When we talk about an Agile team, we mean a cross-functional group, usually between five and ten people, that has 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, Agile teams are able to produce working software. Sounds great.
Of course, in order to deliver a great product you need a great team. But the big challenge here is to put the team together. Teamwork is essential when it comes to delivering amazing software. Teams need to collaborate effectively and efficiently.
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 actively communicate with one-another? 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 tge goals you plan to reach, what you want to do, and 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 toward the company and the project itself. Teams should have the liberty to solve a problem in the way that they believe would be the best and make the necessary decisions. This will also give you time to manage other situations and makes the whole team more productive.
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, anyway, 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 in 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 extra time at the end of a SPring, you can add more functionalities. If not, then by meeting your MVP 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 are to make 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 need strong collaboration between developers, testers, and others to build working software. You should definitely create a common communication platform for all the team members, as it will help a lot in terms of organization, productivity, and 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.
- With Continuous Integration, you integrate the work various times a day. This implies various advantages, such 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 into more detail you find:
The Scrum Master is responsible for helping the team and getting the resources they need. He protects them from problems and distractions (known as impediments in Scrum). 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 helping team members to understand and use best practices and Agile/Scrum 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 ensure 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 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 must actively participate in the team for Scrum to work. Each of them is in charge of breaking down 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 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.