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When we talk about an Agile team, we mean a cross-functional group, usually between five and ten people, that have the ability and authority to define, build, and test some elements of the solution. Most commonly, you will hear about scrum teams. It doesn’t matter if they follow scrum or Kanban or other methodologies, they are able to produce a working software. Sounds great.
Of course, in order to deliver great product you need a great team. But the big challenge here is to put the team together. Teamwork is essential I would say when it comes to delivering an amazing software. Teams need to collaborate effectively and efficiently. An important part is to define Agile team roles but also to focus strongly on successful completion of the project.
So yes, there are many challenges to face when building an agile team. How can we ensure a roadmap is kept? How can we encourage the team to have a strong communication? How easy is it to really build an Agile team?
A few tips when building an Agile team
Get the support you need
This goes without saying. If you want to build an agile team, you first have to start by getting the support you need from the management team. Show them goals you plan to reach, what you want to do, the benefits of agile project management.
Empower the team
Showing your team your trust is important. By letting them manage the issues and choose their tasks, you enforce this sense of responsibility and belonging towards the company and the project itself. The teams should have the liberty to solve a problem how they believe would be the best way and take decisions. This will also give you time to manage other situations and just end up making the whole work more productive.
Actually here you have a good article about the performance management, check it out!
Mistakes should not be seen as the end of the world. What is important is to know what was badly done and learn from them. The team must be allowed to make mistakes and they will. At Apiumhub we believe that it can all be fixed and that anyways, the sooner you make a mistake the sooner you will fix it. Just learn from it!
Think about flexibility
As everything is already defined and planned in traditional project management, it’s usually very difficult to make changes during the project. In an Agile environment you need to encourage the team to adapt quickly.
No need to plan too much ahead
People tend to commit a lot and on the long term. Very often they end up with delays and not accomplishing what they said they would. You shouldn’t give long-term estimates and you should only commit to your MVP. If you have time, you will accord it to other functionalities. If not, then you will have done what you promised you would. With short delivery cycles you will have more flexibility to deliver, get customer feedback, and change the backlog according to the next delivery.
Identify the goals of the team
All agile teams don’t focus on the same things. But no matter what your team focuses on, the idea is to identify it and adjust your goals to it. Keep in mind that the bigger the goal the more risks you take when it comes to reaching it. In fact, the smaller the goal the more likely we can do accurate predictions / estimations. So yes, it’s always better to stay realistic and keep it small. Sometimes less is more.
Do not omit communication
In Agile methodologies, you have a strong collaboration between developers, testers and others to build a working software. You should definitely create a common communication platform for all the team members as it will help a lot in terms of organisation, productivity & efficiency. In fact, everyone can easily share information and knowledge while they all stay up to date with latest changes.
Best practices are essential
Logically, expertise can only accelerate the process of solving issues. That’s why it’s very important to teach and learn best practices. You can only improve the quality of the team. We believe that to be truly Agile you must practice Test Driven Development, Continuous Integration and unit testing. To teach these best practices, you need to take take into account the importance of “sharing knowledge” and here you may find some methods of doing it.
- With continuous integration you integrate the work various times a day. This implies various advantages as avoiding last-minute chaos, getting immediate feedback and managing code complexity by focusing the team on developing functional and quality code.
- Unit testing enables you to verify that your code is working as expected. It makes it quicker and easier to detect errors while using a simpler code.
- TDD allows you to save time, have higher quality and achieve efficiency. It creates detailed guidelines, it gives fast feedback and it identifies errors quickly.
So I gave you a few tips that our team here at Apiumhub mentioned. But that’s not enough, you still need to know a bit more about the different roles in an Agile team.
Agile team roles you absolutely need
First things first. In an Agile team you have the product owner taking care of the business management, and you have the delivery team taking care of the technical management. Going more in details you find:
The scrum master is a project manager. He is responsible for helping the team and getting the resources they need. He protects them from problems and distractions. He also works with the product owner to ensure everything is ready for Sprints. He is actually the one in charge of running the scrum meetings
Continuously helping the team improve their ability to predictably meet commitments, this leadership role is responsible for enforcing to the rest of the team members best practices and agile principles.
He ensures that the team functions well and that they are productive and focused on the goal.
The product owner represents the business and deeply understands the customer’s need. They know that delivering the highest value products to the customers means to focus on outcomes and not on outputs.
He is responsible for the vision and definition of the product. In a way, he is the voice of the customer. One of his roles is to ensures that the scrum team works on the “right things” from the business perspective: he is the one responsible for prioritizing the product backlog
Scrum team member
The team should have all the skills needed to build, test and deliver full value to customers and stakeholders. It’s not only about coding, it’s about a code that works and that is tested and deployed.
They are responsible for creating and delivering a system which implies modeling, programming, testing, and release activities while having different job functions, focusing on completing user stories.
Each team member has the role to actively participate in the team. Each of them is in charge of decomposing user stories into tasks and estimating those tasks with accuracy. Often, he takes on new unfamiliar tasks. He also has to make commitments regarding the delivery and has the responsibility to meet them.
The stakeholder can be a direct or indirect user of the platform, a manager of users, senior manager, operations staff member, the “gold owner” who funds the project, support (help desk) staff member, auditors, your program/portfolio manager, developers working on other systems that integrate or interact with the one under development, or maintenance professionals potentially affected by the development and/or deployment of a software project.
Even though they Agile teams have common values, there isn’t a perfect formula for a perfect agile team. As I mentioned earlier, some will implement scrum and others will decide to go for kanban. But in any of the situation, the need to build an independent team that is able to adapt quickly to changes and work well as a group, is quite important.
Hopefully these tips were helpful, I leave you with a list of posts you might enjoy about Agile methodologies and Agile practices.
You might enjoy those reads…