In software development, hiring Agile teams is all the rage nowadays.
And guess what? Statistics actually show that businesses that add Agile to their operational approaches have a success rate of 64%, compared to just 49% for those following other strategies.
But what exactly makes it different from traditional development teams?
Let’s dive into this topic and touch on the benefits and steps in building your own strong Agile team!
What is an Agile Team?
As the word ‘agile’ implies, Agile teams employ agile principles to get projects done quicker while enhancing the quality of their deliverables.
In an Agile team, members have a diverse range of multipurpose skills and are wholeheartedly committed to completing the Agile project across all development, testing, and delivery stages. These remarkable teams embrace the Agile methodology, which is a project management practice that dismantles grand objectives into smaller phases. With this, the team fosters a culture of continuous iteration, progress, and relentless improvement.
A typical Agile team size consists of 5–10 individuals who have been meticulously chosen based on their extensive expertise in specific business areas. It is important to select team members with diverse skills and knowledge to enable effective collaboration and problem-solving.
While Agile teams may vary in size and composition, they all hold a similar mindset of adaptability, transparency, and communication.
Characteristics of an Agile Team Structure
The Agile structure has characteristics that make it different from your traditional teams. These characteristics include:
An Agile team structure is cross-functional, meaning that each team member has their own specific skill set, but they all work together towards a common goal: delivering the goods on time to make the customer happy.
Cross-functional Agile team structures are often compared to T-shaped ones, and they are similar. However, team members are more likely to have skills outside of traditional disciplines. It’s this wide-ranging skillset that allows them to contribute to different projects, which in turn boosts an Agile team’s velocity.
In Agile, there’s a lot of team collaboration and open communication happening. You’ll even find team members participating in cross-training, where they work alongside their colleagues to learn from each other and develop new skills.
But agile project management is not just about individual achievements. Successes and failures are shared equally, and solutions are proposed or celebrated together. By working as a cohesive unit, the team boosts overall performance and achieves assigned goals more effectively.
No hierarchy involved
Another important aspect of an Agile team structure is that it’s non-hierarchical. In other words, it doesn’t have a strict chain of command. Instead, Agile teams prefer a flat structure where individuals have the freedom to work independently and organize themselves.
Each team member has a specific role and responsibility, but there aren’t unnecessary layers of management getting in the way. This allows people to effectively self-manage. This approach works particularly well in small groups. For instance, a Scrum team, a popular Agile framework, typically consists of three to nine members. So, it makes sense for everyone on the team to be on the same level.
Agile teams perform at their best when they fully grasp the value they bring to the organization. Right from the beginning, agile project managers lay out clear goals and outcomes, illustrating how the tasks at hand contribute to the final product or service.
With this, the focus is on continuously increasing the value of each product update rather than simply improving it. It’s less about individual tasks and more about the value created by each team member.
The 5 Agile Frameworks You Should Know About
Different Agile frameworks exist, each with its own merits. Many leaders blend elements from different frameworks to customize an approach that suits their team, industry, or organization. This improves performance and helps achieve objectives.
Here’s an overview of popular approaches:
Scrum is a popular Agile framework for software development projects. It enables team members to self-organize and approach tasks iteratively. Through structured meetings and tools, Scrum participants collaborate toward a common goal, provide feedback, and move forward incrementally in the development cycle. Scrum methodology is ideal for dynamic environments that require adaptability.
Kanban is a lean workflow management approach for teams aiming to streamline work in progress and handle incoming requests efficiently. With Kanban, team members can visualize cross-team dependencies and move items forward based on their needs. The project owner takes charge of managing the workload, adding tasks to the queue, and allowing team members to pick items for development or review. It’s a collaborative approach that keeps everyone on the same page!
A Crystal Agile framework prioritizes communication and interaction, empowering every team member to voice roadblocks and efficiencies to self-direct their workflow. Teams follow collaboration guidelines and share information, avoiding restrictive documentation and reporting. Crystal suits teams with a good rapport, preventing scope creep.
4. Extreme Programming Framework (XP)
When it comes to software development, extreme programming takes Agile project management to the next level by focusing on engineering best practices. While collaboration is still important, the team members follow a set of 12 processes that support iterative, endless sprints to make progress continuously. This includes things like regular releases, seamless integration, and taking ownership of the code.
5. Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM)
If companies are after faster releases, DSDM could be a good fit. It’s all about creating strategies that prioritize quick releases with multiple iterations. There’s an understanding that revisions and reworks may happen along the way or even after. Agile team members still follow processes and procedures, but they work at a faster pace compared to their pure Scrum counterparts.
Key Team Members in Agile
In an Agile team structure, everyone has a purpose. While the team roles may vary slightly depending on the framework and team size, here are some common key team members you’ll find:
The product owner plays a key role in the development process and is responsible for effectively communicating the product requirements of stakeholders to the team. They act as the bridge between the business and technical teams, ensuring clear understanding and alignment. Additionally, the product owner has the authority to make changes to the project scope based on evolving needs and priorities.
The scrum master plays a crucial role in ensuring the team’s success in achieving its targets. Moreover, it is the scrum master’s responsibility to foster a collaborative work environment that encourages smooth and friendly communication among team members.
The development team consists of specialized professionals who are assigned to various project activities. They’re in charge of completing the work in sprints and ensuring that iterations are finished within the specified time limit.
A team member can have various roles in different industries. For instance, Agile teams consist of programmers, UX designers, software developers, and quality assurance testers. Meanwhile, a digital marketing team may have copywriters, editors, PPC managers, SEO specialists, and more. All these individuals are considered team members in an Agile team structure.
Stakeholders aren’t directly involved in the nitty-gritty of project development, but they play a crucial role in setting the project’s foundation. They share customer requirements with product owners and address any issues during development, making sure to communicate any changes to the product plan.
Benefits of Agile Teams Today
Whether you’re building an Agile team in 2023 and beyond, Agile methodologies offer a host of benefits.
But here’s the thing: it can vary from case to case because different teams have their own unique way of implementing best practices. However, embracing Agile team management offers these core benefits:
1. Increased customer engagement and satisfaction
Agile’s iterative approach enhances customer relations and retention by continuously delivering new products or services. Involving customers in the development process demonstrates their value and keeps them engaged. By tailoring deliverables to customer needs, Agile teams improve user experience and boost customer retention.
2. High-quality products
Agile project management methodology takes an iterative approach, which means processes are improved upon each time they are repeated. It’s all about continuous improvement and quality control, which are at the heart of Agile. This approach helps companies create exceptional products.
3. Adaptable and scalable
The core idea of Agile is all about flexibility, being able to handle any sudden market shift that comes ahead. Agile teams are highly responsive to change, allowing them to adjust project deliverables and priorities to align with updated goals. This adaptability enables teams to deliver and effectively manage clients’ changing requirements consistently.
4. Predictability and risk management
Agile teams work in short time periods called sprints. These fixed durations, like two weeks, make it easier to measure team performance and allocate resources. Predicting costs for shorter time periods is also simpler, streamlining estimation. Also, developers regularly assess progress during sprints for project visibility and to identify potential obstacles. Addressing minor issues early creates an effective risk mitigation process, increasing the project’s chances of success.
5. Effective communication
In managing Agile teams, face-to-face interaction and continuous communication are a priority. They conduct daily meetings to ensure alignment and progress toward shared objectives. Regular communication eliminates confusion and enables successful achievement of goals.
6 Steps to Form the Perfect Agile Team
If you want to form an Agile team, you must follow a few core steps. Here’s what you should do:
1. Assess your business capabilities
Business capabilities are what your business is truly capable of, not just what you assume it can do. Understanding this distinction is vital. Once you have clarity, align your business capabilities with project or product requirements. During this process, you may identify any gaps that need to be addressed within the established project timelines.
2. Pick your Agile model
When building an Agile team, focus on defining business outcomes and goals and assemble contributors based on business needs rather than other priorities. You can start by analyzing some factors that determine the most suitable structure for your needs.
This set of questions may help you figure it out:
- Is your project better suited to a team of generalists or specialists?
- Can you create a hybrid structure with the available resources?
- Can your project be divided into sub-teams?
3. Define the team roles
As we mentioned earlier, Agile teams are a dynamic mix of individuals with different skills and expertise. They are the driving force behind your new product or business process. By identifying the roles, processes, and people required for your central dedicated team, you can ensure a successful collaboration.
4. Align the team with existing technology architecture
The next step is to lay down the technical architecture and clarify what is included in the plan to the team. Explain how the new project will integrate with existing business processes, such as software, hardware, and network storage like cloud computing. Doing this will establish team expectations and allow them to understand their role within the project.
5. Use Agile software
When managing an Agile team, it’s important to use Agile software to add structure to your daily activities. With an all-in-one project management platform, you can easily create project folders, build team dashboards, and customize your workflows. It’s a convenient solution that helps streamline your processes.
6. Establish communication channels and feedback culture
To ensure successful project development, agile teams should establish clear communication channels and foster an open feedback culture. Feedback among team members helps identify and resolve issues during sprints, while feedback from the project owner improves the product with each iteration. By promoting transparency and team collaboration, teams can achieve strong internal communication and enhance project outcomes.
Hire an Agile Development Team from StarTechUP!
It will take one Agile team to make your business run faster, smarter, and better. At StarTechUP, we know how Agile teams work.
If you need to manage projects, build a business application, or develop your software, we offer our expertise in Agile team management. Our years of experience have given us the knowledge to form high-performing teams that deliver exceptional results.
Contact us today! We’ll be happy to help you form the Agile team for your needs.
Remember, with an efficient and skilled Agile team by your side, the sky’s the limit!