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Team Building2022-11-29

7 Strategies to Manage a Remote Scrum Team Successfully

Get to know the major challenges to encourage a Scrum Remote Team to increase productivity. Learn the best strategies for managing scrum remote teams.
Managing a Remote Scrum Team

The pandemic has been a blessing in disguise for remote culture across the globe. Even after the pandemic, many companies have continued to embrace hybrid work policies and a work from home employee setup. The list goes on to include Airbnb, 3M, and Coinbase. However, with too many boons, come a bit of banes as well. Scrums have been harder to manage in remote, distributed teams. But, many companies still opt for the agile methodology as it allows a flexible workflow to match pace with the workplace's changing requirements.

The core of scrum teams is open communication, transparency, constant improvement, and skill-sharing. It helps businesses to operate in a dynamic environment. However, often managers find it difficult to extract value from a remote scrum team. 

Today, this guide will cover some tried and tested tips to manage remote scrum teams efficiently. But, let us first start by understanding what a remote scrum team is.

What is a Remote Scrum Team?

What is remote scrum team

A remote scrum team is either a partial or complete remote team that adopts a scrum model for daily activities and operations. The team is divided into three parts: product owner, scrum master, and development team (consisting of coders, testers, etc.). 

The product owner is the person to whom the end product is delivered- they may or may not be the end-user. The scrum master is responsible for team functionality by monitoring the work and being the focal point for collaboration. The development team is responsible for technical activities like programming, and testing software. 

Businesses opt for a remote scrum as:

  • It helps the company to work unrestricted beyond geographical boundaries.
  • Distributed teams require it for 24/7 runtime.
  • They end up saving on business space and other capital.
  • The teams can adapt to dynamic environments and evolving customer needs.

But, businesses face some problems when working with distributed teams. The scrum master has to deal with these as they hamper scrum teams’ functionality.

Benefits of Remote Scrum Team

  1. Access to Global Talent: When your Scrum team is remote, you can tap into a talent pool from around the world. This allows you to hire the best people for your project without being restricted by geographical limitations.
  2. Cost Savings: Remote teams often lead to cost savings. You can avoid expenses associated with maintaining a physical office, such as rent, utilities, and office supplies. Additionally, labor costs in some regions may be more competitive than in others.
  3. Increased Productivity: Many remote workers report higher productivity levels. They often have more control over their work environment, which can lead to reduced distractions and increased focus on tasks.
  4. Flexible Scheduling: Remote Scrum teams can work across different time zones, which can be advantageous for round-the-clock development or support. It allows you to extend your working hours without requiring team members to work outside their preferred time slots..

Major Challenges in a Remote Scrum Team

Even though remote scrum teams offer a wide range of functionality, the manager faces three core challenges in team management. These could reduce efficiency, increase churn, and lead to poor team relations.

  1. Communication Gap: Since the teams work virtually and have less direct or real-time contact, it can widen the communication gap. Oftentimes the crucial details are missed, and product updates are delayed. As a result, the team members end up repeating the same work, affecting their productivity. This communication gap fosters an unhealthy environment among the team leading to reduced trust, conflicts and missing deliverables. 
  2. Disorganized Project Knowledge: Remote scrum teams lack real-time communication due to time zone differences, delaying communication, product updates, blockers, and work progress. The product updates are not synced and members are working independently leading to incoherent project knowledge. A lot of product and project knowledge that gets shared over the calls, casual catch-ups and in-person meetings while working in the office goes in the dark in a remote or hybrid setup. There are missing pieces of product information that set back work progress, thus increasing the number of blockers and backlogs.
  3. Working in Silos: Remote teams compel certain team members to work alone. They work on their own with no real-time updates and scarce project knowledge. Any blocker that might arise is moved to the next sprint cycle, which stacks the backlog. Unlike traditional teams, they do not have access to immediate feedback or real-time problem-solving. It also impacts the workflow negatively.  

However, the right tools and measures can tackle these issues. Both the scrum master and development team needs to be flexible and adapt new customs to make virtual scrum a success.

7 Strategies to Successfully Manage Remote Scrum Team

Agile scrum way to lead remote teams

For any remote scrum team to be successful, it should follow the core scrum values of transparency, clear communication, and continuous improvement. The team's success entirely depends on collaboration, communication, and transparency. The remote scrum team should have a solid plan that has the following strategies:

1. Focus on Collaboration

Collaboration tools are crucial to bring all the team members of the remote scrum team together for comprehensive and coherent product knowledge and development. However, time differences can be a road blocker for seamless collaboration and communication. Hence, managers should focus on asynchronous communication which involves the team to collaborate without real-time interactions. The collaboration channels should be relevant, accessible, and transparent to leverage them rightfully. Three basic tools to facilitate collaboration are:

  1. Whiteboards: Traditional offices use work progress boards for discussing product plans, blockers, and work progress. Whiteboards, like Miro and Zoom, could help the teams to replicate that environment with a digital whiteboard.
  2. Project management tools: Project management tools like ClickUp allows managers to allot work and track progress of the team members. Also, it enables them to assign tasks to individual team members and create sprints beforehand.
  3. Communication tools (Chanty, Slack, Microsoft Teams): Communication tools help to discuss work progress, blockers, and product updates to have unified project knowledge.

Tips to Increase Collaboration

  • Set clear guidelines for asynchronous communication, such as response times and update schedules.
  • Use collaboration tools like Miro, Zoom, or virtual whiteboards to replicate the in-office environment.
  • Ensure that all team members have access to and are comfortable with the chosen collaboration tools.

2. Use the Right Project management Tool

Project management tool selection should be done carefully. It needs to increase efficiency and handle the workload of a virtual scrum team. The tool needs to be able to:

  1. Track realistic sprints
  2. Add assignee to avoid ambiguities
  3. Schedule tasks with realistic deadlines
  4. Scale tasks and reduce stress for internal teams
  5. Update work progress in real-time. 

A better work progress tracking process helps in efficient sprint planning and task allocation. Also, the work progress is easier to review as everything is centralized on a single platform.

Tips to Use the Right Project Management Tool

  • Carefully evaluate project management tools based on your team's specific needs, such as tracking sprints, assigning tasks, and real-time updates.
  • Choose a tool that integrates well with your collaboration and communication tools for seamless workflow.

3. Scrum Flexibility

A virtual scrum team needs to be flexible to ensure the work is completed with no extra backlogs. For instance, a daily standup at 9 am sharp might not be feasible for all the members. Instead, shifting to an activity tool where all the members would update and remain in sync is better for remote scrum teams. Your end goal should be to attain the end goal and not strictly follow the SOPs. If you can increase efficiency with tweaks here and there, then your team should embrace those changes.

Tips to Increase Flexibility

  • Adopt a culture of adaptability where team members are open to making small changes for better efficiency.
  • Regularly review and adjust your team's processes to identify areas for improvement.

4. Better Sprint Planning

Sprint planning is crucial for a scrum team. It is the core of work progress. A manager needs to measure the work done, backlog, and current tasks allocated and proactively plan sprints for the team. It requires constant updates from the team and effort from the manager’s end. Managers should use data from previous sprints to measure, analyze gaps, and enhance sprint planning.

Tips for Better Sprint Planning

  • Use data from previous sprints to inform your planning and allocation of tasks.
  • Collaborate with your team to understand their capacity and workload when planning sprints.
  • Continuously monitor and adjust sprint plans as needed based on real-time progress.

5. Centralized Information

Secondary backlog, constant updates, and multiple tools have one main goal to centralize information. Centralized information is vital to keep teams in sync and build transparency. Often scrum teams face the issue of duplication of work or misinformation. A centralized base helps in tackling such problems. Also, the manager could document all the vital project information to ensure data consistency throughout the team.

Tips for Better Centralizing Information

  • Ensure all project-related information is stored in a centralized location that all team members can access.
  • Implement version control and document management systems to avoid duplication and ensure data consistency.

6. Feedback, Progress Updates, and Project Visibility

Feedback and sprint retrospectives are great starting points for measuring work progress. Additionally, regular standups highlight work progress and assist in planning sprints accordingly. Analytics tools like Hatica assist in measuring the progress of your distributed development teams. It is a comprehensive platform that tracks your team’s work progress by integrating with different developer tools. It helps you identify bottlenecks until the deployment of issues. The manager gets insights into cycle time which help in better sprint planning. From burnout to unbalanced workload, Hatica highlights all the gaps in your virtual scrum team.

  • Trust - Collect feedback, sprint retrospectives and team reaction using insights from data from tools like Hatica
  • Self-reliance -¬† sets realistic expectations and helps the teams to communicate better
  • Continuously optimize processes and workflows - improves communication, efficiency, and the project's overall performance

Tips for Better Progress Update

  • Schedule regular feedback sessions and sprint retrospectives to gather insights and identify areas for improvement.
  • Use analytics tools like Hatica to track work progress, identify bottlenecks, and optimize your team's performance.
  • Share progress updates and project visibility through centralized dashboards or reporting tools.

7. Promoting Self Reliance

Promoting self-reliance is crucial in scrum development, where teamwork is vital. Team members should take responsibility for their tasks and how they help the team. It's important to set clear expectations for everyone and make sure they do their part. But it's also okay to ask for help when needed, as problems will come up, and having support is important.

Interestingly, working together and talking about what each person is doing and what they can handle is a big part of being self-reliant in this situation.

Tips for promoting self-reliance

  • Encourage individuals to make their own decisions, consider the consequences, and take responsibility for their choices.
  • Support individuals in finding solutions to challenges on their own, promoting problem-solving skills and self-confidence.
  • Help individuals set achievable goals and expectations to prevent frustration and build a sense of accomplishment.

Are Scrum Remote Teams Worth the Effort?

70% of companies are planning to opt for a hybrid work model. Remote scrum teams may replace traditional work teams eventually. Hence, managers should focus on planning and tool deployment to manage remote scrum teams seamlessly. 

The remote scrum teams help managers to adapt to dynamic product requirements. Finding the gaps and using the right counter-strategy can increase employee efficiency. Collaboration tools like Asana, Confluence, Slack, etc., and analytics tools like Hatica become a helping hand to run remote teams effectively when working with distributed teams. 

Remote scrum teams are the need of the hour. With a strategic approach, managers can leverage them to better product delivery and improve workflows.

Request a demo to explore Hatica for getting the most out of your remote scrum practices.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why do Scrum teams fail?

The most common reason for a scrum team failing to meet their sprint goal is mainly because they simply don't have one. The team just hasn't identified and committed to a sprint goal and as such, they haven't got an expert to guide them, and they just push deliver stuff.

2. What are the disadvantages of a remote working scrum team?

When you're not in a shared office, team members will take breaks at slightly different times, may shift their hours a bit, and may have other distractions and challenges at home that mean they're available at somewhat different hours. The challenge is even greater if your remote team is spread across time zones.

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Table of Contents
  • What is a Remote Scrum Team?
  • Benefits of Remote Scrum Team
  • Major Challenges in a Remote Scrum Team
  • 7 Strategies to Successfully Manage Remote Scrum Team
  • 1. Focus on Collaboration
  • 2. Use the Right Project management Tool
  • 3. Scrum Flexibility
  • 4. Better Sprint Planning
  • 5. Centralized Information
  • 6. Feedback, Progress Updates, and Project Visibility
  • 7. Promoting Self Reliance
  • Are Scrum Remote Teams Worth the Effort?
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • 1. Why do Scrum teams fail?
  • 2. What are the disadvantages of a remote working scrum team?

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