the team that every one of them is important for the project’s success. In order to utilize the entire team’s time efficiently, it is a best practice to set up the agenda in as much detail as possible.
Strategy #7: Product Owner’s Bandwidth
The product owner’s bandwidth is critical because frequent interactions between distributed teams and the product owner are handicapped due to the limited time available during the overlapping hours. Not only are product owners often the product managers, they are generally juggling multiple teams. The distributed dimension worsens the problem. On the other end, the remote team is blocked and loses precious sprint time while waiting for clarification. To overcome this problem, the idea of a proxy product owner has been used in some projects, where a business analyst or a functional specialist plays the role, which bridges the gap between the team and the product owner.
Two points to keep in mind:
- The proxy product owner should be empowered to make decisions unless those decisions are critical and need the product owner’s nod. Otherwise, the proxy product owner would be considered overhead, since he has to refer to the actual product owner for every decision, which impedes the team’s velocity.
- The proxy product owner is only a “proxy” and never a substitute for the actual product owner. The team should at no point be completely disconnected from the product owner, since this can result in reduced accountability at the product owner’s end.
While these are some of the major challenges faced in most distributed agile projects, there could be factors specific to a particular project dictated by the project’s characteristics. The seven strategies listed in this article can help mitigate the major and most common challenges; however, distributed agile teams should also be cognizant of certain factors that could be specific to their project and work out ways to handle them. For example, consider the case of a distributed team that has not set up a local development environment due to security restrictions. Clearly, in order for the team to succeed, it must adopt the seven strategies detailed above and also have a dedicated, good-quality line for accessing their development environment located in a remote geography.
Though it is true that collocation is best for adopting agile, distributed teams should not be demotivated due to this fact and refrain from adopting agile. Teams should identify the scenarios that could hamper their agility in a distributed manner and work out strategies to handle them in the best possible manner.