Remote working agile teams: Mission Impossible?

„Nowadays worldwide pandemic situation makes every business teams’ cooperation harder, but one could expect that it is especially impossible for agile teams whose work-model supposed to be co-located. This perception reminded me of a presentation from last year’s European Scaled Agile Summit which had a conclusion, that digital agile teamwork is not necessarily worse than the co-located ones, as long as they accept the peculiarities of it and prepare for them.

Let me use one of our concrete examples to prove it. After just having one of our biggest projects recently, our agile team has decided to conduct a final “Inspect and Adapt” workshop (also known as “retrospective” or “lessons learnt”) with remote tools.

We used three types of tools: an office collaboration software, an agile system plus a virtual board tool (as most agile software intentionally don’t cover specific team agility techniques leaving it to best-of-breed tools).

First of all, we have decided to do a plenary SWOT analysis since there was quite a long project period we needed to cover, with a lot of issues to discuss and prioritize.

Then we continued in break-out rooms with root-cause analysis of selected issues using Fishbone technique.

For both we found ready-made chart templates in tools, which allow modification of charts simultaneously by multiple users. For the break-out sessions we needed to create multiple meeting invitations in our collaboration tool, further we needed to move in and out with discipline to keep timeboxes and avoid chaos.

As the final output of the root-cause analysis, actions were defined for the most pressing items of improvement. These actions are then best handled as part of the operative Kanban/Scrumban board of the team, which also has to be digital these days. This function is available in most fashionable team agility tools but in case of our team of teams setting we wanted to prioritize them together among other strategic priorities. Therefore, we found it better to use tools which help to coordinate on multiple dimensions. The SAFe module of ServiceNow or CA Rally (as well a newly acquired module of Jira) tools connect Tasks and Stories to Features which may be assigned to/ funded by strategic portfolios thus they maintain next periods product development priorities.

If you are interested in more details of scaled agile tools, then stay tuned for some of our next short webinars.”

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