We sometimes have physically colocated teams making training, but for other projects we’ve drawn on talent from across the United States.

While learning from the literature about software teams' use of Agile, many pushed for colocating teams. We agree that whenever possible this is the highest bandwidth interaction method for teams to collaborate and build products together. However, for our current conditions, the choice is not as simple and is influenced by many other factors.

Applying Lean-Agile to Colocated Teams

Applying Lean-Agile to colocated teams is cheaper if you can find a wall space for your Kanban board. The budget is for office supplies. The following is a partial list of what you will need:

  • Locate a whiteboard, cork board, or large glass window.

  • Find enough room near the board for all the team members and any stakeholders to attend standing up.

  • Draw columns the board that represent your workflow.

  • Get lots of sticky notes.

  • Get wide tip markers, so the team can see the card text from 3-6 feet (1-2 meters) away.

  • Ask team members to identify avatar pictures to attach to work item cards.

  • Set a team rule that team members must update the position of their work item cards on the Kanban board at least daily before the standup meeting.

Applying Lean-Agile to Geographically Dispersed Teams

Applying Lean-Agile to geographically dispersed teams is functionally the same, but the tools are different. A partial list of the tools you will need follows:

  • License a virtual Kanban board ($5-$15 per month, per user), ideally one with batch import of work items from a spreadsheet, automated analytics and with activity history that has a timestamp of when each card moved to each column (work step).

  • Configure the board with columns representing your workflow.

  • Upload team member avatar images to the virtual Kanban board app.

  • Set a team rule that team members must update the position of their work item cards on the Kanban board at least daily before the standup meeting.

  • Find a way to conference call all the team members and any stakeholders attending.

  • Either have everyone log in at the same time or use a screen casting app to share one view to all.

All the normal daily standup actions apply to both types of team.

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