Fully Distributed Scrum: Linear Scalability Between San Francisco & India

J. Sutherland, G. Schoonheim, N. Kumar, V. Pandey, and S. Vishal, in Agile 2009, Chicago, 2009.

The Scrum software development framework was designed for the hyperproductive state where productivity increases by 5-10 times over waterfall teams and many co-located teams have achieved this effect. In 2006, Xebia (The Netherlands) started localized projects with half Dutch and half Indian team members. After establishing a localized velocity of five times their waterfall competitors on the same project, they moved the Indian members of the team to India and showed stable velocity with fully distributed teams. The ability to achieve hyperproductivity with distributed, outsourced teams was shown to be a repeatable process and a fully distributed model is now the recommended standard when organizations have disciplined Scrum teams with full implementation of XP engineering practices inside the Scrum.

Previous studies used overlapping time zones to ease communication and create a single distributed team. The goal of this report is to go one step further and show the same results with team members separated by the 12.5 hour time difference between India and San Francisco. If Scrum works without overlapping time zones then applying it to the mainstream offshoring practice in North America will be possible. In 2008, Xebia India started engagements with partners like TBD.com, a social networking site in San Francisco. TBD has an existing core team of developers doing Scrum with an established local velocity. Adding Xebia India developers to the San Francisco team with a Fully Distributed Scrum model achieved linear scalability with a globally distributed outsourced team.

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