COVID-19 is here and everyone is remote. Where do you start?

Everything can be an opportunity if you make it one.  In the past three weeks everything from sports events to schools and anything non-essential has been cancelled in support of social distancing.  Your Agile teams and all surrounding departments are now all remote. Where do you start?  

Set up working agreement sessions.  

The working agreement session is designed to talk through team roles and responsibilities, definition of done, definition of ready, communication plan, emergency plan, conflict resolution plan, and team rules.  In the instance where your company goes from some remote to all remote, this would work a little differently. No matter where you are in your teams, stop right now and have a one hour working agreement session.  Make sure everyone’s webcam is on to ensure people are paying attention and maintaining their presence in the meeting.

The first item to be covered is the communication strategy: 

  • What tools will we use to communicate? (Jira, Azure DevOps, Slack, Hip Chat, etc.)
  • How often are we going to check in with each other? Note: Agile teams will have a daily standup
  • What is the emergency communication strategy when new priorities displace other work items?
  • What tools do we have set up for the work overall (between teams and on teams)?  How is this going to work for everyone?
  • What is your email rule?  How many emails will it take to call an online meeting?

The second item to be covered is roles and responsibilities:

  • Who is the team lead, Scrum Master, etc? What is their role?
  • Who is the Product Manager? Who is the Product Owner? What is their role?
  • What roles do the team own?  What is expected of them?

Team Work Levels

  • What is the work in progress (WIP) limit for the team?  The general rule is if there are 10 members on a team, then the work in progress limit needs to be either 10 or 12.  The WIP limit is a lean concept designed to allow focus on one thing at a time to fruition and then work on the next.  
  • What swim lanes do you have set up in your Kanban board?  Many teams have 5 -7 swim lanes and at a minimum of fixed (fixed date), expedited, and standard (no fixed date).  This can be tweaked for whatever you teams need

Technical Questions

  • What access levels does everyone need for software tools, release management, VPN, and such that they don’t have already?
  • What is the backup protocol if your communication tool doesn’t work? For example, if Webex is down, Zoom would be utilized. 

The goal of this communication speaks to COVID-19 and emergency remote situations.  In the future, it would be good to have a cohesive backup plan set in place. Let us know if we can help in anyway as we are happy to help and have worked with several industries and organizations regarding this issue as well.