Location-independent agile: Key to making big companies digitally responsive

In the last two decades, businesses with agile development projects have gone to great lengths to bring together the right team, in one room, to facilitate face-to-face conversations. Actually, that was the 6th teaching of The Agile Manifesto: “The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.”

However, that notion doesn’t hold true anymore, nor is it realistic. In fact, forcing agile teams to be in the same room is an impediment to efficiency and productivity.

Instead, companies that are embracing agile methods to digitally transform their businesses must make their agile teams location-independent. By this we mean, team members must be able to participate in meetings from wherever they reside around the world.

Doing so will ensure project leaders will have round-the-clock access to skills and knowledge, and deliver on schedule. A growing number of organizations are making location-independent agile teams work. Surveys by Forrester, VentureOne, and Scott Ambler + Associates all indicate that businesses are finding great success by creating diverse teams split among various locations.

Here are guidelines to help you build and manage those teams:

• Insure intellectual harmony: Right from the start, it’s important that all agile team members understand each other’s domains and terminology. This way, they will understand each other better and communicate more effectively.
• Promote role equality: Make sure everyone knows what each brings to the table and respects everyone for their expertise.
• Protect strongly: Guard agile team members’ time and focus from the whims of other managers who are not involved in their digital initiative, especially when daily organizational pressures mount.
• Convert widely: Convince skeptical executives to become agile. Get them to embrace and advocate agile.

Agile team members must be comfortable working from different locations. Businesses that adopt location-independent agile teams can deliver quick results by leveraging skills and knowledge across the globe.

If you would like to learn more about how your business can flourish by instituting location-independent agile work teams, read my article Why Your Agile Team is Better Off Dispersed: The Case for Location-independent Agile in the latest edition of our management journal, Perspectives.

About the author(s)

Krishnan Ramanujam

With more than 20 years of global consulting experience, Krishnan Ramanujam is an expert in the execution of complex, global transformational initiatives for Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies. Krishnan focusses on driving profitability for organizations by spearheading their evolution from IT-centric to customer-centric models that streamline and align business functions. With a keen understanding and deep knowledge of key industries, market changes and client needs, he has directed the development of new products and solutions that successfully facilitate this transition to realize maximum business value.

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