Key Problems of Distributed Agile Development and How You Can Solve Them

It’s no secret that Agile software is fast becoming the dominant force in the software development community, with more companies adopting the Agile philosophy every day. If, however, you are a company that outsources development duties to programmers overseas, Agile’s core tenets (face-to-face communication, understanding, trust) can be tricky to enforce. As a result, many companies who rely on outsourcing may believe Agile software development is something that they can’t take advantage of.

Approached with a little forethought and careful planning, however, Agile software development can transcend different time zones, language barriers, and cultural differences, and bring your teams together.

Below we’ve outlined some of the difficulties you may face, as well as advice on how to overcome them.

Differences in Distance and Time Can Sabotage Your Communications

One of the key benefits of Agile is the flexibility it grants developers, giving them the resources to complete their work faster and with more efficiency. Normal development is often hampered by bureaucracy; messaging becomes confused, and costly mistakes are made. Agile software, on the other hand, skips all that red-tape and places a focus on face-to-face interactions. Regular meetings are important, especially to ensure all team members are working from the same page, and are aware of any changes or updates. This also gives team members a chance to air their concerns, seek clarification or find the answers to important questions.

Keeping all your teams working in harmony can be difficult. This is especially true if you have multiple offices working from different locations around the globe. In most cases, communication is handled exclusively via email or chat, with little to no face-to-face interaction; something that can quickly cause problems. This is particularly true if you have offices in different parts of the globe, as the teams’ working hours will rarely sync with one another.

How Can You Solve This Problem?

To solve this issue, ensure each of your teams is outfitted with a suite of video conferencing tools, as well as the capabilities to share Sprint plans and other information over the internet. Email and chat may be useful in a pinch, but they lack that personal touch a video conference, or face-to-face meeting confers. What is more, video meetings feel easier, more natural, and help foster a sense of trust. They also help avoid costly misunderstandings.

Cultural Differences May Stall Discussion

One of the key benefits of internet communications is that they give businesses the power to interact with people and companies from all over the globe. Sometimes, however, this can lead to misunderstandings. Organisations in the Far East, for example, conduct their business in a very formal, structured fashion, and don’t appreciate criticism or feedback during a discussion, unlike their Western counterparts who are encouraged to be vociferous and give voice to their concerns. Agile development thrives on the free exchange of opinions, though, so cultural obstacles are something you have to overcome.

How Can You Solve This Problem?

Actively encourage their participation, ask them for ideas and feedback, explaining to your various coding teams how important their suggestions are. Take the time and effort to address their concerns, carefully responding to each question and criticism.

Lack of Trust Between Teams In-House and Offshore

If you have teams on opposite ends of the globe who have never met, getting them to place their trust in one another is going to be difficult. This can be a stumbling block for Agile development, which thrives on trust between teams. As a result of this lack of communication, teams often feel isolated and left out of the bigger picture.

How Can You Solve This Problem?

In order to build trust and a sense of camaraderie between far flung teams, concentrate on bringing them together. Institute an exchange program, so that team members can spend time in their colleague’s shoes, getting to know their remote partners and discovering how their offices operate. Foster a sense of belonging and community by encouraging them to socialise, explore each others’ interests and cultural differences outside of normal hours.

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