Research results on Agile and Distributed Teams

In 2012, I was a ProjectsAtWork volunteer to analyze and research best practices for Agile with distributed teams. Agile is not the only way to manage a project that has team members scattered around the globe, but it is very common.
Why Agile is used with a distributed team
Agile is cheaper for distributed teams. It allows project teams greater flexibility. It improves productivity. There are many benefits to this, but these are the most important.
Many people cite the flexibility of distributed teams as a result of using offshore resources. Some people surveyed felt that distributed teams allowed them to choose the best person for the job and not just the person who works in the same office. It allows project managers to choose from a wider resource pool and improve quality.
One of the downsides to having people from all walks of life is that they can cause time differences between teams. Nearly 25% of respondents reported that they had to work with a time difference of more than 9 hours. It’s not surprising that the majority of respondents said it was more difficult to work with a distributed team than with a co-located one.
How can you make Agile work in a distributed team?
There are many tips in the report. Here are five of my favorites.
Don’t assume that the same thing that worked on one project will work for another. You can tailor your Agile environment to each team. You can even let your team customize it.
If you outsource or offshore any work, use the same tools as your partner.
Do not offshore individual disciplines. Maintain a multi-functional team at all locations.
Use web conferencing to hold daily stand-up meetings.
Communicate more than you think is necessary, especially when it comes to ensuring that people understand the end goal. This is especially important if there are multiple languages used in your team. Spend time making sure everyone understands what was said.
What does it look like to be an Agile professional?
As part of the research, I created a profile of an Agile professional based on the survey results of approximately 340 people.
An Agile professional with experience
Ages 35-44
is male
Scrum is used
Although he has worked on more than 10 projects, most of these have not been in distributed teams.
IT jobs
Works in the largest and smallest companies
Although he considers himself to be an Agile practitioner, he does not hold a formal qualification.
Poor communication is the greatest challenge for distributed teams, according to experts
Works in a company with less than 20% of the project manager being Agile project managers.

Although I expected more women to respond, there aren’t many women who have worked as Agile professionals. Do you have any ideas?
Get the report
Get your free copy of Agile Distributed Team: Achieving the Rewards.
Update 2021: The report itself now seems impossible to find but it’s probably on the website somewhere. You can find a slide deck that summarizes the main points of the report here.
Although there is a small section of acknowledgements within the report, I would like to personally thank the following Agile experts who allowed me to interview them for this research:
Raja Bavani is the Chief Architect of MindTree’s Product Engineering Services (PES), and IT Services (ITS).
Jonathon Ende, CEO at Bizodo Software Development Company
Philip Black, Chief Operating officer at Agile professional services firm Emergn
Scott Ambler, Chief Methodologist Agile and Lean at IBM Rational
Jimi Fosdick is a CollabNet Scrum trainer and Agile process coach.
J. Lance Reese, President, technology consulting firm Silver Peak Consulting, Inc.
Curt Finch, CEO at Journyx
Mik Kersten, CEO of Tasktop Technologies, Inc
Mike DeVries, CMO at GlobalLogic
Todd Olson, Vice President Products at Rally

This is what I can do for my clients. You can hire me if you wish.