Agile and How It Works with Remote Development Teams
Ever since the 2001 Manifesto for Agile Software Development, Agile methodology has grown to become a significant worldwide movement, extending way beyond conventional in-house software development. Today, it is mostly considered the only way a company can contend with the ever-unpredictable client-driven marketplace.
Being a preferred approach to projects among many companies in the world, Agile has since become a work strategy provided by remote development teams. Therefore, going Agile with a remote team is now possible for a company or startup located in Israel, the USA, Europe, Australia, etc.
Newxel, an out-staffing company in Ukraine, is an excellent example of a vendor that builds and maintains required Agile development teams for business organizations. Moreover, it enables companies from other parts of the globe to open their own R&D centers in Ukraine.
That said, in this article, we define Agile software dev and examine this strategy as a way of managing development teams. Moreover, we look at how Agile can be implemented in offshore dev teams and steps for building an offshore team for Agile development.
What Is Agile Software Development?
Agile software development refers to several strategies of software dev based on iterative development. Under this model, specifications and products evolve via cooperation between self-organizing and cross-functional teams, as well as their clients.
Agile processes promote adaptive planning, evolving development, quick availing of solutions, and ongoing enhancement of solutions. Furthermore, they encourage speedy and adjustable reactions to emerging issues.
Agile development refers to all processes that conform to the Agile mindset, values, and principles, as stipulated in the 2001 manifesto.
Agile Development Values
The Agile manifesto was published back in 2001 by seventeen leading figures in the software industry. All of them agreed on the following values to be characteristic of any Agile software dev process:
- People and cooperation over methods and tools
- Functional software over detailed documentation
- Client collaboration over the negotiating of contracts
- Addressing changes over sticking to a specific plan
If you are more of a visual learner, below is an image illustrating the Agile values of software development. Check it out to get a better idea of the Agile values.
Agile Product Development Principles
The manifesto for Agile development of software is based on 12 principles. Check out the image below to see all of them.
Agile Software Development Methodologies
Agile development approaches work well with almost the entire software development cycle. That said, let’s cover some typical Agile development frameworks.
The Agile Scrum Methodology
Scrum is a subclass of Agile that depends on a self-organizing, cross-functional department. To expand on that statement, the dev team is self-organizing because there’s no overall leader who chooses the person performing a specific task or decides how an issue will be addressed. The entire team handles both of these matters.
Moving on, the team is cross-functional since every member has to contribute something at each stage, right from idea formulation to implementation. Scrum ensures this through daily stand up meetings aimed at ascertaining that each member is on the same page.
It is a lean method of managing and enhancing work on various human systems. This methodology intends to handle work by striking a balance between demand and existing capacity. Moreover, it achieves this by streamlining the handling of system-level hold-ups.
Now other than these two, Dynamic systems development method, XP (Extreme programming), Lean startup, and Scrumban are among other Agile frameworks.
Agile as a Methodology for Managing a Development Team
Agile is an excellent strategy for managing software development teams. For one, it allows for better coordination among members by eliminating rigid hierarchical structures and replacing them with more dynamic networks of interlocking units.
Apart from that, Agile makes it possible to maintain continuous learning. See, under this method of operation, team members get useful feedback from managers daily or several times a week. In turn, this ensures that employees are versatile and innovative in the face of unpredictable challenges.
How Agile Can Be Implemented in Offshore Development Teams
Today, many firms prefer to source their software development needs offshore. Hiring dedicated development teams from nearshore or offshore locations has helped many companies to save time, cut down on expenses, and improve product development. In addition to many benefits, it does also present a new set of team management challenges.
The success of offshore development teams substantially lies in implementing a proper management system. And Agile approaches have proven to be effective in producing excellent results through collaborative efforts. But Agile software development is rarely outsourced because of the perceived complexity of managing geographically distributed teams.
However, it is possible to make Agile and offshore software development work together. When the two are blended in the right way, an offshore Agile team can achieve spectacular results.
Best Agile Strategies for Managing Remote Teams
For Agile approaches to work with an offshore team, some best practices must be followed. Here are some of them.
Create Working Standards Beforehand
Before you begin implementing Agile in your remote team, it’s important to be prepared in advance. That is, lay the ground rules first. Ensure that everyone involved knows the standards, tools, and techniques that they’ll be using in the communication and the development procedure itself.
Set Up Three or More Communication Modes Early
An offshore Agile group ought to have a variety of communication channels to cater for different issues. Quick questions, for instance, can be answered via instant message. Calls can be used for more extensive discussions and for clearing out misunderstandings. Video conferencing is a great way to make presentations, give lectures, and hold meetings. Don’t rely on one form of communication but instead set up multiple channels.
Schedule Regular Status Update Meetings
One standout quality about Agile is an emphasis on short status meetings every so often. These meetings are crucial in coordinating remote teams too. They can be conducted via conference calls. Of course, everyone should agree on a suitable time for such meetings.
Account for Time Zone Variations
If, for instance, you are in the US, and the offshore team is located in Ukraine, expect a huge difference in time. Therefore, it is difficult to have real-time communication. Find an overlap in the time zone to catch up with the team so that projects aren’t delayed due to late communication.
Implement Continuous Integration
One of the biggest challenges about distributed teams is software integration. Even if everything is well-defined during the development process, issues may still occur when putting together the product. So, insist on continuous integrations so that problems can be detected and dealt with early.
Find an Accessible Method of Store Common Info
There should be a data center where common things like product requirements, development guidelines, and progress reports can be shared and stored to make collaboration easier for remote teams using Agile. A wiki is an excellent suggestion as it can be easily accessed by everyone from the team through a browser.
Come Up with Your Own Hybrid System
A remote team will have a unique set of conditions. So, Agile methodology may not work 100%. In this case, consider coming up with a hybrid system that allows you to meet in the middle. You could, for instance, send members from each site to other sites temporarily to boost cohesion within the team.
Steps for Building an Offshore Team for Agile Development
Do you want to build an offshore development team that utilizes Agile techniques? Consider these tips to keep you on the desirable track:
- Select an ideal partner
A good offshore staffing partner is worth their weight in gold. Most of all, they should understand how Agile works and have an impressive track record.
- Begin with a small Agile team structure
Start small and build your way up. A small team will be easier to manage and will give you time to figure out how to build a productive working relationship.
- Arrange contact visits
Facilitating contact visits, mainly in the initial stages of the project, can help the team members to connect and build trust. Identify joints work activities that can be performed during these visits.
- Train the team on-site
Invest in training the offshore team in the beginning. That way, they will better understand the customer’s expectations and how they are going to work.
- Manage the team actively
While Agile is supposed to eliminate a hierarchical management model, you’ll need to be involved in management if you are working with an offshore development group. Find a good project manager to act as the link between your business and the developers.
Putting It All Together
As you can see, an Agile approach can work with offshore software teams. Extreme programming and Agile software development methodologies can be great for managing offshore development teams as they offer increased flexibility, collaboration, and consistency needed to create better quality products. If you are ready to build your dedicated development team in Ukraine, contact Newxel for expert help.