It’s unrealistic to think that your developers or project team members can be creative if they are tasked to be as close to 100 percent utilization as possible. For agile to truly work, IT groups, CIOs, PMO directors, and development managers must rethink the utilization issue and figure out ways to reward the creative process and the research aspect rather than reward the billable hours concept. Sticking to the old 100 percent rule will lead to adoption failure for agile practices.
Remote Versus Collocation
The remote team concept is one that I’d like to explore further. Everything presented during Angel’s session encouraged collocation of agile team members in order to promote creativity and collaboration. I can understand that. The question is, can agile methods work on a project where team members may never meet face to face for the entire engagement?
We must embrace reality here. In 2012 and beyond, organizations are using IT and project teams built with team members dispersed across the country and around the world. I personally have only managed one project in the past six years where nearly all of my team members were located in the same building. Most projects have involved members two thousand miles away or on the other side of the globe. Some specific management challenges to consider are:
- How well do agile processes translate into the remote project and development team model?
- Can the cohesive rapid development and rollout happen successfully when no one on the project team is located in the same building?
- Is the manager’s role compromised in the remote agile project management scenario? Can he still be the facilitator that he needs to be?
- Will team member creativity take a hit with resources located so far from each other? And if so, what can the manager do to help overcome this and other issues caused by the distance barrier?
What are your thoughts and experiences? I would appreciate reader feedback on agile successes and failures, particularly on the use of agile methods when teams are geographically dispersed.
In order to successfully adopt agile processes, staff managers and project managers must understand the need to take on different roles—enablers more than leaders, facilitators more than managers. They must be educated or the process won’t work for long. If an organization is going to be successful in adopting agile, then staff members need to properly understand their role and that starts with the organizational leaders understanding how to relinquish some control and focus on helping the team experience success.
Managers must understand that agile team members need time to be creative and, therefore, throw out the full utilization model, even though it’s so hard for executive management to let go of. I still have concerns about remote teams and their success in the agile model. But remote teams are a way of life in today’s IT and project management environment—adaptation is definitely a two-way street.