Mark Needham

Thoughts on Software Development

Distributed Agile: Communication – Reliance on one person

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Continuing with my series of observations on what it’s like working in a distributed agile team, another thing that I’ve noticed is that it’s useful to try and ensure that there is communication between as many people as possible in the two cities.

This means that we want to ensure that we don’t have an over reliance on one person to handle any communication.

We have a call once a day between developers in Pune and Chicago and the Chicago guys have been able to achieve this by rotating the person attending the call.

In Pune we’ve typically had half the developers attending the call but perhaps only one or two actually speaking.

I originally didn’t think of this as being a problem because those two guys were really good at communicating and in other teams I’ve worked on we’d typically have the tech lead and maybe one other communicating with other teams.

In this case we are communicating with people in the same team and by chance a few weeks ago both of the main communicators from Pune were away at the same time so we had to have the Chicago call without them.

Perhaps unsurprisingly others were able to fill the gap that had been left and as an added benefit the guys in Chicago had now had the opportunity to interact directly with more people from Pune.

A interesting and positive side effect I’ve noticed is that the people who had now started communicating directly with team members in Chicago seemed to become more involved in the project as a whole and are now also more likely to communicate via email than they may have been previously.

Our challenge now that both the original guys are back is to ensure that the whole team still remains involved in communication with Chicago and don’t delegate back to those two every time.

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Written by Mark Needham

November 8th, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Posted in Distributed Agile

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