Agile and distribution is not a contradiction. The agile principles seem to compensate the risks in distributed development scenarios. This is what the Saxonia Systems AG has learned from numerous distributed projects. With the introduction of agile methods, we seem work significantly better. But, why? This presentation analyzes the main risks in distributed setups and shows how agile principles have impact on the team collaboration and motivation. We show what we have learned from past projects and what we have done to support distributed teams. Finally, we provide an overview about the four pillars of distributed and agile software development: 1) the distributed project room, 2) the tools, 3) the adopted processes and roles, and 4) the motivated team. Finally, we show how these aspects result in our concept ETEO (“Ein Team – Ein Office” which is german and means “one team – one office”) which boosts distributed teams.
The distributed project room consists of a digital scrum board, a high definition video conferencing system which is always on and a general room setup for working and meeting periods. Today, collaboration tools for code review, video chat, screen sharing, synchronized boards and others, support many tasks within a distributed scrum team. Further, we identified additional skills for team members and especially the Scrum Master. As the title suggests, the face-to-face communication is limited which might be experienced as non-natural or “faked”. Therefore, we introduced tools to improve awareness and expressiveness of each team member. Finally, the whole team needs to reflect their working culture and should be supported by specialized coaching tools. Continuously, the implementation of the agile principles need to be reviewed to keep the team efficient and motivated. Ignoring at least one of these facts, may lead to dangerous and unpredictable projects, wherein the team needs to invest much time to find out how to work distributed and efficient.