Sunday, November 23, 2008

Agile Project Management for Globally Distributed Teams

What’s the perfect Agile team size? The typical Scrum team size is 5-7 people in one location with a dedicated product owner. This model has been proven out time after time. However, expand the team to 4 project managers, 50 people around the world, three different outsource vendors, three different languages, umpteen time-zones, a multitude of contractors, a team of product owners and you have a challenge. Standard, by the book Scrum will not work and we already know by experience that waterfall does not work.

What to do? Pick the best out of multiple project management methodologies and tailor a process that works for you. The goals are still the same, fast development, customer involvement, frequent feedback, and reduced waste. I’ve seen lots of experts write about standard scrum in small teams. I don’t see much written about large agile teams.

Scrum, What works for Globally Distributed Teams

  • User Stories
  • Short Sprints
  • Test automation
  • A commercial web based Agile PM tool
  • Burn down charts
  • Multiple Scrum Masters
  • Customer involvement
  • Prioritized product backlog
  • Scrum of Scrums

Scrum, What does not work for Globally Distributed Teams:

  • Daily standup meetings for the entire team
  • A single product owner
  • Sticky notes for user stories
  • Developers adding tasks

Things to try: (I have and it works)

  • A product owner team
  • Three sprints per user story
    • User story definition
    • User story development
    • User story QA/Test Automation/UAT
  • Dedicated System Architects
  • Multiple Project Managers - Scrum Masters
  • Predefined tasks per user stories
  • Multiple interacting scrum teams
  • Be flexible with your approach


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