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How to Successfully Build an Agile, Globally Distributed Team

Ratan Das

Senior Project Manager, EPAM India
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  • TechTalk

When a Fortune 500 financial services company turned to our team to deliver a GDPR implementation in eight months, we were excited to tackle the project. The implementation’s tight timeline and dynamic requirements provided an interesting challenge; one that we were confident we could accomplish by applying agile methodology, despite having five distributed scrum teams of more than 50 people across Hyderabad, US and Pune.

When it comes to globally distributed teams, the biggest deterrent to implementing agile methodology is, not surprisingly, physical location. Some of the factors that must be considered to effectively implement agile methodology include team efficiency and productivity, real-time implementation feedback and team alignment. Throughout the project, our team also needed to manage evolving business requirements while technical implementations were already underway. Additionally, each customer product used a different method of communication, which meant that our team needed to frequently adapted to changing scenarios.

At the end of the project, our team not only successfully deployed more than 500 client products on the GDPR platform in the scheduled timeline, but they also developed a working model of managing a distributed team using agile philosophy. In response, we developed the following framework for how to successfully build globally distributed agile teams:

A well-functioning agile team is all about frequent communication, collaborative problem-solving, and a devotion to continuous improvement. We took these basic pillars of agile methodology and applied them to distributed teams. Two of the most critical characteristics that impacted the team’s efficiency were the frequent checkpoints and timely feedback the team received. This meant the teams got the information on time, and were able to iron out issues quickly before the deployment stage. Another factor that helps is continuous recognition and appreciation on a job well done. This kept the team motivated to deliver their best results.