Small-Medium Sized Remote Teams

Remote Agile Project Management Decrease Risk Communication
Even Without Remote Team Setting – Agile/Lean Requires Lots of Communication!

How many times have we seen good quality teams struggle to meet development targets critical for the business’s success because of challenges in communication, leadership, management, inspiration, and clarity, just to name a few? If this occurs in centralized physical team development environments, how much more so is this true in distributed remote development environments, connected via telecommuting? And when it comes to Agile influenced development/management methodologies, this is even more true as a risk factor to success!

At the same time, why are some teams able to accomplish what seems so difficult for so many, and reap the wondrous fruits of decreased costs, increased creativity, and greater productivity that the world of remote agile promises in the new cloud era?

In my experience, the reality is it’s not magic, but a few important core principles do need to be followed. So what are they and what are they ultimately trying to accomplish? We’ll discuss some of that in this post. Below I list a few of the most successful tools, techniques, and strategies that I have seen work effectively. In terms of what’s trying to be accomplished, this is a big question. For now, if I had to sum it it up in one word, it would be synergy. This is one of the most critical make or break factors that I have seen lead to great successes or difficult challenges.

I would love to hear your thoughts on what you’ve found works the best, and hopefully we will all grow from the exchange!

In the meantime, here are a few of my thoughts:

 

  • Ideally, Divide Product Design / Engineering  Ownerships
    • A lot of responsibility for one person to manage both well
      • Especially so in compressed development time frames
    • Better balance of rerquirements / creativity / technology / project management expertise  skill sets
  • Many benefits of multiple views into the “Tech Team”
    • Opens channels of communicationation between Biz and Dev teams
    • Provides better checks and balances within technical team of:
      • Information
      • Direct Interactions
    • Transparency is a friend in healthy thriving teams
      • Deliverables are on track
      • Proper technical management is occurring
      • Risk factors are being:
        • Identified
        • Addressed in timely fashion
    • Business owners and the whole team often benefit the most
  • Separate Product Design and Application Development Teams and Management
    • Within Technical Team:
      • Useful to designate/deputize a Lead Developer position under the top technical manager
        • Senior peer with some mgmt. responsibility
        • Always available to help with:
          • Architecture/design decisions
          • Day to day coding problems
          • Creates good balance of power – not all responsibility in one person
      • Can also designate Senior Technical Architect as well, if desired
      • Make sure development team always has the big picture of:
        • What’s going on currently
        • What’s coming
        • Bring in Biz Mgmt at least 1-2X month / Product Design more frequently
      • Build a strong sense of Team
      • Encourage collaboration
        • Important for good design
        • Pair programming at times
        • Especially important in remote environments
        • Make sure not in silo mode!!!  !!!Critical In Remote Team Setting!!!
      • Avoid “false economy“ metrics
        • Mistake of key value only based on speed of delivering new feature
        • Encourage taking time for proper design and testing
          • Minimizes bugs which cost much more time/resources later
      • Use proper communication
        • Respectful
        • Positive re-enforcement
      • Create a positive inspiring environment that is fun
        • Even at times when hard work is needed
      • Effective Use of Awards/Prizes for Achievement
        • Increased productivity/ quality greatly outweighs minimal financial cost
      • Encourage innovation
      • Maintain work/life balance
  • Have Good Agile Project Management Practices
    • Clear picture of how work is progressing
    • Enthusiasm to accomplish Burndown targets
    • Communication = Good Feeback Loops
  • Open up transparent and documented lines of communication
    • Anyone in the company should be able to see all requirements for every feature in a detailed and clear way any time
    • Require the product design process to create more detailed requirements that are documented
      • These need to be updated/iterated/captured  through every step of the development process
      • Good tools/communications make it easier and build the team
  • In respect and communication, keep as figuratively “flat” and as “warm” an org chart as possible
    • Anyone in the company can and does feel comfortable to talk to anyone and does
    • Especially important in remote development environments
  • This isn’t rocket science!, been done many times before, just need to know how
  • Small tweaks often lead to big gains and long-term success!

 

Would love to hear your thoughts regarding thes subjects whether based on your experiences in remote agile teams or ones centrally located!