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Scrum: Ensuring that a geographically dispersed team does not suffer for want of communication infrastructure ..

This is the age of teams being geographically dispersed. It sounds so good to hear that all your team is based in the same office complex in San Jose; you want to speak to somebody, you can either engage them in hallway conversation or pop into their office and have the discussion you want. However, this is going to less and less likely going forward with organizations allowing more employees to work from remote centers or from even their own homes. Why so ? Well, I have been in touch with team members who are in a geographic location and applied for the job even though it is in a different location, and the organization was impressed enough to offer them a job even if that means they do it from their location; in other cases, frequent purchase of smaller companies means that you end up with people from different geographic locations and you have to live with that, and so on. There can be many reasons why you have to deal with people from different locations; even here, you can have a policy to have teams only composed of people from one location, but then somebody needs to move out, or you need to hire somebody with a specific skill, which a skilled person has but sitting in another location, and so on. So, even while working with my team in San Jose, we had people on the line from as far away as St. Louis, Romania and Delhi.
When you are working in a Scrum based project, then you try to ensure that people on the same Scrum team are on the same location, so people sitting in St. Louis would be one team, those in Delhi would be on a separate team, and so on. This ensures that you atleast get all the meetings in one location, but even this may not happen sometimes. When you have a Scrum team with people in different locations, there is more worrying on the infrastructure side to do.
Communication infrastructure is one of the key items that needs to happen properly. I have seen meetings where the infrastructure was sub-optimal, and there were a lot of issues regarding people not hearing what the other was saying, or the other team members missed out entire sections of the conversation. If somebody presented something on a board, there were no clear facilities to ensure that teams on the other side of the phone line could see what was being presented, and so on. All of these have an incredibly bad effect on the productivity of the team, with the minimal impact being that the team needs to have their meetings being longer than necessary. The biggest problem is that the facilities to ensure that there is good connectivity are all present, and there are no good reasons why teams cannot have such facilities in place, when they are dealing with the situation of having team members at different geographic locations.

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