The Three C's of Distributed Scrum Teams: Communications, Communications, Communications

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such that the critical duration seems to hover around the magic eight to 12 weeks throughout the project life cycle. This is the duration at which visits from offshore team to onshore will have the maximum positive effect.

In our experience, teams need a structured approach for periodic visits by the offshore members to the onshore location, to meet with the key onshore team members as well as the business users. The roles that need to visit must be carefully determined in view of the nature of the project. In general, though, the project manager, the offshore technical team lead (or designer point-person), and the test team lead are the main roles that must visit the client at suitable designated frequencies.

Depending on the nature of the project, the release manager may be another role that might add value to these visits. Facilitated by the onshore team members, offshore visitors tend to assimilate rather well and quickly into the overall project team. In our experience, cultural aspects have not been a negative factor during these visits.

Planned in advance, the budgetary impact of these visits is relatively low. Typically, less than one percent of the project budget is needed to fly key team members from the offshore to the onshore sites. There may be a need for onshore team members to visit the offshore teams–or example, when the onshore teams are engaging in a distributed team model for the first time. These visits go a long way in avoiding later interpersonal frustrations (e.g., "I can't understand how 'they' can mess up such a simple thing" that take so much of time to resolve later.

In this article, we have discussed how a Scrum process can successfully be applied in a distributed manner. Some key principles must be applied to cause a good chance for success. In the end, it comes down to the 3C#39;s: communicate, communicate, and communicate. From what we have seen and experienced, Thomas Friedman is right, the "World is Flat."


About the Authors
Steve Mahoney, CTO at CEI, has over 17 years experience working in all facets of the software development lifecycle and software/consulting company business processes. Steve has been with CEI since 1999.He leads strategic technology briefings, workshops and engagements for executives and he is responsible for architecture definition and scoping on professional services engagements and working with field-level strategic consultants.

Chuck Fredrick, CTO of Douglas County, CO Government. Chuck has 14+ years experience in Software Engineering, leading all functions of the software development process using a variety of development methodologies. Chuck joined Douglas County, CO government in January 2006, and serves as the Chief Technology Officer, where he has responsibility for Enterprise Architecture, Software Engineering, Quality Assurance, and technical strategy.

Sudhir Chanpuriya has over 14 years of experience in software projects across the full spectrum ofSDLC. He is currently working with CEI as a Senior Project Manager. Previously, Sudhir worked as Assistant General Manager (IT) for Reserve Bank of India, later moving on to project management positions in software services companies. He has extensive experience in managing small to large projects, especially those operating under geographically distributed model, using Agile as well as traditional methodologies.

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