Over the past year I’ve posted quite a few times on the topic of distributed teams and how to work with them. No doubt about it, it’s difficult and the teams velocity will be slowed up if they’re not co-located. It seems like the stock solution, co-location, just isn’t getting traction.
In the 2008 State of Agile Development survey 57% of respondents stated that their teams were distributed. Furthermore 41% of respondents said that they were currently using or plan to combine agile with outsourced development. When faced with these sorts of numbers it seems that the agile practice of co-locating the entire team in a single room is at odds with what’s actually going on in within a large part of the software development community.
The survey is definitely worth a look but I would take the survey’s numbers with a grain of salt. It’s one survey and the numbers may be skewed by sample populations and the like. But it does tell us that the agile community needs to figure out this distributed development thing or half of its adopters are going to struggle.
Note: Who Moved the Cheese is the title of a book about dealing with change. There is a synopsis on Wikipedia. I mention this as I’m not sure how well know this is outside of the US.