The Value of Virtual Agility: How Distributed Agile Development Teams Can Thrive
January 13, 2021

Scott Abate
Anexinet

For many years I have been touting the legitimacy, and even advantages, of "Virtual Agility" only to be stonewalled by the dogmatic "co-locationists" in the Agile community.

Nothing is as effective as having everyone in the same room. I get it. War rooms, Scrum rooms, and operations centers have become the normal hive of agility for those organizations that prize the value of co-location. Well, that's great for teams who are in the same geography. But, my reality is virtual. The teams I work with are distributed, remote and dispersed throughout the globe. We have had to adapt our Agile practice for a virtual world. In fact, we have found ways to thrive virtually, untethered from the constraints of the physical workspace, and to exploit the opportunities of a timeless and borderless virtual working environment.

For starters, we source talent from anywhere. We don't have to hire from a limited pool of local candidates. For many products and projects, we assembled our ideal mix of talent and skill from the entire pool of qualified workers. And in some cases, we found better talent at cheaper rates.

But, when your team is distributed across several time zones, bringing everyone together for the same workday is challenging. So, don't do it. Let your team members design their own working schedules and find a sliver of time that overlaps on everyone's calendar for stand-ups and other ceremonies.

If you must have specialists and a workflow, design it to flow from East to West, so that your daily iterations progress from the early-risers onto the late-nighters. In the utopian virtual agility world, you could even run several Scrum teams around the clock with overlapping stand-ups in-between shifts, and redline your daily velocity.

Of course when you don't have physical, in-person interactions, you will need to substitute their effectiveness with good tools. Our tool stack is primarily web-based and ubiquitous, so that our teams can work from virtually anywhere, at any time, and from any device. Since we have no war room, no Scrum room, no operation center- everything must be in the cloud. The tools we selected for our production line are cloud-based or hosted on a virtual machine. Our DevOps is more like a "VirtOps", or a virtualized ecosystem of software development and distribution tools.

While we don't see each other's happy faces every day, we do see the laser-focused, high quality, high-throughput work that each other produces every minute. Our communication rallies around tools such as Slack, that aggregate and log pertinent discussions with notifications fed from the integrated telemetry of our VirtOps ecosystem. In real-time, as it happens, we can very clearly see the decisions made and resultant actions of our agile teams. Literally managing teams by watching a channel, and following the posts in our daily iterations as they go from stand-up plans to peer reviews, to check-ins, to build notifications, to test results and ultimately feedback. We place a much greater emphasis on showing us your work online and in channels rather than telling us about it in a meeting.

We have proven time and time again that we can be just as agile, and even more agile, than co-located teams. We have found clever ways to use our virtualization to promote our own agility. In our virtual agile world, we have removed travel and time as impediments to our responsiveness. We have replaced in-person interactions with robust digital communication tools and broad information aggregators. In the end, "we have [uncovered] better ways of developing software by doing it" remotely, and "have come to value" Virtual Agility.

Scott Abate is a Certified Agile Project Manager, PMI-ACP, CSP, PMP, MCTS, at Anexinet
Share this

Industry News

August 08, 2022

Contrast Security announced that software composition analysis (SCA) is now available for free in CodeSec.

CodeSec offers free application security testing and SCA in a single, developer-friendly interface.

The new SCA feature will enable developers to easily identify vulnerable third-party libraries quickly and accurately, getting secure code moving in minutes.

August 08, 2022

CloudBees announced Anuj Kapur as President and CEO.

August 08, 2022

ShiftLeft named Stuart McClure as CEO.

August 04, 2022

Cribl announced a new partnership with SentinelOne. The partnership enables SentinelOne customers to leverage Cribl's observability product suite to streamline cybersecurity triage, optimize data collection, and provide security teams control of their data.

August 04, 2022

Seemplicity partnered with Checkmarx. The partnership will see the Checkmarx One Platform integrated within Seemplicity's Productivity Platform, allowing joint customers to simplify the entire find-to-fix lifecycle and ultimately accelerate the time to remediation of vulnerabilities found throughout the software development lifecycle (SDLC).

August 04, 2022

Rafay Systems announced new capabilities that empower enterprise platform teams to provide developer self-service for faster application deployments with the necessary guardrails enterprises require.

August 03, 2022

Armory announced the availability of its CD Self-Hosted and Managed 2.28 product release.

August 03, 2022

mabl announced the release of enhanced branching capabilities that enable software development teams to easily create test branches, compare different versions of tests, and resolve conflicts in parallel with development and at the rapid pace of CI/CD.

August 03, 2022

Appdome announced the immediate availability of ThreatScope, a Mobile Security Operations Center (SOC) that's fully integrated inside the Appdome DevSecOps build system.

August 02, 2022

Traceable AI announced the addition of extended Berkeley Packet Filter (eBPF) data to its platform.

August 02, 2022

Harness announced the general availability of Harness Security Testing Orchestration (STO).

August 02, 2022

LambdaTest announced the availability of HyperExecute, a lightning-quick intelligent test orchestration platform, in the Microsoft Azure Marketplace, an online store providing applications and services for use on Azure.

August 01, 2022

Retool announced major updates to its free plan for developers, which now allows teams of up to five users to build unlimited apps.

August 01, 2022

Hazelcast announced the beta release of a new serverless offering under its Viridian cloud portfolio.

Hazelcast Viridian Serverless enables companies to take immediate action on real-time data by speeding app development, simplifying provisioning, and enabling flexible and robust integration of real-time data into applications.

August 01, 2022

Exadel announced the recent acquisition of software engineering company Motion Software, which specializes in blockchain, AI, analytics, healthcare, and eLearning, and is the creator of a remote work platform that enables tech companies to engage with top digital talent worldwide.