Many of our larger software enterprises (perhaps MOST) do substantial development within the continental United States and also have a significant offshore development presence, most likely in India (or China or both and more). So it is a very common pattern that some large group of developers here, and a large group in India, must collaborate on building larger scale systems of systems in the model of the Agile Release Train and Scaled Agile Delivery Model.
While face to face planning is by far preferred, this is simply not practical in these cases, as the enterprise must entertain a budget and overhead of flying, say 100 developers, halfway around the world, putting them in relatively expense hotels, renting cars etc etc etc. It’s a great notion, but it simply doesn’t scale. So there is a need for concurrent, real time face-to-face-like release planning that does not encounter those costs. Everyone plans together, but they plan from their respective locations. However, even with adequate video, audio and text-based real time communications, the time zone differences (typically 9.5-10.5 hours) really exacerbate the planning challenge. After all, which team wants to plan at midnight? Since neither do, some enterprises have developed a joint, concurrent planning model that mitigates the time zone problem, albeit by sharing some of the pain of awkward working hours.
An example is below:
Note 1: This agenda assumes a 10.5 our time distance between the US and Inida locations.
Note 2: all agenda items in white background are joint, shared, real-time sessions with remote communications. All agenda items with a grey background or non-overlapping sessions (regions work independently).
Special note: I’ve never been happy with this six page agenda format. While it works well for the participants in the individual locations, as a planner or anyone else who needs the gestalt of the whole operation, it’s hard to piece the whole thing together. If any reader can come up with a condensed, legible, moderately aesthetically pleasing, three page version, pretty printable (for review and poster sized printouts in the sessions) where you can see everything at a glance, I’ll publish it here and thank the contributor profusely!
(Hint: probably need to do it in excel in a four column spread, with 24 rows, one per hour of day, and blackout shading for respective locations during sleep time.)