Role of Supporting Tools and Cultural Barriers in Remote Agile TeamsMuhammad Zeeshan Ali, PMP, PMI-ACP
Some believe that the supporting tools are an essential part of Agile project management along with team empowerment and following good engineering practices (Berczuk, 2007). Without proper availability of tools, it is just like a warrior going to war with a sword. All the cultural barriers, the poor project management practices are covered by utilizing a proper tool. Some even believe that the teams should be separated based on their use of technology (Malhotra & Majchrzak, 2014).
The level of usage of tools by teams and their skills with these tools may be formalized to determine how many chances of success are there in the Agile project being executed in distributed teams. It is also believed that it is only possible through the use of tools and technology to monitor and control progress throughout the project lifecycle (Braglia & Frosolini, 2014). The true essence of Agile project management lies in the level of tools used to plan and execute the project as the data can be manipulated at any stage to produce data for analysis for multiple purposes.
Mostly it is viewed that companies utilize services of the offshore or distributed teams to reduce costs, or to expand the service round the clock or to provide face-to-face communication opportunities to the client (Phalnikar, Deshpande, & Joshi, 2008). The thing that gets missed in this strategy is that the teams working on the project are not able to coordinate and communicate the requirements and as a result the quality suffers. Good thing about Agile methodologies is that it tries to keep all stakeholders informed and close to the development team and as a result there are more chances of interacting as compared to normal practices.
Six most critical success factors found in distributed teams’ are; Trust, Efficient communication, Cultural understanding, Relationship between client and vendor, Contract type and Efficient knowledge transfer (Ranasinghe & Perera, 2015). Trust is something which is the core of teamwork in any methodology and the level of trust in the team can really dictate the chances of project success.
Effective communication can be termed as one of the most common challenge among the distributed teams and tools, such as team collaboration tools available in different languages, have provided much support for the interaction of distributed teams and also it has enormously helped in bypassing the need to understand the cultural norms which are absolutely required to understand if you are looking to communicate through regular channels. The relationship with client and vendor is important in the sense that since all services will not be delivered from one remote location therefore the synchronization of teams is important.
The contract type in Agile methodology can change the way teams work and the directly related area is the quality of the product. The last identified factor is the knowledge transfer and distributed teams use different tools like Wiki-like knowledge base, documentations, recorded demos, interactive demos and social media for transfer of knowledge.
Berczuk, S. (2007). Back to Basics: The Role of Agile Principles in Success with an Distributed Scrum Team. IEEE Computer Society.
Malhotra, A., & Majchrzak, A. (2014). Enhancing performance of geographically distributed teams through targeted use of information and communication technologies. Human Relations.
Braglia, M., & Frosolini, M. (2014). An integrated approach to implement Project Management Information Systems within the Extended Enterprise. International Journal of Project Management, 32, 18-29.
Phalnikar, R., Deshpande, V., & Joshi, S. (2008). Applying Agile Principles for Distributed Software Development. International Conference on Advanced Computer Control (pp. 535-539). IEEE Computer Society.
Ranasinghe, R. C., & Perera, I. (2015). Effectiveness of Scrum for Offshore Software Development in Sri Lanka.