Webcams with a remote team: should we give up?

Considering that we are a distributed team (well, 80% offshore anyway), Craig Larman has been pushing for us to use webcams extensively.
He suggested that each project manager for the project (one offshore, one onshore) should get one, and systematically use them on conference calls.

I consider today that this initiative has been a failure.

In practice, only the offshore manager bought one. The onshore manager couldn’t get around to do it, so I brought my own.

Interestingly, if the offshore manager was not available for a conf call, the Team members offshore would not use his webcam. Presumably it is considered rude (or maybe too aggressive) to borrow someone else’s camera.

Another issue is that it was often too much of a burden to setup a video conf call. Simply, clicking around and ensuring that the other party does the same, is just too much work for what it’s worth. Not only that, but we often had issues where the video feed simply stopped, or even the client crashed.

In the end, it was just too painful to use webcams. It has been at least 2 months that we haven’t used one.

These days, I have setup a “static” camera. That is, one that stays on all the time. No need to request for it: just point a browser to the camera’s URL. Rather like a surveillance camera. The idea behind it is that the other team would have a permanent view of ours, and would get a “proximity” feeling. We’ll see how it turns out.

About Eric Lefevre-Ardant

Independent technical consultant.
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