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Distributed Agile: Signs of effective collaboration

Posted on: 21 January '13

In the IT industry, we have seen a gradual increase in the availability and advancement of hardware and software tools that promote collaboration among geographically distributed teams. This evolution in toolsets for collaboration among geographically distributed teams has come a long way, but measuring the effectiveness of collaboration has remained equally complex. I have noticed that a practical approach to understanding the effectiveness of collaboration in distributed agile teams is to observe the signs that matter the most. Let me share some of them here.

Signs of effective collaboration

  1. Focus on Backlog Grooming – Collaborative teams practice backlog grooming to include groomed user stories in sprint planning.
  2. Articulating the Definition of Ready – To augment the result of backlog grooming, they collectively articulate the definition of ready.
  3. Clear Acceptance Criteria – Collaborative teams strive to have clear acceptance criteria so that they have only one interpretation of ‘Done’ for each user story.
  4. Efficient Resolution of Queries and Issues – Collaborative teams are not only proactive but also responsive.
  5. Candid and Timely Feedback – Collaborative teams are candid and timely when it comes to sharing feedback, ideas, suggestions, appreciations, etc.
  6. Productive Retrospectives – Collaborative teams work together to make retrospectives powerful in order to assure meaningful actions for continuous improvement.

Successful distributed teams have one prime factor in common. It is collaborative spirit! While collaborative spirit is essential for all project teams in general, the challenges of distributed agile teams necessitate the continuous existence of this spirit at all times, right from the early stages of projects in order to ensure successful product releases.

Collaborative spirit boosts communication and coordination. With collaborative spirit, team members learn faster, improve soft skills and foster mutual respect. Collaborative spirit is contagious and it enables project teams go beyond the pre-defined set of ceremonies prescribed by methodologies. This is when teams identify processes that serve the purpose, and thereby maximize the value delivered to customers.

What else have you observed in collaborative teams? Let us discuss.

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  • Deepak

    Another sign of effective distributed agile teams,
    – being synchronized and on the same page.
    – Work together, yet not be dependent on another team (especially with extreme time difference).
    – Usage of the e-board diligently!

    • Deepak, Good point! Being synchronized with a common vision, having the same level of understanding on user stories, technical issues, etc., and working together as a team are key factors that enable team members in becoming self-sufficient in each location. Well said! Thanks for commenting!