As Clients’ Extended Distributed Team, Here’s How We Run Agile Projects!

A recent report by Computereconomics found that in the 2018/19 period, the application development process has emerged as the one witnessing maximum outsourcing opportunity – with 56% of the organizations around the world outsourcing their development requirements.
How We Work As Our Clients' Extended Distributed Team

The reason behind this heightened demand for outsourcing the mobile app development needs has been the same as always – Lower cost than what would have to be shelled out if employing own country developers, allowing greater focus on the main business, and better service quality.

However, even with outsourcing taking a central place in the application development industry, we have found that there are some common concerns that the clients show when they plan to outsource their software development project outside their geographical nation.

In this article, we will look into how Appinventiv works with offshore clients using the distributed agile development cycle allowing a more connected working process with aligned risk and remuneration model across all.

But before we get on to the part where we tell how we operate as the distributed team of our clients and work so seamlessly that we become their extended in-house tech team, it is important to know what Distributed Agile Team even means.

How To Manage Distributed Teams With Agile Project Management

What Do We Mean by Distributed Agile Team 

A distributed team is a concept used to explain the event where two or more team function across multiple geographical locations instead of one office space or even two office spaces in one city. The distributed agile team relies on digital technologies to interact seamlessly and work together toward the same goal – Timely project delivery.

Why do Businesses Invest in a Mobile App Development Distributed Team?

There are a number of reasons that drive businesses to invest in distributed teams, reasons ranging from:

  1.  The scarcity of skilled developers in their nation
  2.  The need to test the market before an investment is made towards team buildup
  3.  To avail the benefit of the flexible team which can be increased at the time of scaling the app and dissolved when the need ends.

With the definition and the need now attended to, let us now look at how Appinventiv team works as a distributed team of our clients. But before we jump there, let us quickly look at what our typical distributed agile team structure looks like –

Appinventiv Approach to Distributed Agile Development 

Many a time we get a project where the requirement entails us to work in close connection with the clients’ FTEs. In such instances, it becomes very important that we don’t let the distance in thousand miles come between work and that we are able to make changes and take action on developmental process in real time.

How we ensure timely delivery without zero scopes of communication lag and misunderstanding is a question whose answer lies in Distributed Agile Methodology.

Fit with both small-scale and large-scale businesses, following distributed agile best practices comes in very handy when we have to work alongside a team that is sitting in some other geographical location with an absolutely different time zone.

Let us look at the Distributed Agile Development Method we apply in our mobile app development process.

Reasons Why We Trust Agile For Our App Development Process

After we have introduced all the team members with each other and have collaborated the project management software, the actual work starts.

We formulate the process of daily agile scrum methodology. While in its traditional sense, Scrum requires face to face standup meeting of 15 mins where every participant shares the status of their tasks and informs the team of the tasks they will be taking up next, it is nearly impossible to follow the same process when half of the team is sitting in some other geographical nation in some other time zone.

What we do to keep the essence of face to face interaction alive in the scrum, is we hold a video call on one decided time, which is suited for everyone in the team working on the project. With the help of screen sharing our Agile Scrum Master runs through virtual sprint backlog with the help of tools like Trello or Jira, enabling every team member to give an update on where the project is headed.

What we have experienced is that it is very important to give all the team members an access to a task tracking platform that is easily accessible and updatable. We also emphasize using a communication platform like Skype or Slack for everyone to share updates or ask their doubts between the two scrum time periods.

Another approach that we follow for daily agile and scrum process is that for every different scrum, we appoint one scrum master. So, every individual teamwork as a separate scrum team with a scrum master and product owner – A process which is also known as Scrum of Scrums.

In this, all the scrum representatives provide an answer to the following questions in the scrum –

  • The work that team has completed since last Scrum of Scrums
  • The work team is planning to do before the next Scrum of Scrums meeting
  • The present blocker that the team is facing
  • The blocker that can lead to another Scrum team.

The method enables all the main individuals working on the project to interact with each other directly, something that always results in dedication from the initiation stage to launch period. This ensures an open, clear, and transparent communication between all the teams, where everyone is given a voice. The process apart from scrum of scrums is the same as what we follow under the typical Agile methodology. But the mere fact that the distance between our team and our clients’ team is miles apart and yet we have to work as seamlessly as possible, has brought a series of learnings that we have driven by the adoption of Distributed Agile. Let us look at what those learnings are –

The Learnings That we Drew by Working on Distributed Agile Development Process

1. Creation of Distributed team is about Building a Culture and Not a Process

What defines the success of a project working under the agile for distributed teams approach is not dependent on how well skilled the team members are, but on how well they are able to work together, the sense of ownership with which they work, and ultimately how closely aligned they are with the goal of the project – something that comes with culture and not a process formation.

2.Only SMART Projects Succeed

When a project has to be completed by a team that is not even in the same country let alone office, it is very important that the goals that you have set for the project follow the SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-framed, concept to the t.

3. There is no Alternate to Online Collaboration Tools

No matter how much it costs you, you will have to rely on online collaboration tools that are real-time and have minimal to zero lags. In terms of finalizing the online project management and communication platforms, you can not in anyway cut slack. You will have to ensure that they are technically capable of handling your requirements.

Now that we have seen the learnings that we have drawn from our extensive working experience as a distributed team, it is time to look at some of the challenges that we came across during the process and how we solved them to become a trusted Distributed Agile App Development Company.

Challenges with Distributed Agile Development Approach and How we Solve Them

1. Difference in Culture

Usually distributed agile software development approach ask for working with teams coming from different cultural backgrounds. This difference causes friction because of different values and figure of speech. Our Solution: We work very closely with the client’s team in the initial few days so that we get accustomed to their between the lines and contexts.

2. A Difference in Time Zones

The crux of distributed agile methodology is teams working out of different geographical nations. In a situation like this, the occurrence of a communication gap emerging because of the time difference is very common. Our Solution: We follow the concept of agile for a distributed team to its core. We fix a time when the teams from all the nations are present and active. To achieve full focus and attention, we ask our teammates to change their office timing on the scrum day, so that they are well slept and attentive.

3. Lack of a Common Idea of ‘Big Picture’

Because of a difference in geographical location, working structure, and policies, there can be a discrepancy in the idea of the Big Picture – the end aim of the mobile app. This difference might cause a lack of interest from some team members and a heightened interest from others. Our Solution: A visioning meeting at the start of the project initiation and a  reminder in every scrum, so that everyone is working towards the same goal.

4. An absence of Code Ownership

The absence of collective code ownership means that no one person owns the code, it is owned by the whole team and so when something goes wrong, the blame game starts. Our Solution: We apply a version control system to check who is working on a code and when and the effect of it. This way, there is complete transparency and honesty in the picture.

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