Making Agile work with remote resources

Subject: Making Agile work with remote resources
From: Alison Wyld <alison -dot- wyld -at- wyld-home -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Fri, 8 Jun 2012 13:00:07 +0200

I've done some archive searching and googling, but haven't found anything
that addresses this precise situation.

I work (slightly less that half time) as the onsite interface person for an
off-site, off-shore writing team. (Located in the same time-zone as our
client). The team has access to the client's corporate network, so can
connect to in-house tools, use email, and also the in-house "chat" tool.
Developer teams tend to be multi-site and multi timezone, and much work is
done on the phone and via video conf. The reason for offshoring was of
course financial. Most projects are run in a fairly traditional way and
after a few years of experience, we've got things more or less working
smoothly... with heavy reliance on specification documents and so on, plus
over the phone briefings.

One of the teams we work with is made up of people who are all located on
my local site. They have decided to move to an Agile model, and want me to
tell them how we can make this work with a remote writing team. All the
reading I've been doing talks about co-locating the writer, integrating
them completely into the team etc. But this isn't an option for us. Does
anyone have any experience with this sort of scenario ? I'm local, but only
assigned to work <half time for this client, which works out at about 4
hours per week for this particular project . I guess I could spend my 4
hours attending their meetings and then summarizing to the remote writer -
but I'm thinking that isn't going to be very efficient. So maybe getting
the writer to dial in would be better ?

They are talking about having sprints that are 3 weeks long. in an ideal
world I guess that every appropriate User Story would have a corresponding
Doc-related User story - but 3 weeks doesn't feel like much elapsed time to
develop anything.

Oh yes, budgets mean that the writer assigned to this team is unlikely to
be able to work on it more than half time - she will also be responsible
for another major project, in a more traditional model, at the same time.
Which means we can't use up too great a percentage of her time with
meetings.

Options that are not open to me: move resource on site, get more budget for
more resource, change the model from Agile back to Waterfall.

On the plus side, the writer is bright and up for a challenge. We are also
already in DITA, and I'm figuring that modularity is going to be the key to
this. Our network access might also be a plus.

Any experience out there on how to make the remote-working nature of a
situation like this work ? Right now I feel a bit like I'm being told to
draw a triangle but make sure it has 5 sides.

I will of course summarize back.

Many thanks

Alison Wyld

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