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How to run a project using Scrum when your team is in different locations – the Daily Scrum meeting

In a previous post, I had mentioned that it is far easier to run the Daily Scrum meeting when you have everybody co-located and in the same room. However, in these current times, there are so many cases where the teams can be in different geographic locations, or in different time zones. One wonders how Scrum works in many of these cases ?
Well, the easy answer is that one has to a lot of working behind the scenes in order to make sure that everything works the same as it used to when everybody was in the same location. What do you need to do:
– In the normal Daily Scrum meeting, you need to ensure that some sort of video conferencing and online whiteboard is utilized so that to everybody present, it seems like almost a simulation of everybody being present in the same conference room. Evaluate different web conferencing tools and select the one that works for your team the best.
– Behind the scenes work means that ensuring the logistics (multiple conference rooms, the web conferencing tools, etc) are all in place.
– If the teams are spread across multiple countries, then there is the question of different cultures causing misunderstandings among the teams (not expected to volunteer impediments, etc), so those need to be handled offline through multiple discussions until an agreement is reached
– When the Daily Scrum meetings are from time zones that do not have much overlap (say, between India and the US West Coast), then the situation becomes more complicated. In such cases, a time has to be picked that is either inconvenient to one of them, or to both of them (preferable to inconvenience the location that has fewer team members). It is more complicated to have separate Scrum meetings and then to try to synchronize them.
– In cases where the different team members have problems in terms of languages (with China / Japan on one side, and India / US on the other side), a Daily Scrum meeting gets more difficult. You would need to have a person on either side who can translate, or have people send in a written summary before the meeting so that the spoken portion gets reduced.
– Keep in mind that you need more patience when dealing with team members who are from different locations, and even the length of the Daily Scrum meeting might become slightly longer because of all these logistical issues, but Scrum can still work (you just need to give it more effort).

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