Tencoins Lts is a relatively young startup, founded in 2018 in Malta. Soon it became obvious that office work is not for our team. Developers need freedom to plan their work their way. That’s why Agile was one of the key instruments that enabled a smooth transition from office-based work to remote.
We’ve tried many systems in order to find balance between building MVP, receiving market’s feedback and staying flexible in everchanging market. Experts say that Scrum only works when fully implemented. Well, in our case, we adapt Scrum and Scrum, in turn, adapts to our needs.
Below we’d like to share some of the hacks we found useful during the transition and in our day-to-day activities:
- Since we all work from different countries and have different time zones, we need tools to be able to synchronize with each other. For our communications we use Slack and every day we start with sending a quick status update on our projects. It consists of three parts – what was done the day before, what is to be done on the day and most importantly, we add if we need any help from our colleagues or mention potential risks and whether a project cannot proceed without the involvement of other team members. Whenever such situation arises, we organise a call or private chat to go through the arising issues and find solutions. This way the rest of the team can follow up and help, in case it’s needed.
What we’ve realized is that texts work much better for us, than calls. The processes are transparent, discussions are visible to each team member involved with the project, so no information is lost in communications.
- 2. Agile methodology requires having excellent communications. At first everyone in our team was tempted to discuss business questions in private chats, leaving group chats empty. Now we motivate team members to discuss everything in group chats. Firstly, it enables all team members to be on top of things. And secondly, it makes our team feel connected.
- 3. Remote work often makes employees feel lonely and depressed. We are not just co-workers, but actually a team of like-minded people. Casual after-work drinks in a local bar is not an option for us, nor is travel in times of pandemic. So, in order to maintain the feeling of togetherness and being a team, we organize after-work drinks in Zoom once every three-four weeks. It’s important to make new team members feel welcome, to be able to share fun facts from life, interests and so on.
Tip: Use video calls as much as possible. First of all, it gives a sensation of proximity. It’s much more comfortable to speak to a real person thank to a black screen. And second, you’ll realise that it’s tricky to differentiate between the voices of your colleagues without seeing their faces.
- 4. Sharing is caring. Whenever we discuss projects, we share screens. This helps brings the team together and motivates them to participate more actively in work processes.
- 5. Keeping track Is crucial. No one likes to write things down, organize documents, describe business processes and stages. Especially when a startup is starting to grow. For the development part we use Jira and Confluence is for guidelines. It’s also a useful thing to have an on-boarding document for new employees, where roles and responsibilities, business processes and company rules are described in detail.
- 6. Demo call. We have 2-weeks sprints and at the end of each sprint we have a conference call with the team and the client to discuss each project. When presenting to clients it’s important to abstain from technical staff as much as possible and focus more on functionality and usability.
- 7. Agenda for meetings. For some reason offline meetings never start on time. It takes some time to gather everyone at the agreed time and in the agreed place. Online meetings, on the other hand, make us be on time. But because online meeting (when you’re at home, possibly in your pajamas) seem less formal, it’s very easy to get carried away and start talking about irrelevant things. That’s why we always aim at sticking to the agreed agenda. And after the call one of our team prepares a succinct summary of things that had been discussed during the call. Once again, it’s about preserving transparency of business processes.
Overall, Scrum is highly recommended. We love Scrum because it allows us to be flexible, try new processes, see what works for us and what doesn’t. And most importantly, it enables us to have uninterrupted work flow even in the most unpredictable of times, like now during COVID-19 pandemic.