Configuring ScrumGenius for Teams with Complex Timezone Differences
We hear a lot from teams searching for the best solution to their timezone woes. With more teams working remotely more than ever, getting each & every member to fill in their check-ins at an optimal time for manager review is becoming increasingly important. Regardless of your team's geographical orientation, our advice applies to any remote setup involving multiple timezones.
So how do you configure ScrumGenius to handle time gaps?
A common scenario is when most of the team is on the US east coast (ex: New York) and another part in the west (ex: San Francisco). This means that members based in San Francisco are 'behind' by 3 hours. Another scenario, is when teams based in North America or Europe have some members working in places that are 'ahead' by longer time periods (ex: China).
In using these two opposing scenarios, you'll soon be able to master configuring the ScrumGenius bot for anything & everything to do with timezones! We will go through each scenario respectively and show you how to best configure ScrumGenius.
But before that! The most important thing you need to keep in mind when following our recommendations is that team members should already be asked to check-in at their local time.
For instance, a 10.00AM New York report should be also released to team members at 10.00AM in Delhi. If you don't know how to do that, follow the steps outlined in the helpful GIF provided below, or in this article before proceeding.
Scenario 1 | Some members are 'behind' by shorter time period.
12.00PM Monday (New York) | 9.00AM Monday (San Francisco)
Let's say you, the team manager who lives in New York, prefers a morning check-in with the team. You set the report to trigger at 10.00AM local time, for team members to update you on the previous day's progress, as well as their plans & potential blockers for the day.
Since the report window is 2 hours by default, the Summary email gets sent out at 12.00PM. However, 3 of your team members live in San Francisco, where it's only 9.00AM — they have just begun to prepare for the day ahead, and haven't even gotten the chance to fill in their reports yet.
To summarize, the report is released at 10.00AM for everyone, but closes at 9.00AM for SF members — 1 hour before it's even released to them. The report would eventually update to show all member reports on your Dashboard, but the window closing is problematic for managers who want quick updates, which are crucial for agile teams.
Therein lies the problem: your report summary is missing 3 important check-ins from San Francisco. How to configure ScrumGenius for this scenario:
Step 1. Ensure your report time is set to the 'earliest' timezone.
This is crucial for the next step! In this case, you would have New York as your report timezone. As a general rule of thumb, timezones to the east are 'ahead' and therefore 'earlier'.
Once again: both your NY and SF team members would get their report at 10.00AM local time.
Step 2. Extend your report summary window.
2:00PM Monday (New York) | 11.00AM Monday (San Francisco)
And here's your solution! By setting the report to trigger according to NY time and extending the report period by 4 hours, the team members in San Francisco would receive their ScrumGenius report at 10.00AM and check-in with you by 11.00AM. Easy peasy.
Here's a visualization of the report period (how long it's open for) to tie it all together:
Scenario 2 | Some members are 'ahead' by longer time period.
Our advice here applies to team with large time gaps — an increasingly common occurrence for North American teams with members in countries like China and India! Here we have a team with members in both New York and Hong Kong, with a 12-hour time difference (oof).
So what do we recommend? We found that team-wide coordination is easiest when you configure ScrumGenius to collect check-ins towards the end of the workday and send out Summary emails at the beginning of the next day.
Why? Because the part of the team that is starting their day will always see what the other part of the team did while they were sleeping, enabling perfect syncing across timezones despite asynchronous workflow.
How? Like Scenario 1 above, you would set the report timezone to Hong Kong time (the 'earliest' timezone). This time, however, you would release the report towards the end of the day (ex: 5.00PM) and extend the report summary period to the same number of hours as your timezone difference.
Since we have a 12-hour time difference in this case, our report summary window is set to 12 hours.
Here's how your ScrumGenius setup will look like:
5.00AM Monday (New York) | 5.00PM Monday (Hong Kong)
While everyone in New York is sleeping, the Hong Kong team members are finishing up their workday. They get pinged at 5.00PM exactly by the ScrumGenius bot to fill in their reports before they head out for dinner. They spend 30 seconds writing up the day's progress & surfacing blockers, and think briefly about what they need to do tomorrow. Their day is done!
9.00AM Monday (New York) | 9.00PM Monday (Hong Kong)
As the NY team members are starting their day, they are able to catch up on the Hong Kong team's work by reading their report summaries in the Dashboard. They build on their HK teammates' progress seamlessly, and have the whole day to fill in their own reports.
5.00PM Monday (New York) | 5.00AM Tuesday (Hong Kong)
Since the report window is set to close at 5.00PM New York time, the NY members finish up their check-ins for the day. The report summary email is sent out to everyone at 5.00 — just before the Hong Kong team wakes up.
9.00PM Monday (New York) | 9.00AM Tuesday (Hong Kong)
The Hong Kong team starts their day with a complete report summary on their desk (figuratively), including updates from both New York and Hong Kong. Using this unique setup, the team is able to see everything that's done from both locations, allowing everyone to easily stay in sync — from opposite sides of the globe.
As you can see above, our recommended setups give everyone the most complete and up-to-date view of work across locations. In both scenarios, team members get to see what the other half did most recently — saving time, money, and mental space for your team. And it's as easy as that.