Agile2009 is the yearly conference of the Agile Alliance. This year we are in the windy city, Chicago. With over 1350 participants, 300 presentations and over 1500 initial submissions, this conference really is the cream of the crop on Agile software development. This year I had the honor of presenting a case study on Fully Distributed Scrum together with Jeff Sutherland, co-founder of Scrum. We presented about a Xebia client located in San Francisco working with our office in new Delhi using a single hyperproductive distributed Scrum team! Thats right, hardcore Agile results across all timezones, culture, language etc.
In previous work Jeff and I have explained the secret sauce of Fully Distributed Scrum and explained the repeatable recipe. However, those case studies used the window of time overlap between Europe and India to have most communications. The United States and India do not have this luxury. The time difference between San Francisco and New Delhi is absolute. There is 12.5 hours difference, so no matter where you go on this planet, it will not get any worse then that!
What is Fully Distributed Scrum?
Offshoring classically is performed in a waterfall process fashion, meaning that one party writes specifications and chucks them over the wall to the other party who then chucks a software product back after a period of time. When evolved to Agile software development, this is the last thing you want to do. However you do need to deal with the distance between your local staff and your talent in an offshore location. The only way to get the benefits of both Agile development (hyperproductivity with high quality and motivated people) and the benefits of offshoring (lower costs, availability of talent, up/downscaling with no risk) is to apply Agile to the offshoring dilemma. Xebia has made this the core practice and differentiator of our offshored development. At Xebia we create teams with engineers on multiple locations. These run Scrum Sprints where the teammembers on both locations share a single sprint backlog and a single sprint goal. The entire team is responsible for the result and there is a very flat hierarchy and a sense of equality. This mechanism is called Fully Distributed Scrum.
The case study
TBD.com, a social networking company, is located in San Francisco. For a period of 8 months they have extended their staff with Xebia India working in a Fully Distributed Scrum fashion. In order to get this fully working we have had to make a number of adjustments to the Scrum cycle. Over the period that we worked together the business success factors (number of members and activity per member) quadrupled! Have a look at the whitepaper and the presentation for all the details on how to make such an engagement work. Download article Download presentation The room was great, about 75 enthusiastic people with some very sharp questions.