Scrum Success in a Distributed Team Environment

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reasons for working with a distributed team include:

  • The flexibility to decrease or increase team size without losing any essential information that is required to complete a project.
  • The ability to recreate a successful system for when the need arises for additional products.

The Communication Factor

One of the biggest challenges to overcome when implementing Scrum within a distributed team environment is that of communication. As you may be aware, within a formal Scrum environment, everyday person-to-person conversation is a valued part of the process. Consequently, it is important to have that face-to-face time during vital points in the project - such as the beginning, planning phase of the project. At this time, all of the team members can get acquainted with one another – especially if off-hours social events are planned as well. As a result of working directly with one another, a sense of cohesiveness can develop toward becoming peers as well.

This interaction is important as it does not allow the development of an "us versus them" situation. Instead, the team can truly bond, and work towards achieving the same shared goals.

Although communication may be the biggest concern, within SoftServe's distributed teams, teamwork comes first. As a direct consequence, the Scrum team shares the responsibility of what the team produces. In fact, the team takes pride in the fact that they like to be proud of what they produce. As a result, the team embraces tools and works together to achieve their particular end goals.

Moreover, the culture within the company ensures that individuals show a sense of ownership and a commitment to their respective teams. In fact, there is a peer pressure of sorts for team members to perform optimally.

Communication Technology Tools

Of course, all distributed team members should have access to the appropriate communication tools as technology is essential to breaking down the more tangible communication barriers. For instance, video conferencing, web cams, and hands-free headsets are especially helpful. Instant messaging software, desktop sharing software and email are also important communication tools.

Overall then, effective scrum implementation - and quality product results - can take place within a distributed team environment. To achieve a sense of ownership among all of the team members, it is vital to focus on relationship building and establishing shared goals first – and the appropriate communication practices and results will follow.


About the Author
Feyza O’Connell is the Vice President, Business Development, at SoftServe ( www.softserveinc.com), a global company providing commercial software product design, development, testing and lifecycle services to Independent Software Vendors and building foundational strategic technologies for enterprise clients. She held several key roles in leading IT technology companies and her 20 years of experience in bringing the best solutions to clients encompasses hardware, software and services. Feyza holds a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from Istanbul Technical University and an MBA from Simmons School of Management.

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