Global Agile Development: How Investing in the Right Team Impacts Long-Term Rewards


is not easy. Some managers of Global Agile teams administer personality assessment tools in order to supplement their interview process. Specific traits are important to ensure team members have effective communication skills and are assertive in their approach. Recruiting technical employees that have the right mind-set to adopt the Agile way of working (self-driven rather than command driven, voices his or her opinion, etc.) can ensure an effective Agile team. Given the challenges in getting seasoned quot;Agilists,quot; it is prudent to invest in Agile process and philosophy training. The training program also helps weed out individuals who want to work in a Global Agile environment versus those who are just looking for a job and tolerate Agile as part of staying employed.

Team Collaboration
Agile, by its very nature, is much more of a democratic and collaborative process.
Generally speaking, Agile teams, whether in a single geography or multiple geographies, are highly self-directed and rely on trust between the members of the team. The most important element in building trust is a series of positive experiences. The more any team member delivers effective results, the more that the other members will trust him to continue to deliver. In that same sense, if a team member is not carrying his own weight on a project, it is very easy to notice and take corrective action. Agile teams are more about team responsibility, rather than individual responsibility. Therefore, the team's quot;weakest linkquot; will surface much faster in an Agile environment.

In managing a Global Agile team, it is also important to build an atmosphere of respect and camaraderie. The more the team members know each other, the tighter the team will be. For most of our clients, instant messaging, regular conference calls, personal wikis, and other collaborative tools work very well and are necessary to close the distance between teams that are not co-located.

Some companies even employ Agile processes to kick off engagements and knowledge transfer efforts. In another client example, the initial ramp up for the offshore team was done using an Agile Scrum approach. This was done in two week sprints - there was a sprint to transfer knowledge about the product itself, another sprint to transfer knowledge about the technology stack use in the product and another to go over the client's development processes. At the end of the second week, the team members demonstrated their learning by solving the mock issues/scenarios given to them. Using the above approach, the Scrum teams ramped up quickly on technical areas as well as the client's Scrum process. The added benefit is that they gained the onshore team's confidence quicker, and built a strong cross-team relationship with this kind of interactive ramp up process.

Although there are no set titles in an Agile environment, the Scrum Master holds a very important role on the team. This position mentors the rest of the team, quot;managesquot; the Agile processes and goals, and helps to set timelines and metrics for the team to work toward. The Scrum Master provides the right kind of visibility to management but also raises awareness of the challenges that may have an impact on deliverables. The position of the Scrum Master can be permanent or filled on a rotation basis. Rotating leadership is another great method that we employ to break down the cultural and organization barriers in a Global Agile environment. It also has an energizing impact on all the other members of the team who might not otherwise have a chance at leadership in a typical hierarchical structure.

Scrum Masters set the

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