We just concluded an engagement where we delivered the MVP in about 12 weeks with a team that was distributed across India, East coast and West coast of US. In hindsight, following enabled us to achieve this feat

Deep understanding of the problem statement The team spent a week in a workshop, with other technology partners and key decision makers from the customer, brainstorming to identify ideas to problem solve the business. The shortlisted ideas were elaborated and tested with users and based on the insights gained, the priorities were defined.

Lean, cross functional team: Teams at Sahaj are high impact teams, where the members are not bound by their roles and titles. We decided to challenge the traditional thought process of creating additional roles for managing the communication overhead in an offshore scenario. Every team member took up all possible tasks i.e. analysis, development, testing and DevOps. As a result, the team member who is developing, is the same person who has spent time with the users understanding the problem and with the design team in coming up with the design. This also enabled the team to simplify the solution to a great extent. The size of the team varied between 2 to 3 solutions consultants during these 12 weeks.

Effective tooling: In order to avoid any communication overhead the team extensively used Slack, Hangouts and a tele-conferencing solution along with JIRA, Zeplin and InVison. At the same time the build, deployment and provisioning was automated using Jenkins and Ansible. These tools and the lean structure of the team reduced communication losses.

Effective use of Standups, IPMs and Showcases: The standups across three timezones were used very effectively to make sure that everyone understands the current state and roadblocks. Very often, the design ideas, in-flight stories and ideas to simplify the solution were talked about. Like any other project, we also underwent a lot of scope changes and redefinition of the MVP but because of deep understanding of the problem and effective communication, team was able to take most of it in the stride. The IPMs were effectively used to brainstorm the next set of priorities with the users. A lot of times, we ended redefining the stories during the IPM.

Sense of urgency to complete MVP: The team understood the problem as well as the cost that business is bearing in the absence of a solution. The team questioned every requirement and made sure that only the highest priority ones are picked up every week. Now, as the MVP is delivered, there is still a big list of stories and features in the backlog, but they don’t seem to be worth spending money on at this point of time.