Distributed software development (DSD) has become increasingly popular due to benefits such as cost savings, access to large multi-skilled workforces and a reduced time to market. Agile practices can potentially help increase transparency and mitigate communication and coordination issues in these complex environments. While empirical studies in the field exist, most are single-case studies that miss out on the chance to compare different distribution scenarios, which calls for further investigation. We report on results of a four-year exploratory multiple-case study investigating the agile process implementation in three different distribution scenarios: within-city, within-country and within-continent. We purposefully selected the three different cases and found ten common heuristics emerge which are based on empirical evidence in at least two cases as well as four further candidate heuristics that lack evidence in more than one case. In particular, the understanding of and adaptation to each development site’s inherent challenges, travelling ambassadors/proxies between sites, and a balanced distribution of decision makers proved to be important heuristics for a successful process implementation.