As a business manager or team leader, you’re probably having to make some pretty quick adjustments to your business to keep your head above water during the Pandemic. In the current uncertain business landscape, it’s never been more important to adapt your products and services to your latest customer needs in order to remain competitive and relevant.

If you're interested in learning more about how to achieve successful results while working remotely, we suggest you access here to get a free consultation.

These have been crazy days for sure, you might have worked remotely, but never went through total isolation. Let's face it, it seems like there's nothing to do about it. Still, there are a few things you can do on a daily basis to get the best of your agile teams. 

Working with Agile during the Pandemic

You might be wondering what it means exactly to work with agile methodologies during this period of social distancing and isolation. As we know, applying agile methodologies is one of the best ways to ensure the delivery of a well-rounded product that has evolved to meet today’s challenges.

In basic terms, agile means constant communication between the client and the provider. Forget about those days when you weren’t sure about the progress being made on your software development project

Agile invites a collaborative effort from all parties involved in a project, that means that developers, designers, researchers, taxonomists, project managers and scrum masters are all integrated into one efficient team.  However, a ban on in-person office work means there’s now a need to modify agile ceremonies to fit a remote work environment

People doing a scrum ceremony at the office with sticky notes there are scrum masters, Project managers and designers and developers

What are the challenges of working with agile in a remote environment? 

Ceremonies in agile are traditionally held in person, teams usually work in clusters or in-office with the client. Today, it would be reasonable to wonder how daily meetings, feedback sessions, and product demonstrations can take place if everyone is obliged to work remotely.

During the last weeks, we've seen dozens of articles addressing how people has been getting more and more anxious on how to coordinate with teams across different time zones or how to build rapport or even communicate effectively when the development teams are not in the same office. Another common concern of remote agile work is that teams will only be online for a short window of time each day. 

These are all very valid concerns and frequent challenges  of remote agile work, however, they’re definitely resolvable. 

Despite today’s challenges, it is still possible for agile teams to use the same methodology in a remote environment. 

A woman working on a scrum or agile ceremony on the agile methodology using sticky notes, she is blond and there are two teammates listening to her and participating on the event or ceremony. Sticky notes are pink

Adapting Agile Events for a Remote Work Environment 

1) Daily Scrum 

Daily Scrum ceremonies are an essential part of any agile project. They are necessary for sharing progress, identifying any delays as well as sharing the plan for the day ahead. Retaining the structure of these ceremonies is the main challenge while social distancing protocol is in place. This makes even more sense when it comes to outsourcing your projects and working with third parties, with whom you rely that work on. 

First, the use of video platforms can encourage communication between teams, to keep them focused and encouraged.  You can also try extending meetings from 15 to 30 minutes, with the second half reserved for problem-solving is a great way to keep Scrum meetings focused. 

2) Sprint Planning 

Sprint planning is integral to well-executed work sprints. They are commonly used for dividing work up equally as well as for agreeing on goals and commitment, and as today everyone isn't in the same place the challenge becomes even tougher.

To guarantee time is used as efficiently as possible, make sure to break down longer sprint planning meetings into two respective stages: the first one to decide on the “What” (PBIs selection for the sprint), and a second one to discuss the “How” (where the Team analyzes resolution alternatives and estimations in order to ensure that they can take that amount of work for the sprint). 

What's more, to mitigate the lack of on-site availability, it's important to attempt having all the participants´cameras on, as to reinforce face-to-face encounters.

Also, a good call is to ask teams to prep work beforehand while working offline, in order to save time by coming into agreements on an early basis. 

Photo of a person holding a mobile phone and working with agile ceremonies in a remote work environment, he has a laptop mac a mobile phone and a pen and a notebook

3) Backlog Refinement 

Defining plans to mitigate impediments and updating the backlog is still doable in a remote work environment. While it might feel challenging to align a large group as well as encourage complex problem solving, it’s possible to succeed. 

A good solution is to hold meetings of smaller groups so they can share updates with larger ones. This way, the communication flow will be much more enhanced.

Enable guaranteed access to whiteboarding or collaboration tools in real-time so other that all team members, those  who are and those who aren't fully familiarized with the project, can follow along.

4) Sprint Review

When collecting feedback and acknowledging achievements, you might be worried about presentation issues as well as demonstrations that feel like simple status updates. To keep remote sprint reviews on track, presentations need to be short, engaging, and to the point. 

Agile teams want their remote sprint reviews to be as energetic and relevant as possible. Working remotely should encourage innovative ways to showcase progress to stakeholders like sharing short videos of customer feedback interviews. 

In addition to that, network connection may be an issue for online events such as sprint reviews, making it even more difficult to engage.

A good way to face this challenge is for teams to adapt to a wide variety of videoconference tools such as Zoom, Google Meet, BlueJeans, Skype, amongst others. The videoconference chosen should be settled beforehand with the meeting participants, including stakeholders.

When it comes to dailys, teams can also share their notes through Slack or Hangouts with an update on what they did, what they plan on doing on that day, and any roadblocks that may show-up along the way.

man-wearing-blue-crew-neck working remotely because of the social distancing protocol, from her house, work from home, she has her mac book laptop and is adapting to the agile methodology in a remote work environment

5) Sprint Retrospective

It’s important that during sprint retrospectives, all team members can feel safe to honestly reflect on team interaction as well as talk about possible improvements to be made to working style. 

The concern that video platforms might interfere with team members to be unapologetically honest is valid, so it’s best to allow team members to pick video or audio mode depending on what they feel most comfortable with. Incognito digital tools can also be used to ensure team members feel safe being honest.  

Working with Tonic3 During the Pandemic

While the pandemic has presented us with an unexpected set of challenges for well-executed agile ceremonies, a few simple adjustments will ensure that your projects continue to progress successfully despite the pandemic. 

At Tonic3, our remote agile teams of experts can successfully deliver your software development projects. To learn more about how your business can achieve results by implementing agile methodologies in a remote work environment during the pandemic, reach out and we’ll put together a custom team for your needs.

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Tonic3 Tonic3 is a multi-national digital agency providing UX, VR/AR, and Software Development services with delivery centers in Dallas, TX and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Clients include Citi, McDonald's, Disney, Accenture, BMW, Danone, Banamex, Johnson & Johnson, and Sofitel.
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