AgileSoftware Development

How to manage distributed teams using Agile methodologies

When a company outsources to a different geography, it usually encounters numerous challenges.  This problems range from cultural-communication barriers, problems in project planning, different time zones to trust issues in project implementations.  Over the years managerial faction has evolved and resolved to use of various Agile methodologies, these methods originated from manufacturing community but has since been integrated in other business communities.


Assuming that the distributed team consists of vendors who are spread across various geographical areas, this sometimes leads to increase in trust issues that are usually present in all companies. Trust issues usually come from poor communication between team and this can limit productivity. Making of an informal agreement with vendors goes a long way in reducing this trust issues.  Making someone feel like a partner ensures that communication in the management hierarchy is at its best. With this kind of communication a company is set to flourish, in addition, management of spread out teams can be achieved through use of distributed team models. These models eliminate dependencies among teams. This method creates clear cut work to each team, for instance, quality assurance may be done in Costa Rica and development may occur in USA, requirements may be generated from one geographical area and development in another area, this means that teams will work independently hence eliminating cultural-communication barrier. Another model of management is where team leaders meet more regularly from all locations. This can be achieved by using modern day video conferencing. This makes the teams to feel more co-equals in the process of development, eliminating various disparities in work styles.


Alternatively, Scrum can be used to manage distributed teams. In Scrum, after completion of project designs the development process is divided into iterations known as sprints. The managerial faction only concentrates on managing sprints which is a lot easier than managing the project as whole. The team performance is evaluated by each iteration. Scrum not only improves the management but also plays a big role in successful product development. The management can easily follow each sprint through use of burn down charts which are updated daily and shows work remaining in each iteration. Apart from use of burn down charts management may resolve to use of burn down graphs. Burns down graphs are similar to burn down charts but instead of indicating the work remaining in a sprint they show daily project progress. By use of daily stand up scrum meetings the management of these teams is made easier, because Scrum Masters are supposed submit their project reports during meetings. This kind of meeting takes only 15 minutes on average allowing Scrum Masters to spend enough time managing their teams. This fosters communication between the managerial team and the development team. This is probably the easiest Agile method to manage a distributed team. This method works best when integrated with XP development strategies for software development. Although this method has proved to be effective, it requires discipline and sticking to iterations.

According to “Conway’s law” work should not distributed in respect to geographical orientation. This is because it eventually leads to an architecture reflecting the team’s geographical distribution resulting to overspecialization over different locations and it may pose a serious managerial problem. As a result of this problem the management has evolved and implemented yet another Agile method to effectively monitor distributed teams. This method is achieved by avoiding dividing teams horizontally, for instance avoiding dividing database management team from presentation team. To effectively manage this kind of teams, it is advisable to separate them by layer modules that are loosely coupled as possible. This owes to the fact that work must be distributed regardless of geographical divides.


Though these methods have proved to improve the management of spread out teams, they also have they limitations. They require precise implementation and also the backup of traditional documentation methods. The choice of these methods depends on development method in play.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *