I’ve been the Sococo Software team ScrumMaster for a few months now, and this is my first distributed team. Every day, I am more and more delighted when I experience how Sococo makes our team feel like they are always together. With the recent heavy snowstorms on the West Coast, I encountered a new situation that Sococo resolved and reduced my ScrumMaster stress considerably.

Though we’re all about being distributed, we like to visit our IT office in Eugene, Oregon, where a few developers and the IT guys will get together periodically.

With the winter storms pummeling the Pacific Northwest this week, our product owner, who was flying in from New Hampshire, ran into some roadblocks. I was at my home in White Salmon, Washington experiencing the storms as well (as you can see from the picture, my family was enjoying the snow day!). At 12:45 PM, he let me know that his flight to Portland, Oregon had been delayed and he was just landing.  Our planning meeting was scheduled to start in 15 minutes, and he still had a 2 hour drive to the office in Eugene. While delays are sometimes inevitable, we had a lot of important stuff to get done!

Sococo Saves the Planning Meeting

Postponing the meeting to a later time or date wouldn’t work given the urgency with which the team wanted to deliver, and having the meeting without the product owner was pretty much out of the question. At first I felt like I was faced with the inevitability of rescheduling, when I remembered that in Sococo, no matter where we are – unexpectedly or not  – we can pretty much always connect as a team. I felt a huge sense of relief as our Sococo conference room filled up with the development team and the product owner, who joined us via the Sococo mobile app as he drove to the Eugene office from the airport.

As Effective as Being Co-Located

We got started on our planning session and it was clear that we had some work ahead of us. The product owner had sent out detailed thoughts on sprint goals earlier that morning. We reviewed what we wanted to accomplish in this sprint and started by looking at remaining work on our next major features. The product owner talked about the vision for these updates and the groundwork we’d like to see developed at the end of the sprint. After the team was completely clear on their user stories, the product owner was able to answer a lot of questions, and we sized and assigned each user story as usual.

By the end of the two hour meeting we had set out to finish three major features, and each developer had a manageable amount of work. We didn’t have to delay our planning session, and we had the full leadership and participation of our product owner. It was so gratifying to see our own product save the day to enable us to work side-by-side!