Think ‘Agile’ and the associated words that instantly come to mind will most likely include ‘software development’ ‘project delivery’ ‘Scrum’ ‘Kanban’ ’flexible’. The underpinning Agile principles which allow digital teams to quickly and successfully deliver client value in the form of tangible outputs such as a software product, are well established.
These principles tend to operate best within the conditions of a physical space where teams are co-located. Daily ‘stand ups’/‘scrums’, ‘moving tickets’ along a physical Kanban/Scum board are usually indicative of a collaborative environment where teams are easily accessible to each other physically. However with the increase in remote teams operating across geographies, more emphasis is needed to allow for delivery of projects where competencies, language barriers, time zones, priorities and exogenous factors could potentially hinder progress.
As an organisation which leverages the use of remote resources while often delivering projects to clients spanning multiple locations, APEK has established ways of working to ensure that remote teams can work well in delivering client projects. Below are ways in which this has been achieved:
On-boarding is not limited to just delivery resources from the supplier, but also client resources. From successfully communicating the project ambitions from senior stakeholders to facilitating quick access to digital tools and processes which underpin the organisation and project operating model, remotely on-boarding resources onto projects is the first step towards success. Consider, how to do you onboard your resources and clients to a project, how quickly does this occur, what tools and skills are available to these resources to enable them to get up to speed and become utilised quickly? All of these have a bearing on the effectiveness of resources becoming assimilated.
A major component of achieving great remote team working is communication. After all this underpins how information is understood and broadcasted to those who need it. For remote teams operating under Agile principles, collaboration tools provide a strong foundation for these.
Virtual meetings, shared documents, informal communication via instant messaging and visibility across work packages provides continuous opportunities for individuals within the Agile teams to feel connected to the pace of work and change. Resources such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, Trello among others have enabled the ease of progress monitoring, fluid communication and accountability within teams where physical presence is lacking.
Agile promotes ‘self-regulating teams’ meaning that traditional reporting hierarchies disappear. It encourages individuals within the Agile team to hold each other accountable to deliverables and commitments. With physically co-located teams this is easy to enforce. A top on the shoulder, a daily face to face meeting makes it difficult to hide behind excuses or eschew responsibilities. With remote teams, it can be difficult to hold individuals to account given the complexities of time differences, different locations of resources, and in some instances of language complexities.
To address these, some form of reporting structure is required within teams by way of daily ‘round up’ calls, reporting or task escalations within collaboration tools visible to the entire delivery team allow for continuous accountability without need for penalising resources.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but a start in building Agile remote teams who efficiently collaborative and accountable. We would love to hear from you and your teams on how you foster effective collaboration across your remote teams. Get in touch and let us know.