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Working with remote teams, and some of the issues that come with this distance ..

Outsourcing is a major factor in all software projects. When your projects are under stress to be competitive (and when you see your competitors sending work to many locations such as China, Philippines, India, Romania, etc and reducing your costs), the pressure to also outsource your work can be fairly significant. This is true whether you are using software methodologies such as Waterfall, or Scrum, or any other. With the pressure to outsource work to these low cost centers being driven by management at senior levels, the actual coordination has to be done by people at the actual team level, and they have to deal with the pressures of doing the cross-geography coordination. In the case of Scrum, there are some specific challenges that come up and which the cross-geography teams need to resolve:
– If the remote teams are having their own Scrums, and your local team is working on its own Scrum meetings and interaction, then this model only works when the teams are working on their own projects. If however, the multiple teams work on the same project, and yet their Scrum interaction is not happening, then the teams run into more problems, namely:
* The teams still tend to think of themselves as being separate teams, and there are a lot of problems in terms of ‘us’ vs. ‘them’
* There is a great deal of gap between the teams even in terms of the actual definition of features and tasks
* There are huge issues in terms of ownership of code between the teams, and one team tends to feel that they own the code and other teams need to ask for getting access to code and so on; this in turn leads to ownership and detachment issues.
* The above problems leads to impact on the productivity of the teams
* Culture differences between the teams can lead to difficulties when it comes to items such as the amount of queries that team members have during the Sprint Planning processes, or during the Retrospective meetings. In such meetings, the teams are supposed to be as open as possible, whether it be in terms of asking queries to the Product Owner, or in terms of questioning some of the practices followed by the Sprint team (in order to point out issues, or make suggestions regarding improvements in the functioning of the Scrum team).
– One recommended method to prevent such problems is through the concept of distributed Scrum of scrums, or fully integrated Scrums where the remote team and the local team interact to a much greater degree

Already, there are enough problems in terms of getting common time frames between the various cross geography teams for the various Scrum meetings; I know some organizations that have spent a fair amount of time in terms of breaking up the work into discrete tasks that can be done separately by the separate product teams, and then the coordination in terms of what all has been achieved is through a common Product Owner.

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