ThoughtWorks Distributed Agile Approach

Software development teams around the world have been trying to solve the riddle of distributed development for years. The problem is so thorny because software development is, at its core, based on communication. Unfortunately, the annals of software development history are crammed with sad stories of distributed projects gone wrong.

ThoughtWorks has spent almost ten years refining our distributed Agile approach. Fully integrated into ThoughtWorks’ global delivery organization, our approach to distributed development is based on transparency, highly-disciplined Agile, and technical excellence.

“The use of a Distributed Agile methodology, requiring close communication between IT and business stakeholders, delivered key business requirements – and thus benefits – sooner.”
Forrester Consulting, Total Economic Impact Report

Distributed Agile Illustrated

A video conference meeting between distributed teams in progress.

 

Story Wall - A dashboard used to visibly track stories through their life cycle. User stories are written on index cards, and the location of each card on the wall provides information about its status.

 

 

Pairing - An Agile technique in which two people work on the same code on one computer - one writing code and the other reviewing.A video conference meeting between distributed teams in progress.

 

ThoughtWorks University - Our 6-week program to induct new graduate hires. The consultant training program comprises facilitated class-room sessions, and individual performance coaching and review.

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Succeeding with Distributed Agile

Although distributed Agile is challenging, with the right practices it is not only possible, but can be highly productive. People, processes, and technology have a role to play in delivering these projects successfully. Agile practices like inception, showcases, short iterations, pairing and retrospectives ensure that we deliver well tested, high quality, production ready software. We implement both development and process best-practices such as automated testing, continuous integration, application of patterns, iterative development and periodic retrospectives to deliver working software in 2 – 4 week iterations. Use of intelligent communication media such as web cameras, video conferencing, chat and cubicle-free working environment further enhances communication and visibility which augments the results achieved on our projects.

Process
We use Agile practices like inception, showcases, short iterations, pairing and retrospectives which ensure that we deliver well tested, high quality, production ready software.

People
Constant cross-pollination between geographically distributed teams helps build relationships, ensures smooth knowledge transfer, and increases visibility. ThoughtWorks is home to thought-leaders and world-class innovators in every area of software development.

Technology
We engage in best practices such as continuous integration, refactoring, test-driven development and test automation to meet your most complex enterprise software development challenges.

ThoughtWorks founder Roy Singham speaks on the Distributed Agile approach

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Scaling with Distributed Agile

Learn how UK’s leading independent retailer of online train tickets, thetrainline.com, rebuilt its website and core processing platform in record time using ThoughtWorks’ Global Delivery model. In what has now become one of the largest known Agile projects, a distributed team of approximately 200 people delivered a Web 2.0 solution supporting 8.6 million registered users, with speed that was fundamental to thetrainline.com’s success in a rapidly evolving market.

Reference: Technical Foundations of Distributed Agile – What IT Leaders Need to Know

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Success Stories

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Testimonials

“We needed a partner who could demonstrate proven credentials in this particular type of project, provide a robust development team and had the ability to innovate and be creative around the challenges – we felt that ThoughtWorks met all of these requirements.” 
– James Tatam – E4.com Business Manager

“In addition to giving our authors the red carpet-like, celebrity-style treatment they deserve, our new site is designed to immediately engage the visitor, better enable search, and foster discovery. It provides the tools to help both the dedicated and casual reader make educated choices, use viral methods to share information and opinions, and generate that all-important virtual word of mouth.” 
– Ellie Hirschhorn – Executive Vice President & Chief Digital Officer, Simon & Schuster Inc.

“Industry experts explained to us that it was not feasible to build a system with this breadth and depth of functionality from the ground up. We are competing with products that have taken years to develop, many of them over 20 years. Not only did we get a fantastic product to market in a short time that embraces all the functionality our clients need, we are adding unique functionality that reflects the latest changes in a rapidly evolving marketplace. This includes automated regulator compliance, automated business processes, transactions on-line with customers and partners, and new innovative products to maintain competitive advantage. We are now making the largest sales in the company’s history. ThoughtWorks has been an instrumental partner in the success of agencyPlus and helped bring our vision for an exciting and innovative product to market. I will whole-heartedly recommend the ThoughtWorks’ approach to anyone.” 
– Phillip Walter – CEO, Insurecom

“We undertook a complex, technically challenging and business critical program of work with ThoughtWorks. We trusted them with the success of our future business and they delivered.” 
– David Jack – CIO, thetrainline.com

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References

Webinar: Succeeding with Globally Distributed Agile

Webinar: Technical Foundations of Distributed Agile

Presentation: Making Long Distance Teams Work

Presentation: Distributed Agile – an oxymoron?

Website: www.offshore.thoughtworks.com

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