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Sococo Saves Sococo from the Pacific Northwest Snowstorms!

By Alicia Andrews, Sococo Software Team ScrumMaster, currently under 4 feet of snow in Washington State

I’ve been the Sococo Software team ScrumMaster for a few months now, and this is my first distributed agile 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, our Product Owner likes to visit our IT office in Eugene, Oregon, where a few developers and the IT guys will get together periodically. The Product Owner is in New Hampshire, so his quarterly visits are decently long journeys. 

Storm Alert!

With the winter storms pummeling the Pacific Northwest this week, his planned visit got dodgy really quick. 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 at 1 PM, and he had a 2 hour drive to the office in Eugene. While delays are inevitable sometimes, this was really poorly timed. 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 given some recent changes in priorities. At first I felt like I was faced with the inevitability of rescheduling, when I quickly realized that in Sococo, no matter where we were - unexpectedly or not  - we can pretty much always connect as a team. I felt a huge sense of relief as the Sococo team room filled up with the development team, and then the Product Owner joined us via Sococo mobile app as he drove to the Eugene office from the airport.

As Effective as Being in a Co-Located Team Room

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 a detailed thoughts on sprint goals earlier that morning. We reviewed what we wanted to accomplish this sprint and started by looking at remaining work on our next major features. The product owner talked about the vision of these 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 because the product owner was able to attend and answer a whole lot of questions, 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 had full leadership and participation of our product owner. It was so gratifying to see how our own product can save the day to enable our agile teamwork!