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Distributed Agile December 4, 2009

Posted by yvettefrancino in Management.
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Last night I ended my post about Telecommuting asking whether it was necessary to be collocated to properly execute an Agile development project.  I heard back from both Michael Kelly and Matt Heusser, two industry leaders, saying that they work in agile environments where at least part of the team (if not all of the team) telecommute.

By major coincidence, the first article I saw this morning was a StickyMinds article on — you guessed it — Distributed Agile!  Viswanath Nagaraj from ThoughtWorks is interviewed. As Nagaraj points out, most companies these days have distributed teams of one sort or another.  When you get into globally distributed teams, complexity increases as you have to deal with issues of communication, time zones, cultures, and language.  Nagaraj says in a distributed environment it’s important to address three key elements: people, process, and technology.  He mentioned some of the tools put out by ThoughtWorks meant to work in a distributed agile environment:  Mingle -a Project Management and Collaboration Tool, Cruise – a Continuous Integration and Release Management System Tool, and Twist – a Functional Automation Test Tool.

I read this article with great interest because I had been thinking that “distributed agile” would be a great niche area to for me to gain expertise and do some consulting work.  It seems everyone wants to “go agile” but they have distributed teams.  With the proper processes and technologies, I could help them set up a “distributed agile” environment. 

Doing a little more exploring, I came upon an old article about a seminar given by Martin Fowler, Chief Scientist from ThoughtWorks.

The engaging session challenged many of the longstanding principles of being a technical leader and stressed the extensive communications and collaborative skills required. It must have made many of our IT pros realise that being articulate matters as much as having brains.

Communication and collaboration — these are the two attributes I’ve been saying all along are so important for an effective project, regardless of your methodology.  It is tough to have effective communication and collaboration when your spread all over the world, but it is possible! And personally, I think the added challenge just makes it all the more fun.

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