While some may think working collaboratively as a team whilst working remotely is a challenge, utilising Agile processes can be key to efficient software development, even when team members aren’t in the same room.

Now, you may be asking: what does Agile have to do with remote working? Well, as it is a methodology used for project development and management, it can translate quite well for working remotely too. By addressing the common concerns people have about remote working, it helps form more cohesive working relationships.

Potential issues that some managers might have with their team remotely working are:

  • Trust – can employees be trusted to work when they are not being supervised?
  • Collaboration – are people working as well together as a team while working remotely?
  • Time Management – without supervision are employees spending too much time on a tasks and potentially wasting time?

However, with the Agile way of working, most of these fears can be mitigated.

Agile Processes for Remote Working

We have previously discussed the Agile way of working at length. In fact, at DCSL, we regularly use it to develop software.

So, how is the Agile team structure key to efficient software development? As the name suggests, an Agile way of working means adapting to feedback quickly.

Instead of doing a large chunk of work and potentially losing all those hours if the needs of the project change, this method relies on smaller goals achieved over shorter periods of time and then reviewing the needs with the customer throughout the project.

Here are some Agile best practices that could help remote teams be more effective.

Small Teams

Forming smaller sub-project teams means it is easier to coordinate with all members. This is because there are fewer people to communicate with so scheduling team meetings is more convenient.

As a result, people can get together quickly, share ideas and then implement them with fewer delays.

Smaller teams are also more effective at reacting to client input and changing direction based on new feedback. It is much easier to rapidly regroup, reassess the situation and create a new plan where everyone knows their responsibilities when there are fewer people.

Close Collaboration

Agile development requires constant communication both within a team as well as between different team members. This is easier to do when the teams are smaller.

However, it is still something that needs to be developed as a work culture. This is why it is important to invest in tools for remote working and communication platforms, including video chat apps. These tools help team members to effectively communicate through the best possible medium, whether it’s an instant text message or a longer video call.

Prioritising Tasks

An important part of Agile best practices is prioritising tasks. This allows developers to focus on the more important tasks first, before they move on to lower-priority ones.

This can be a good model to follow for remote teams as well. Focusing on high-priority tasks first can allow developers working remotely to efficiently power through their sprint.

Strong Senior Support

Agile processes are dependent on teamwork. Since the aim is to get quick, yet high-quality results, it is important for team members to rely on each other to get tasks completed efficiently. In such cases, instead of a developer spending excessive time to solve a problem they are struggling with, it can be more efficient to get a senior member involved. This way, no one spends an inordinate amount of time trying to complete a task.

Similarly, when working remotely, having strong senior support can help software developers complete their work quickly and efficiently. They can unblock themselves to get on with other tasks while complex problems are worked on by more experienced colleagues.

Regular Meetings

Agile methodology relies heavily on constant communication. One part of this process is regular meetings, like daily stand-ups and retrospectives at the end of each sprint.

When working remotely, these regular meetings can provide a platform for team members to communicate their plans as well as express any concerns. It helps people discuss issues to resolve them. In some cases, these catch-up meetings can push quieter team members to speak up where they might have otherwise remained silent.

These meetings can also be key to creating better, more effective processes.

Well-Defined Processes

In order to deliver results quickly, Agile methods require very well-defined processes. As a result, developers can hit the ground running with clear guidelines on what is expected from them.

Whilst working remotely, it is equally important to have procedures that have been communicated to everyone in the team. Whether it is reviewing the code or reporting bugs, standardised procedures (that are constantly assessed for efficiency and efficacy) can help make remote software development smoother.

Conclusion

Whilst working remotely might not seem very conducive to teamwork at first, it is still possible to get excellent results by using Agile methodology. Simply by adapting the way software development teams work, they can deliver excellence, wherever their work desks may be.