Enhancing Agile processes to work in a remote environment: Part 2

  • 31/07/2020
  • 19:03
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Whilst the Agile framework has been used in the software industry for many years, it continues to grow in popularity across multiple sectors due to its proven results.

The abrupt move to remote working in response to COVID-19 has challenged the typical approach to managing Agile teams. Historically Agile is embedded, and has thrived, when team members are co-located. The frequent in-person contact builds trust, simplifies problem solving, facilitates rapid communication, and in turn supports fast-paced decision making.

Practical adaptations

Many organisations don’t realise that when they convert teams to remote working, they’re essentially changing the business culture. Agile practices are also a type of change management framework. However, the most common mistake at the beginning is to go too fast and the impact of this may well be felt by many organisations that have had to leave physical working spaces with little or no notice.

Agile teams always begin with collective agreements. Write them out and send them around the team. These are the types of questions you should be asking:

  • Which tools will we use to communicate?
  • Where will information be shared?
  • Which security protocols are in place?
  • What are the expected response times?

If you start by answering these basic questions, your Agile meetings will begin to fall into place.

Tips for remote agility

Agile teams are also a type of distributed team. The distributions of skillset and global location create their own challenges, so here are the Spring recommendations for outperformance:

Review communication channels – Agile communication only succeeds if it leads to effective outcomes. For example, intended outcomes are unlikely to be met if previous modes of communication such as in-person scrums and corridor conversations are replaced by an email alone. They are always great for confirmation and or reference, but face-to-face video conferencing, screen sharing, and chat channels are far more effective in the Agile environment.

Remote scrums – Another common mistake for new Agile teams is to simply try and replicate what works in a traditional office. A quick-win tactic is to work backwards, by starting with the outcomes you’d like to achieve first. Your scrums should be adjusted and angled towards these goals. Efficient scrums are the foundation of Agile remote working. When they are optimal, they create more innovation and deliver products quicker.

Communication quality vs. quantity – Make certain that important communications are shared with the rationale included, as well as the decision/action itself. When working remotely,’s easy for finer details to be overlooked. Miscommunication is less likely if the thinking behind decisions is relayed and crystal clear.

The right skills in the right place – Having team members work in different time zones can be an advantage. When working on deliverables, handovers between different parts of the team should be organised with this in mind. Use the staggered-relay approach in your shared work queue. If one team gets ahead, this can result in faster progress, instead of them having to wait on assets before moving forward. When deadlines are met, the normal case scenario is that a deliverable is ready for the handover on time, and best case: projects are completed even faster.

Agile environment

The best online tools for your Agile team will depend on your organisational style, practices, and processes. Consulting with the Spring team can help improve productivity, because our network knows how well the most popular platforms benefit different types of companies. What approaches are the most advanced organisations using though? Augmented reality (AR) platforms will be the Microsoft Teams, and JIRA of the future.

The technology already being used in tech sectors like medical device manufacturing and enterprise landscaping allow for environments that combine the flexibility of video conferencing, virtual whiteboards, and 3D design. Forward-looking businesses in the sales and marketing industry are now also looking to prioritise how AR can be used with their Agile teams. Productivity ROI is always the key concern, and the organisations that take the next step in agile-friendly platforms will attract the best talent.

Agile and the ‘next normal’

Scalability is the central topic of global organisations concerning the use of the Agile framework. Companies now want to use the approach with larger projects and teams, and it’s essential that they know how to implement them.

Agile was initially designed for small, single-team projects, but now its use is becoming widespread. For more information on how you can make the best of Agile remote working, read the first blog in our Agile series or contact our team today.