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Agile in Distributed Development – A Formula for Success

David Tzemach

Posted On: November 25, 2022

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Read time7 Min Read

Agile in Distributed Development

Agile has unquestionable benefits. The mainstream method has assisted numerous businesses in increasing organizational flexibility as a result, developing better, more intuitive software. Distributed development is also an important strategy for software companies. It gives access to global talent, the use of offshore outsourcing to reduce operating costs, and round-the-clock development.

Employing remote development teams that comply with agile principles can lead to a significant competitive advantage. Face-to-face contact, regular client discussions, and collaborating team members, are important elements of agile. So, how can you adopt agile methodologies when team members are not seated next to one another?

For over two decades, I’ve been leading internationally distributed projects using agile approaches to enhance process improvement, increase organizational efficiency, and deliver quality products to market faster. With groups spread throughout the globe, this is the strategy I’ve taken to solve communication, workflow, and quality management challenges faced by group members separated by different time zone.

Focus on Continuous integration (CI) and Continuous Deployment (CD)

One of my customers had a massive project in which the burden of tests aimed to be in mobile application development, so for his purposes, the functionality of the application must be fast and responsive in order to ensure good usability and end-user satisfaction. In a manual testing scenario, a tester writes the test cases, tests them, and gives his feedback to other team members (usually developers) this is taking place, developers have already made numerous changes to the code. When you consider many developers making 24/7 changes to code in a distributed environment, the feedback received from the tester is immediately outdated and therefore has less positive impact on the process. With test automation that now with DevOps practices are known as CI/CD, once a test case is written it can be executed and the application can be tested again and again as soon as any change in the code occurs (Say NO to manual regression tests 😊).

When making changes, automated testing provides development teams with timely, dependable feedback—something that is impossible to achieve manually, especially when dealing with multinational and distributed teams. The primary goal is to automate the most critical end-to-end use scenarios. Examples that regularly test the app’s important functionalities, such as searching and acquiring a product, Authentication flows, would ensure that such cases are never skipped or forgotten.

Your teams may also use test automation analytics to define targets and track success. The majority of effective test businesses maintain and publish test automation indicators, which instill enthusiasm and competition in their employees. These build metrics are significant because they allow your teams to identify issues that do not break the products but slow them down. Identifying the root causes of poor performance towards the conclusion of a project might take a long time. These reports assist us all rapidly identifying the version where the issue initially manifested itself and the code that caused the performance drop.

Get rid of ownership silos

It is critical for members of distributed groups to bond under a single goal. Everyone must agree on the project’s objectives and grasp the software project’s vision. This is what allows professionals to appreciate their work and improve it in order to have a beneficial impact on the final outcome. The ideal method to do this is to eliminate “silos of ownership,” in which developers are solely accountable for their specific area of the program. At my groups and teams, we aim that every developer (and specifically testers) owns the whole product and is required to contribute to every component of the code and evaluate check-ins from every section of the code. This reduces politics and fosters code cross-training and knowledge-sharing among all group members. It also maintains uniformity in code formatting, style, naming standards, and so on.

When everyone understands the project goal and no one engineer is assigned to a specific component of the product, the work that the team needs to achieve becomes transparent across all groups spread across different locations. Furthermore, with functional software as the key measure of progress and every team member scored on the code and code reviews he or she does, team members become more self-motivated and quality becomes a whole team responsibility (which is the best thing that can happen, when programmers have the commitment and understanding to the importance of quality, instead of just letting testers to be accountable).

Improve Persistence in Collaboration and Communication

I had one customer who was in the middle of a project that was technically complicated enough without the extra complication of development groups spread throughout the United States, India, and Ukraine. Each development team has between 20 and 30 professionals, including developers, testers, product managers, and at least one DBA.

To start a project, I like to hold a full-team conference call with all team members participating. This ensures that everyone gets the same message, understands the objectives, and helps you to create the groundwork for how the teams will collaborate. Depending on the situation, we may use video conferencing, wikis, email, online forums, and code reviews. In terms of efficacy, this approaches face-to-face interaction, and we blend strategies based on what has to be communicated among team members.

While text messaging, chat rooms, and teleconferencing are excellent ways to bridge the communication gap between distant teams, there is another highly successful way of communicating that I favor: concentrating on code. In addition to one-on-one interaction, coding is a powerful communication tool. A daily or continuous build of code communicates a lot about the project’s status and allows all teams and stakeholders to observe and report on existing code. It also ensures that everyone is working on the same project and build simultaneously at the same time.

Communicating with code also encourages other types of communication to keep your team on track, such as instructions about norms, supporting documents, and testability; voting and consensus-building around feature and architecture questions; and discussion among stakeholders about contributions accepted and deployed in the shared build.

There will be disagreements when the project is being developed. It might be difficult to overcome obstacles in a dispersed setting when team members may speak various languages or have different cultural backgrounds. My teams must come up with a resolution to any issue or dispute, which the team leader can then consider and decide on.

Closing

Using agile methodologies for distributed development works, but it takes more than just adopting a certain framework or methodology. To be effective, you must foster an inclusive atmosphere in which all team members are engaged, properly understand the big picture, and are dedicated to the overall success of the project rather than simply their specific code piece.

Communication is essential to achieving this goal. Using a variety of tools to help teams interact and exchange information helps build trust. The end result is a more effective team, regardless of their location. Finally, automated testing is critical in an environment where development is ongoing around the clock. It not only protects against new development, but it also frees up a lot of valuable development and testers’ time, enabling them to focus on what they do best.

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David Tzemach

The founder and owner of the Agile Quality Made Easy blog (25K followers). A platform that he uses for teaching and coaching others, sharing knowledge with people, and guiding them towards success while giving them the inspiration and tools to discover their own path.

Blogs: 42



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