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5 ways to empower remote development teams

It's hard to maintain productivity when you work from home. Take up these remote dev and test practices to keep software projects on track despite the obstacles.

Teams can and must release software during disruptive global events. Working from home, remote development team members need to turn in deliverables at pace.

A remote development team must duplicate -- or make up for -- what a collocated team is capable of. To succeed during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, remote software development teams must communicate and collaborate more effectively than an office-bound team in normal circumstances.

Check out these articles to strategize for remote work on DevOps, Scrum and Agile teams. Learn how other developers and testers remain productive on distributed software teams. And prepare for the challenges that working from home presents.

1. How DevOps teams cope with disruptions

Remote work arrangements are tricky for DevOps teams. With DevOps, organizations aim to comingle different teams, such as developers, operations and security. When those team members are separated, it's difficult to foster close collaboration, fast feedback loops and quick releases. Distributed DevOps teams face disruptions like changes to work schedules, limited access to crucial tools and new communication protocols.

See what practices newly remote DevOps teams have adopted, reported by senior news writer Beth Pariseau. Tips for remote work in DevOps teams include:

  • standardize communication and collaboration tools;
  • create a centralized work queue;
  • make work visible and measurable;
  • shrink work increments to ensure software quality;
  • don't micromanage team members; and
  • use slow time to catch up on back-burner projects.

2. When full-time distributed development is the norm

Developers, testers and IT professionals settling into makeshift home offices need guidelines on how to be effective. Many of their peers already work remotely, often in coordination with external contractors, colleagues and customers. Look to these remote workers to pick up helpful strategies.

To foster productive remote development teams, organizations can draw on these practices and experiences compiled by George Lawton, a veteran tech journalist.

Newly remote corporate developers, for example, can take lessons from their contributions to open source side projects. In those instances, developers work asynchronously to complete work on projects.

3. Deal with remote software testing challenges

QA teams that have never tested remotely must surmount technical, process-oriented and cultural challenges. Issues include how to collaborate virtually, procure off-site resources and manage asynchronous work schedules. Adjustments to workplace culture can help just as much as -- if not more than -- new tools.

Follow these best practices for remote QA work from Gerie Owen, an experienced test manager. For example, communicate more frequently with team members, with more detail and context than usual. Owen also offers advice for organizations that lack sufficient network capacity for remote QA resources.

4. Make distributed Agile teams efficient and collaborative

Many enterprises must make distributed Agile development work.

Read how to manage distributed Agile development and its various challenges, as detailed by software architect and technical advisor Joydip Kanjilal. He outlines, for example, what practices a remote development team can adopt to fulfill the values and principles of Agile. To improve camaraderie, a team might host regular video conferences. To better collaborate, they could adopt SaaS tools for screen sharing. And to keep projects on track, distributed teams can reduce handoffs.

The stakes of a remote software project's planning activities are often higher than for collocated teams that adapt as they go. Clear communication and collaboration make remote Agile possible.

5. Get distributed Scrum going

For a distributed Scrum team to succeed, it must enforce the successful practices, tools and workflows of a collocated team. Remote Scrum teams that fall short will see developer productivity, sprints and collaboration suffer.

Scrum necessitates unique roles. The Scrum Master, product owner and development team all must adapt to fulfill their remote work responsibilities. Use tools and adjust processes accordingly. For example, use a digital Scrum board to replace your workplace whiteboard and paper notes. Rather than walking with a co-worker to discuss an idea, reach out via a messaging tool.

A distributed Scrum team can replicate -- or compensate for -- foundational elements of a collocated one by following these four steps, outlined by Scrum Master Diane Hoffman.

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