When your team is moving at the speed of agile, communication is the force holding it all together. It’s one of the primary laws of physics. You know – gravity, relativity, communication.
Just as everything that goes up will come down, teams that communicate effectively will work faster and better together. Open and frequent communication creates a safe space for teammates to ask questions, share information, and make informed decisions.
So what techniques do successful agile teams use to keep communication flowing like chocolate in Willy Wonka’s factory?
Well, it all depends, and here’s why:
Face it: Focus on interactions and individuals
The Agile Manifesto emphasizes individuals and interactions. Agile teams should prioritize face-to-face conversations as they provides a bevy of cues, both verbal and nonverbal, that help teammates get on the same page.
As the agile method has gained traction, teams of all sizes are now working within the agile framework. Teams are often spread across the globe, and in-person communication simply isn’t always possible. Once teams become distributed, space and time constraints begin to affect the quality of communication between teammates.
Fortunately, technology can help.
Email: Friend or foe?
Today email is the most widely used form of electronic communication. It’s simple to use and straightforward in function. But is it an appropriate tool for agile communication? Usually not.
Email is far from perfect. We’re all familiar with those annoying, endless email chains, which make it inflexible for anything other than a group announcement. But, probably its biggest downfall is the inbox. Since emails sit in your inbox, it’s rare to expect an immediate response.
While email is good for bulletins, announcements, and formal correspondences, agile teams require a more immediate form of communication. Working at the speed of agile means shipping often, learning fast, and continuously improving. To do this, agile teams need tools that work at their speed.
Group chat: Work at the speed of agile, anywhere
Group chat brings your entire team to your fingertips. Regardless of whether you’re co-located in the same space or spread across the globe, group chat gives your team a channel to access other team members. (See also 4 handy HipChat tips for agile, remote teams.)
Special features like video conferencing allow for face-to-face conversation regardless of location, while guest access makes it easy to bring in specialists for specific work. Integrations with other agile tools like JIRA, Confluence, and Bitbucket help your team keep track of sprints, releases, and retrospectives. Chat bots even come equipped with built-in standup and planning poker features.
All these features help your team save time, stay structured, and conduct agile ceremonies, no matter where teammates are.
Agile visionaries believe that teamwork is essential to delivering great software. Great agile teams embody “we” rather than “I.”. If you lead an agile team, finding the right tools will help bridge the gaps of distance and time to make sure your team, no matter how distributed, stays a cohesive unit.
Let’s chat: Are you a part of an agile team? How do you keep your team connected? Join the discussion by commenting below or tweeting us.