Working on a distributed agile team between India and the United Kingdom I've learned a lot about the value of trust and communication in making a distributed agile project such as this successful. When engaging in an agile project that spans multiple continents much of the practices that co-located teams follow are still carried out, although sometimes quite awkwardly.

Practices such as Iteration Planning Meeting's, estimation sessions and even paring can be be done quite effectively over the wire, however some things don't work as well. One thing that we've struggled to be successful with in my opinion is our Technical Debt Wall.

One of the main advantages of having a Technical Debt Wall is that it is up on wall, visible and obvious to everyone. It's a simpletons version of an Information Radiator. The problem with the distributed teams version is that it usually lives online, hidden and tucked away from everyone's constant gaze. Having it online makes it easy for everyone to update but it hides it from everyone's gaze. Noting things end at that, it gets noted and usually forgotten.

Now this also presents a problem with the team, it is the teams job to pay down that debt and it should be everyone's responsibility to keep on top of it, however I feel that the lack of physical wall doesn't help the cause either.

Well whats the solution? Quite simply, I don't know but here are some potential solutions:

  • Make everyone on the team more conscious of the wall and ensure they pay down the debt
  • Maintain the same physical wall in both locations - not the best idea
  • Putting it up along with the build monitor
  • Having reoccurring Technical Debt Retrospectives
This article was first noted down on the 10th of July, 2012.