Distributed Agile Teams White Paper Review

ProjectsatWork has published a study called Distributed Agile Teams: Achieving the Benefits. The report was put together by Elizabeth Harrin (@PM4Girls), who is the author of the website A Girls Guide to Project Management. The results of the research cover a lot of ground with respect to what makes distributed Agile projects work and what can contribute to their failure.  The report is very insightful and definitely worth the time it takes to read. While some of the findings may seem like common sense, knowledge workers in the IT space (myself definitely included) seem to possess a remarkable capacity for periodic loss of grip to that tether.

My favorite part comes at the very end during the summary of recommendations. Number One on the list is:

Don’t act like your project is co-located – pay the tax for distribution.

This is one of the most simple things that so many of us forget when we are working at a distance. I believe this applies whether you are working down the hall from someone, or across the globe… there is a price that has to be paid when you are not sitting in the same room. With the transparency that Agile offers, this tax becomes far more obvious. There is no doubt that distributed teams provide a number of benefits, but those benefits come at a cost. The reason (IMHO) so many people struggle so much with distributed is that they keep thinking that the ride is free … which it theoretically could be… unless you actually want it to work.


Agile 2010 Presentation Recap and Retrospective

Thushara Wijewardena and I have had a great response to our Agile 2010
presentation, “Why You Suck at Offshoring, Even with Agile“. In an effort to respond to some of the requests we have received, we put together a video recap of our presentation along with a retrospective. The video is broken up into two segments because of the size. Please let us know what you think. Continue reading

Offshoring and the Technology Gap

Agile_2010_Badge_TemplateNext week I’ll be co-presenting at the Agile 2010 conference in Orlando, Florida with Thushara Wijewardena. Our presentation is called “Why you suck at off shoring, even with Agile”. The plan is to discuss and debate some of the issues people run into when they are doing offshore projects. Thushara, who lives in Sri Lanka, will be covering the offshore side and I’ll be handling onshore. We’ve both got a fair bit of experience in the area, but in order to make sure we’d covered all our bases, we interviewed a number of people to get their take on it. Heading into it, I felt pretty confident, based on my experience, that the majority of the difficulties that onshore managers and teams struggle with are brought about by their own approach and an assumption that offshore must learn to adapt to the onshore way of working. My basic argument was that the onshore teams really had to find a better way to adapt how they approached working with an offshore team if they really wanted to get the most out of them. Working with teams spread across the globe, in different time zones, from different cultural and educational backgrounds is never easy, but I do believe that the responsibility for enabling the offshore team falls largely on the onshore team’s shoulders. Continue reading