Disciplined Agile

How Does Geographic Distribution Affect Tooling Choices?

Geographically distributed agile teams, at least the effective ones, will also use tools which reflect the realities of agile geographically distributed development (GDD). Although index cards are a great way for co-located agile teams to capture high-level requirements such as user stories, you need an electronic strategy for a GDD team. You will need to consider tooling to support:

  1. Long-distance communication. You’ll want to consider investing in videoconferencing tools, teleconferencing tools, chatroom software, and even discussion forum software.
  2. Information sharing. You will need tools to share information between sites. This could be something as simple as a Wiki or a shared folder environment such as Dropbox. You may also want to consider artifact repositories.
  3. Planning and coordination. Geographically distributed teams tend to adopt software such as Jira or Microsoft TFS that enables them to manage their task boards.
  4. Tools to capture diagrams. A simple solution is to capture whiteboard sketches using phone camera and then sharing them via your information sharing strategy. Many teams will use simple diagramming tools, such a SmartDraw or Visio, to capture important diagrams. The advantages of these tools are that it is easy to update the diagrams at a future date. Some teams will even adopt software-based modeling tools, such as Blueprint or Enterprise Architect, to capture their work.