Agile methodologies work best for everyone when all the stakeholders work together as a team while in one location. This is because when team members share a workspace, teammates can ask questions, solve minor issues without scheduling meetings, and pair on programming tasks. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, some companies have decided to have their employees work from home. In this case, software developers have to rely on using group chats, web conferencing, and email. But, these tech solutions are not as effective as person-to-person or direct interactions.
As most software development companies chose to go remote, they have to adapt to Agile practices while maintaining the quality of their software products. Agile methodology helps companies achieve customer satisfaction, but to achieve this, it requires people to solve issues together as a team. Here we look at the five agile software development challenges while working from home and their solutions.
1. Reducing Productivity
When it comes to working from home, the biggest challenge is reduced productivity due to the environment. At home, there are many distractions from kids, loud neighbors, nearby construction, or other simple things such as a comfortable bed, a cute pet, and much more. This is normal as we are social beings.
However, the problem with working from home is that Agile methodology relies on productivity to manage to respond to the requirements of your project successfully. For the WFH group, employees may fail to feel responsible or withstand the distraction by working alone rather than in a team.
Solution: Agile methodology is highly dependent on working together. Thus, you need to respect team members and be accountable to them. In this case, it is important to dedicate as much time as possible to sharing or solving problems with the team members during this tough moment. Although you might not be able to offer solutions to all the challenges that your employees encounter daily, you need to offer them leeway as much as you can.
Besides, you also need to avoid lowering the expectations on your software products. This is by adopting ways to help maintain a high standard of delivery and work ethic. In this case, you need to embrace other methods that guarantee better results during this critical moment in time.
2. Lack of Collaboration
As mentioned above, Agile methodology is a model that mainly depends on people working together to deliver a product and solve problems arising from the development process. In this model, the success in delivering results depends on employees working together in structured intervals, sprint-short of completing the requirements. Thus, working from home (WFH) may interrupt this approach due to a lack of in-person partnership in development and solving problems.
Working from home also kills the collaborative physical environment, which may disrupt the working culture. It also means that employees are not able to establish professional relationships or direct communication. This may affect your ability to provide and receive timely feedback.
Solution: The challenge of lack of in-person collaboration on projects can be addressed by providing extra support and remote WFH tools. Apart from offering business support, you need to encourage team members to support one another and troubleshoot problems when it arises. WFH tools help add more structure to the normal collaboration.
3. Less Communication and Opportunities for Networking
Most people working from home are now finding it hard to stay away from their teams due to the pandemic measures. With agile methodology, these teams experience face-to-face communication every day. Thus, when it comes to a WFH case, many employees may experience a lack of support and also see their overall morale decrease.
Employees are missing small things that present opportunities for communication and networking. These include having lunch together with colleagues, happy hours, coffee breaks with other team members, and more. Such activities, even though small, play a great role in boosting working satisfaction and promoting the overall office culture.
Solution: This challenge can be addressed by providing socialized opportunities and using structured communication. In this case, you can organize a regular team collaboration and meeting to offer an alternative to the in-person relationship. But, these meetings will enable them to reproduce the same vitality level as when they were working from the office with their colleagues. This will make each member comfortable with each other, increasing their productivity and job satisfaction.
Besides, holding a number of meetings in small groups can also help address the challenge. For instance, you can have a happy hours session on Zoom, share personal events, or read an interesting book together.
4. Converting Direct Methods to Remote Environments
Many organizations were unable to implement an agile methodology in their adopted remote environment successfully. Some employees have no access to necessary resources such as a physical scrum table and other requirements. Besides, a change of environment frustrates employees as they are used to working in a certain way and could also disrupt their working process.
Solution: The challenge can be solved by reviewing your working rules and seeking alternative methods to offer a better working environment and results. Therefore, as a leader or a project manager, you need to ensure that each member understands the rules. Make sure they get a refresher of the rules if it has been a while since they reviewed them, especially in tough situations like now.
Additionally, you also need to ensure that you are completely transparent with the expectations that you have on your agile team. Make sure that you are also clear on how they need to adapt in order to meet the set standards. In case of any crucial operational changes, ensure that you inform your employees and share all the necessary procedures.
Lastly, you can also outsource external parties to help you solve problems and modify your methods. Outsourcing software development projects to a team may make it easier for you to effectively solve the problem and transfer from one environment to another.
5. Supervising the Remote Team
Managing an agile team is easy to manage as the members work together, but supervising a remote team is quite a challenge. However, in both cases, leaders need to have a more flexible mindset. Working remotely may also cause the line between the team and manager to become blurred. The main challenge is now monitoring your agile development team from separate locations.
Solutions: The challenge can be addressed by focusing and checking in more on your distribution. This means checking in with your team regularly. However, it is good to ensure that you don’t mistake this approach with micromanagement as you do not need to ask your staff what they are doing daily or how they finish working on their tasks. Instead, you need to check how things go and how the staff manages their responsibility.
Additionally, you should also pay attention to the main principles of the model. The Agile methodology is about building trust and cooperation with the team and between all the stakeholders. It is also advisable to ask them whether there are other ways that you can support them. This helps introduce yourself as an additional resource that can support them in achieving a common goal as a team.
As most companies adopt a working from the home policy to keep projects running in this period, it is good to understand the potential challenges and their solutions. The agile methodology depends on direct communication and collaboration, making it hard for the team to deliver the same results with the current situation. Fortunately, these challenges can be addressed by following the solutions that we have suggested in each case.