Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness
This post is a summary of my lessons learned from leading distributed teams. I've managed distributed project teams since 2001, spanning the UK, Argentina, India, and other parts of the world. While I preferred having everybody together on site around a whiteboard to simplify and improve communication, flexibility with distributed teams gave me access to the right talent, wherever it may be.
Key Challenges These are some of the most common challenges I faced:
Distance didn’t matter as much as differences in time zones. If the time zone differences were too much, it meant a lot more information, knowledge and state had to be packaged up and handed over. However, when you leverage time zone differences, the experience can feel like you carry the baton forward, or, it’s like “The Elves and the Shoemaker,” where you make progress around the clock.
Success Patterns for Distributed Teams The following success patterns helped improve distributed team effectiveness:
No single pattern is a silver bullet. Instead, it’s the composition of these patterns and practices that help improve distributed team communication and overall effectiveness.
Tools of the Trade The following are some common tools of the trade:
What about you? … What have been your best lessons learned when it comes to distributed teamwork?
Thanks, awesome this post. Groove for Linux, an alternative to seeking, learned a tool called iFolder.
It perfectly suits our own team - MCS - as *are* distributed one we do hit exactly the same challenges.
Thanks for sharing. I shared it with our team and it already made ripple effect :) LOL!
Nice post. I am just curios about how you are actually making sure everybody around the distributed teams get access to the user stories? Are you using any web based tool? Also, as a matter of fact, can you share one of your example user stories? I would like to see at what level of detail you actually capture the stories when you plan for the sprint.
You definitely feel the pain.
The simplest way is a tickler list of the stories. We track the stories in a Wiki (but any shared item will do.)
We originally tried pointing a camera at our wall of stories, but it just wasn't as helpful in the long run.
We use the tickler list (simple one-liners) of the stories as a backdrop for conversations and elaboration. The one-liner tickler list helps for tracking and sharing.