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Before I begin, I want to mention that I have read through a lot of similar questions on this site about agile teams where a few members are part-time, but I haven't found anything about how to implement agile/scrum for a team where everyone is part-time.

I will start with some background on the project and the team. I am currently working on an online collectible card game similar to Magic the Gathering or Hearthstone. This is a new project and I will be managing a team of 4-6 developers. All of the developers either go to school or have full time jobs, but everyone has agreed to spend 10 hours a week working on this project. We all live in different states, so everyone will be working remotely.

I think an agile framework (particularly scrum) would be beneficial for this project, but I am looking for some advice on how to implement this. In my office we have pretty "standard" scrum practices with 2 weeks sprints, daily stand-ups, sprint planning, grooming, retro, etc. So I'm looking for some advice on how to implement scrum for this team (or some reasons why I shouldn't, if you think it's a bad idea).

Some particular questions I have are:

  • Should we try to setup times for when everyone should work, or should we allow everyone to pick their on schedules/work when they can?
  • It seems like a daily stand-up doesn't make sense, especially since people may be working on different days and at different times. Does it make sense to have maybe 3 stand-ups at specified times?
  • Does it make sense to have a two-week sprint, or would a slightly longer sprint make more sense because of our reduced hours?

I want this project to be enjoyable for everyone, so I don't want to impose huge restrictions on everyone. But, at the same time, I want enough structure for us to be successful and on-task. Any suggestions or thoughts on how to implement scrum for this team would be greatly appreciated.

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I am part of a majority remote team; and although not part-time, my last project involved a full team of matrixed employees with part-time availability for this project/team. I hope some of my experience will help as you work through the key questions you have listed.

  1. Should we try to setup times for when everyone should work, or should we allow everyone to pick their on schedules/work when they can?

Everyone should work their own pace with key milestones and deliverables within the sprint/iteration.

  1. It seems like a daily stand-up doesn't make sense, especially since people may be working on different days and at different times. Does it make sense to have maybe 3 stand-ups at specified times?

We went to two stand-ups a week and also used untraditional methods like #slack to have syncs as well as parking lot items. I also highly recommend LLAMA by Megan Torrance as she discusses a system that is a Lot Like Agile Methodology Approach to begin wrapping your mind around ways to vary the approach.

  1. Does it make sense to have a two-week sprint, or would a slightly longer sprint make more sense because of our reduced hours?

I still think two-week sprints are necessary; just have logical expectations of what can be accomplished in each sprint.

  • This is some great feedback, thank you for sharing your experience! We are definitely planning to either use slack or discord. – Alakazooom Oct 9 at 16:58
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I've used Scrum in a number of part-time teams and the truth is, nothing really changes - you just have a lower capacity so you plan less work into your sprints.

There are only two things I'd consider differently:

1) You have a quarter of the time so I'd expect the meetings to be a quarter of the time. In a 2 week sprint, instead of a 4 hour planning, I'd look to wrap it up in an hour or less. I'd expect the Daily Scrum to be shorter and depending on availability, maybe not daily. The only one that might not scale is the retro because it can be hard to have an effective retro in much less than 30 - 45 minutes.

2) It might be a challenge for team members to support each other through a sprint and it can be tempting to silo work so people don't need each other. With a long-term view, there is usually a lot of benefit from working through those challenges and finding a way to work together.

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    Thank you, this is very good feedback! To your second point about working together, do you think it would be good to try to set common "work hours" where everyone is online at the same time? Or do you think they can collaborate effectively while setting their own hours? – Alakazooom Sep 30 at 21:48
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    @Alakazooom you might try to improve cohesion through a social media channel such as Slack. With a part-time distributed group setting fixed common working hours will most likely prove hard or impossible, but flexibly arranging times where two or three work on a story in a coordinated fashion should be possible. – Hans-Martin Mosner Oct 1 at 5:30
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    In my experience, teams in this circumstance need to find the way that works for them. I've seen teams use common hours as well as social media to support this. I currently work in a remote team that uses a tool called Sococo to collaborate. I think each team finds what works for them - really leverage those retros. – Daniel Oct 1 at 16:13
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I would recommend focusing on Agile principles over frameworks (Scrum in this case). GitLab is an entirely remote organisation and don't adopt any specific framework, and instead prioritise Agile principles above any specific framework.

If everyone who is working on the project is remote, Strict working hours and meetings/ceremonies will likely inhibit the principles of Agile.

  • +1 - it's far more important to have the agile principles embodied by members than the ceremonies done. – Tiago Cardoso Oct 2 at 7:48
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    I agree @TiagoCardoso, too many organisations get caught up on rigidly following Scrum ceremonies to the detriment of Agile – Fergus Oct 2 at 14:16

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