About Daniel Haughey

Head of Technology for Global Infrastructure and Architecture @ REA, where i have the great pleasure of working with amazing people.

Distributed Agile – Extreme Communication

In my first post on distributed agile I described how our teams are structured.  That’s a foundation piece, but a more interesting aspect of our distributed agile model is how we communicate.

Communication is at the heart of a healthy IT delivery team.  And at REA we believe in the value of face-to-face communication, so much so it’s enshrined in our operating principles.  But isn’t that the very thing that becomes difficult with distributed teams?

Well, If you’ve worked in traditional distributed teams you may have seen the signs of a break down in communication – long overnight emails, long lists of issues and actions, frustration, missed goals, misaligned expectations, poor quality, the occasional stilted video conference call for project updates or to fight fires, etc.

So at REA we practice extreme communication.  In this post I’ll describe some of our practices, but it’s important to understand that good communication is based on strong relationships and trust, and achieving that in a distributed team is difficult, I’ll describe how we do that in another post.

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Distributed Agile

Our IT teams have been working in a distributed agile way for about 3 years now, we’re really pleased with the results.  Distributed working is a challenge, so I’d like share what’s worked for us, I’m confident these can be repeated in many other organisations.

Here’s the basic set up:

Distributed Agile Part I Map

We have 2 delivery centres.  Centre #1 is at our headquarters in Melbourne.  That’s our largest centre with many cross functional teams, each team here including IT delivery, IT operations, product managers, sales and other business folk.  Centre #2 is in China, it is owned and operated by our partner ThoughtWorks, with a focus on software delivery but increasingly other functions too.

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Working with AWS

At REA we’ve been working with AWS for several years now.  It’s an enabler for us to work the way we want to, using techniques such as continuous delivery.  It provides us a global platform on which we serve key elements of our sites,  integrating with our data centers.  Above all, there’s a great cultural alignment between us.  I recently had the opportunity to talk about our relationship, which I’d like to share …