Agile is a mindset and a set of behaviors that strives to deliver business value faster. It achieves this by deploying people, processes, and tools that continuously optimize themselves for higher business value and sustainable velocity. It helps you compete with businesses that were born as digital-natives and helps you respond to customer’s changing needs in a timely manner.
Embracing Agile within your organization means adopting it for all your teams, whether they’re co-located or distributed. Doing one without the other will disrupt your business instead of helping you disrupt the market with your products and services.
The changing dynamics of today’s workforce has made working with distributed teams even more important, as business know-how and critical talent is spread across global locations.
In order to successfully realize location-independent Agile, you must first assess the organization and choose the right location model. It’s important that you assess this for each team and project separately since every situation is different and requires a different strategy. Factors such as where the business knowledge is needed and where it resides, whether the work is urgent or has non-negotiable constraints, and the maturity of the organization’s Agile development processes play a role in how you implement your location-independent Agile team model.
Assessment and choosing the right model for location-independent Agile
In order to understand the needs of your organization and its endeavors, ask yourself three questions:
What is the level of business expertise and other skills required, and to what extent do they exist at a specific location? To support Agile teams, locations must possess a certain level of business expertise – else, you’ll be setting them up for failure from the get go. However, as team members accumulate experience and build business knowledge in a focused manner, they will be able to work as a distributed organization, and by extension, as location-independent teams.
How urgent and volatile is the work? Avoid allocating work that is urgent or volatile to distributed Agile teams at the outset. Projects that require overnight fixes, or might involve intra-day scope changes are best handled through co-located teams, at least till location-independent teams are more mature.
How mature is the organization? When teams are relatively new to Agile approaches, team members should be co-located. Doing so allows them a chance to gain a common understanding of Agile culture which translates into success in the future.
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have a better idea of how to move forward and organize your Agile teams. Depending on the need for business knowledge at distributed location, the nature and criticality of effort required, and your organization’s experience with Agile methods, you could choose a local model, a minimally distributed model, a significantly distributed model or a fully distributed model.
If you’d like to learn more about building location-independent Agile teams, the difference between each location-independent Agile model and how they impact your business, read my article How to Make Location-Independent Agile Work.
About the author(s)
K. Subramanian (Subra) is the Head of Delivery Excellence at TCS. In his role, he owns Delivery Quality, Customer Advocacy, Methodologies, Knowledge Management, Estimation and Continuous Performance Improvement. His team orchestrates the TCS Agile transformation initiative.