This post discusses why adoption of agile methodology has become important for organizations, what challenges are faced by remote teams in implementing agile software development, and what are the best practices for agile offshore software development.
Agile software development refers to a set of practices and methods based on iterative and incremental development, where requirements and solutions to problems evolve through effective collaboration between self-organizing and cross-functional teams. The practices and methods followed in agile software development are founded on the values and principles stated in the manifesto for agile software development.
Agile software development has been widely used when teams are present in the same office. But agile methodology can also be applied in the case of remote teams, where different teams are located at different locations, usually in different countries with different time zones. By effectively following best practices, remote teams can successfully use agile offshore software development methodology to develop and deliver a high-quality product.
Why Organizations Are Adopting Agile?
Many organizations are today adopting agile. This is because of the various benefits that agile practices offer. The main reasons that are leading to the adoption of agile by organizations are –
Early product delivery
Agile developers are able to deliver the final software earlier than those who do not deploy agile software development practices. The use of sprints hastens the process of software delivery.
Clients’ requirements are better understood
Clients and agile teams are able to discuss software development before, during, and after each sprint. This allows team members to completely understand what a client really wants.
Risk of wrong product is reduced
Agile software development reduces the risk of building a wrong product. By getting feedback after each sprint, agile developers know whether they are on the right path or wrong.
Costs and time involved are predictable
As each sprint is of a fixed time period and cost estimates are provided to the client before the sprint, clients always know what it will cost and when will it get completed.
Changes can be easily accommodated
Agile software development allows for changes to be made in the product backlog so that making changes to the product’s features is not difficult.
Product includes features that the real users want
Agile developers include those features that users really require in the final product. To get valuable feedback from users, beta versions are released.
During the full software development cycle, clients are able to see and review what is happening. Thus, with agile software delivery, clients get complete transparency.
High-quality, robust product
As the whole project is accomplished by dividing it into smaller units, the team is able to produce the best outcome for each such smaller unit. Best software development practices and rigorous testing results in a high-quality robust product.
Challenges Faced by Remote Agile Teams During Agile Offshore Software Development
When teams are located at different locations, collaboration problems are apt to occur. Some of the major challenges faced by remote agile teams during agile offshore software development are given below –
Remote teams are limited in their communication channels. For example, while collocated teams face each other in a meeting room, remote teams often have to talk on a speakerphone or use other means of virtual meeting.
Different Time Zones
A critical issue for teams distributed across the time zones is contacting each other with regards to working hours. The greater the time difference, the more difficult it is.
Difficulty in Accessibility
If some members from one team want to access the computer screen of a member of another team located remotely, then even by using the virtual communication technology, the access to that member’s computer screen is not as smooth and effective as when the teams are physically located in the same office.
Product Development Problems
When the teams are located remotely, the development process can be more difficult because teams are unable to effectively lay out every detail of the product, thus affecting the product development. When the features and functionality are distributed, the team members risk losing track of the context.
Cultural and Social Aspects
Cultural differences can act as a barrier between members of different teams. Only those employees who are sociable, work satisfactorily in virtual work environments.
Best Practices and Tips for Making Agile Offshore Software Development Successful
Following are some of the best practices and tips for making agile offshore software development with remote teams successful –
Define Scope of Work
Before starting the project, define the scope of work and present it to the team members. The scope of work should consist all the tasks to be done by the team along with the timeline. This will provide the team the flexibility required for making changes.
Make a Product Road Map
After defining the scope of work, make a product development roadmap. This gives a clear view of the product vision. With a product road map, members of the offshore software development company get a clear and complete picture of the product development process.
After Every Iteration, Conduct Demos
After every iteration, conduct a demo to demonstrate team achievements. At demos, team members receive constructive feedback, positive and negative points are identified, and solutions are discussed. Demos allows a high level of collaboration to take place between the remote teams.
Use Collaboration Tools for Better Engagement
Collaboration tools make it easy for offshore teams to engage with each other in an effective way. These tools help in bridging gaps between offices located in different countries and time zones, and between teams with diverse cultures.
Some of the useful tools for collaboration include –
- Slack – This tool allows fast and synchronous communication.
- Telegram – Instead of Slack, one can also use Telegram.
- Zapier – This is a highly effective tool for automating workflows. It makes use of multiple tools and applications, so that members of the remote teams are able to collaborate effectively and easily.
- Skype – Skype is a Microsoft product and is very common. People use it not only for work, but also for communicating with friends and family.
- Google Hangouts – Google Hangouts is a Google product. It is available to users free of cost, or may be a part of a business account. It allows users to send messages, have voice and video calls, and also let them share computer screen.
In a nut shell, adoption of the agile software development methodology by remote teams increases the efficiency of the team members, and leads to the development of a high-quality and robust software in a time-bound and cost-effective way.