One of the scaling factors faced by teams is geographic distribution – how distant are team members from each other? A team that is collocated will coordinate their work differently than a team that is different locations in the same time zone and differently yet again than a team that is distributed globally. Disciplined Agile (DA) includes the Coordinate Activities process goal which captures advice for how to coordinate between locations, as you can see in Figure 1.
Let’s review each option for coordinating between locations, in order of effectiveness:
- Move team to a single location. Everyone on the team is moved to a common location, ideally a team workroom. In short, address the actual challenge of geographic distribution.
- Gather physically at critical times. People come together at a single location, typically to have a working session to work through an important issue such as deciding on a strategy for upcoming work. This will enable them to make critical decisions quickly with a wider range of collaboration.
- Adopt collaborative tools. Teams can adopt collaborative tools (such as chat software, videoconferencing, or discussion group software) to interact with one another. This strategy is depicted in Figure 2.
- Ambassadors. An ambassador, see Figure 2, is someone who travels between locations, working at the location for a period before returning to their "home location". A common strategy is to spend alternating weeks at each location.
- Boundary spanners. Boundary spanners are responsible for coordinating communication between sites as depicted in Figure 2. They look for opportunities to help people at different sites to communicate with one another when needed, working with the boundary spanner at the other site to do so.
The advantages and disadvantages of each of these strategies are captured for this process goal in the DA Browser.