While close to 71% of businesses choose Agile approaches to manage projects internally, the same methodology can be used to manage external teams as well. To begin with, it is important to choose a remote team that already has an agile framework in place. To educate them on Sprint meetings and how they are done would defeat the purpose of outsourcing work to an external agency. Assuming you are already working with an agile vendor, it only makes sense to manage your remote teams via Sprint meetings.
In this article, let us take a look at how you can hold Sprint meetings with your remote team to enhance productivity.
What is a Sprint meeting?
A Sprint meeting is a quick and collaborative congregation of team members and is a crucial part of Scrum. Part of the Agile framework, Scrum helps you manage knowledge-based work efficiently. It gives you the power to track progress, address vulnerabilities, reduce workload and enhance productivity, all at once. The gist of Scrum philosophy is that quality trounces quantity and that employees are more productive when they work less. While Scrum-based strategies (and Sprint meetings) are often used in-house, Scrum-inspired management techniques help you remotely manage your offshore teams as well.
Now, let us take a look at how you can start holding Sprint meetings with your offshore team in order to manage them better.
Start with the Sprint planning meeting
Make an agreement with your vendor to confine all work cycles to iterations or Sprints of 2 weeks. A month-long is a little too much and just a week would probably not give enough time for your team to complete tasks. Define the goal of each Sprint and work towards developing features of an application or tool that are most essential. As with all Sprint meetings, get your offshore team members to speak more than you will. Purists would advise that a manager should never speak and only the team member should. However, in the case of an offshore situation, this is not possible as you probably will conduct these meetings via video or web conferencing tools.
Before you begin to hold your daily Scrum meetings, it is important to start with the Sprint Planning Meeting. Make a hierarchy of features and tasks that need to be prioritized for the product iteration. Product and Sprint backlogs can be managed effectively at the review stage. Here are a few things to consider before you begin your daily Sprint meetings with your offshore team:
While management expert Bob Sutton (Twitter) explains that “4 is the optimal size for a combat team as evidenced by U.S. Navy Seals”, products analytics company Amplitude suggests a growth team should have 5-10 members. If your offshore team has more members, break them up into smaller teams.
Hold daily Scrum meetings
The most crucial aspect of Scrum meetings is the daily 15-minute meeting with all team members involved. As offshore teams are located far away and you cannot be physically present to oversee project completion, daily Scrum meetings are a non-intrusive and effective way to quantify and measure your progress. Make a small and limited list of questions to ask your offshore team and ensure that the questions track the progress made the previous day, what needs to be done on that particular day, and what obstacles are preventing your offshore team from completing the tasks in hand. Aaron Bjork (Twitter), a group program manager at Microsoft’s Visual Studio Online often asks his team members“What does leadership make you do that is slowing you down”, in order to rectify managerial mistakes.
Daily Scrum meetings help you to closely work with your offshore team and break barriers often associated with outsourced projects. A well-planned Scrum meeting will ensure that your offshore team communicates with you effectively on a daily basis. Here are a few things you need to do in order to make your daily meetings a success:
He also added, “The larger a group, the more process problems members encounter in carrying out their collective work …. Worse, the vulnerability of a group to such difficulties increases sharply as size increases.” He stressed the importance of breaking up large teams and focusing on decentralization, something that Scrum meetings help achieve quickly.
Review your Sprint meetings
Conduct Sprint review meetings to deliberate on the progress made at the end of a Sprint. While traditionally review meetings last for 4 hours, you can be flexible in your approach when it comes to using the method in an offshore environment.
A review meeting is also done in order to present evidence that a product increment has taken place. Depending on the project you have outsourced to your offshore vendor, customize your review meeting and focus on backlogs. When the project is finally completed, you can invite all the stakeholders to the final review where a completed application or project is presented.
Finally, conduct a Sprint retrospective meeting
This is a final meeting in which everyone is required to be honest and transparent. All team members should feel free to express what they want to. Retrospective meetings are crucial to ensure post-development support and maintenance. It is also important to address custom requirements based on changing scenarios.
Only when every concern has been addressed and both your internal team and the offshore team are satisfied with the Scrum can you end it. As Scrum stresses the importance of transparency, honesty, and mutual respect, it is the right project management strategy to implement in offshore projects.
Use your Scrum meetings to grow as a company and learn from your errors. Dom Price (Twitter), head of R&D at Atlassian warns companies against not evolving while claiming to be agile, “It’s ironic for me that people who are Agile practitioners, ones who are saying Agile is all about evolution, aren’t evolving as people. They’re static. They’re using things they learned 17 years ago and they are deploying it in the exact same way.” Make sure that you do not use agility to pat your own back, but to realistically change and evolve.
Manage your offshore team better with Sprint meetings
As you can see, in an offshore outsourcing situation, Sprint meetings are conducted in three phases. Initially, you should plan how to do the Sprint meetings and what you plan to achieve. This includes assigning roles, defining goals and deciding where the meetings will take place. The second stage involves daily Sprint meetings that last for 15 minutes. These meetings should be held at the same time every day on the same platform and should track progress and identify obstacles. Finally, review and retrospective meetings should be conducted in order to achieve complete transparency and mutual satisfaction. A Sprint can be described as done only when both parties are satisfied with the final result.