Telecommuting Teams with Agile Projects

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Joshua Render has a master’s degree in science in administration with a concentration in information resource management, and a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems. He holds certifications in agile, Six Sigma and ITIL. He is currently an IT project manager. He has worked as a software engineer and an analyst, and has managed several (agile and predictive) projects.

It may seem counter to the “rules” of agile, but distributed, telecommuting agile teams can be more effective than their colocated peers, and most of what you have to do to be successful are things you should already be doing.

The Agile Manifesto and Face-to-Face Communication

“The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.”

Agile Manifesto (Beck et al., 2001)

Face-to-face communication is typically described as communication without using some sort of technology to facilitate that communication. It is also how most people are more comfortable communicating complex ideas. It allows for a back-and-forth exchange of ideas and allows you to see the other person and read nonverbal cues. There is no questioning the effectiveness of face-to-face communication.

The Agile Manifesto (Beck, et al.) was written in 2001, and the world has changed substantially since that time. I am not going to claim that technology has improved so much that face-to-face communication is no longer the best way to communicate, but I will claim that the advantages of telecommuting and a distributed team more than make up for the shortfalls in not being able to communicate face to face.

There are good alternatives to face-to-face communication; video-calling applications such as …

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