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Why Enterprises Should Embrace Distributed Agile Teams

Track: Community & Business | Skill level: Intermediate

Most software development today follows the agile methodology. It’s faster and more efficient. But what happens when you are looking to scale your operations, without compromising on the pace of development, or the level of expertise?

This session is designed for technical as well as business stakeholders involved in a development project. The level of knowledge needed is beginner to intermediary.

This session examines what distributed scrum teams are, how they work, the challenges to expect and how enterprises can solve them.

So the first question that perhaps comes to one's mind is what are distributed agile teams? And after all isn't scrum about co-location, so why have distributed agile teams at enterprises or otherwise?

If the teams working on a particular product are distributed in nature from time zone and physical geography perspective, that's what we call distributed teams.

When we're looking to scale our businesses, we run into the challenge of skills. Sometimes, some of the skills that we're looking for are very rare in the same geography. And, since the scaling up is driven by fast-changing market conditions. We don't have much time to really sit down and look at hiring locally and building a team. We want to be in a place where the team is ready, comes on-board and gets things started. And these are the reasons why we go beyond borders and start looking in other locations to bring in such a team.

There are multiple challenges with taking this route. I think integrating different cultures is the biggest challenge. During a part of the session, I’ll be focusing on some of these challenges and how we can address them.

“There is a perfect world, then there is our world." And I'm find that for most distributed virtual teams can work and do work. But you need a leader who knows how to enable virtual teams. Since this is not a commonplace skill, hence co-location is highly recommended.

So this is true for a lot of teams. They are unable to build a good distributed team because of the lack of that level of leadership. Reverting to co-location and not building that leadership is not a solution that the current market really needs or requires. So we need to apply some proven emergent practices and patterns that are coming up with more and more teams trying out this model. And doing continuous rigorous improvements, sprint by sprint, is the way to go, to build this kind of a distributed team.

I mean it's inevitable because the business demands it, right? And the second thing is that co-location is the easy answer, but distributed teams is, yes, more difficult, but you need excellent leadership within the organizations, within the enterprises, which can make distributed teams work.

How do you structure such teams, Agile teams and scrums teams, POs and SMs and their architecture, and of course, where do they reside?

We've started treating Agile and scrum as more about the cultural transformation of a company. The way of working, everything needs change etc., but sometimes we put scrum in the bucket a pure process, but I always think of scrum as an organizational design framework. And how do you design an organization to achieve agility within our teams, within our mission, how do we respond to the market—that's critical.

It's basically about being competitive in a fast-changing world. There is no other choice than to create distributed teams and experiment with it and learn fast. What the leadership really believes, what their value system or principles are - that's critical too.

Slide URL

Keynote Speakers

Matt Glaman

Matt Glaman

(Saturday keynote)

Matt Glaman is a developer at Commerce Guys. He is an open source developer who has been working with Drupal since 2013. He is author of the Drupal 8 Development Cookbook, maintainer of, and lover of Irish Whiskey.

Twitter: @nmdmatt

Jeffrey A 'JAM' McGuire

Jeffrey A. "jam" McGuire

(Sunday keynote)

Jeffrey A. "jam" McGuire—Evangelist, Developer Relations at Acquia—is a memorable and charismatic communicator with a strong following at the intersection of open source software, business, and culture. He is a frequent keynote speaker at events around the world. He writes and talks about technology, community, and more on weekly podcasts and as a blogger on This all helps satisfy his inner diva, which he also feeds with performances as a storyteller and musician.

Twitter: @horncologne

Danese Cooper

Danese Cooper

(Sunday closing keynote)

Danese Cooper currently serves as chairperson of the Node.js Foundation. She also works in an open source role at PayPal. Previously she was Director of the Open Source Hardware Association and CTO of the Wikimedia Foundation. She had brief stint at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as a consulting open source strategist. She has been involved with open source since 1999.

Twitter: @divadanese

CxO Day Speakers

Sarah Wood OBE

Unruly Co-Founder (CEO)

Sarah Wood

David Axmark

Co-founder of MySQL

David Axmark

Ben Finn OBE

Co-Founder of Sibelius and CEO at Stealth Poker

Ben Finn

Barney Brown

Head of Digital at Cambridge University

Barney Brown

Professor Andre Spicer

Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Cass Business School City, University London

Andre Spicer

Paul Reeves

Reevo UN Limited

Paul Reeves



CxO Day

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