Agile software development methodology is seen by many as the most efficient way to develop tech products. It’s when projects are split into bitesize stages and managed by a team that adapts quickly and operates flexibly. As you can see in the graph below, agile working performs better than non-agile methods, even within the same company.
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While flexibility has always been crucial to the agile software development methodology, it’s even more so now when people are increasingly working from home.
How Does an Agile Team Work
An agile team is put together to be flexible and responsive. It breaks a project down into small sections so it can be developed quickly and iteratively. The main focus is on reacting to changes and issues as they arise and adapting the project to reflect them.
All team members need to be kept fully informed of all tasks and deadlines but also need the flexibility to take the initiative and work independently. Agile teams often use a VoIP for business to communicate remotely without having to rely on local phone lines.
There are several different methodologies but one of the most popular is scrum. It focuses on small parts of the project with constant feedback loops and experimentation so projects can be adapted as they progress.
The Roles in an Agile Team
In an agile team, each person plays an equal part in achieving the overall results. Let’s take a look at the team roles and how each one operates.
The Product Owner
Think of this person as the go-between – they know what customers want and they communicate this to the rest of the team. Product Owners have business skills, so they can shape the product objectives and vision with regard to changing customer needs. , They also have technical skills to understand what the team needs to build the product. It’s the Product Owner’s job to prioritize the product backlog, as only they can see the project from a project management and technical point of view.
Team Lead/Scrum Master
The person who manages the team is known as the Scrum Master. Unlike traditional managers, a Scrum Master isn’t there to tell people what to do; if the team is succeeding, the Scrum Master is doing their job well. They organize scrum meetings to find out what each team member is working on and what resources they need. An easy way to facilitate these meetings is through conference calling.
If the Product Owner looks out for the stakeholder, and The Scrum Master champions the team, then the Agile Coach is there to advocate for the agile way of working. Not all agile teams need an Agile Coach, but those new to the methodology often hire one to stay on track. An Agile Coach guides everyone in the team. He can step in and offer solutions when people aren’t working in an agile way. This doesn’t have to be an existing member of the team, it could be an external consultant.
You can apply agile principles across the whole company to add more flexibility to your organization and streamline processes. This process is known as Agile Transformation.
Development Team Members
The specific skills of the Team Members depends on the project, for example they could be graphic designers or data engineers. Team Members manage themselves; instead of being given a deadline, it’s up to them to determine when tasks need to be completed to ensure the overall project is delivered on time.
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Stakeholders are anybody with an invested role in the outcome of the project – they set out the business objectives and overall vision for the product and the rest of the team works to their brief. Stakeholders will give feedback throughout the project, often conveyed by the Product Owner.
When multiple agile teams are working on a project, an Integrator might be brought on board to bring all of their work together in a seamless way. This is no mean feat; while the individual teams are responsible for their individual stage of the project, the Integrator is responsible for the product as a whole.
This person is, you guessed it, responsible for testing the product. They’re often hired for larger projects as developers in smaller agile teams can conduct product testing themselves. They should understand a variety of testing techniques, so make sure they can answer questions like “What is regression testing?" or “How do you carry out a smoke test?”. With agile working, it’s important to constantly test and address problems. An Independent Tester offers an extra level of reassurance.
Regular, internal audits are the most agile way to ensure a product complies with industry standards at every step of the way. Depending on the product, an Audit Team might be responsible for reviewing and signing off on all code changes and educating the rest of the team on compliance.
In an agile team, specialists are trusted to use their initiative and take ownership of their part in the project. Ideally Technical Experts will have multiple skill sets, so that responsibilities can be shared if needed, avoiding the problems that hold up traditionally managed projects like work stopping when certain team members are away or off sick. This flexibility could be something you consider when you contact an IT staffing agency for a new recruit. Do they have the versatility to cover multiple roles when required?
This person develops the entire agile DevOps process, ensuring the timing and costs will work for the business. Although they will set out the framework before the project begins, like any agile team member, they will have to adapt as the project unfolds.
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Understanding Best Agile Practices
Looking at the individual roles within an agile team can help us to understand best working practices:
1. Balance Team Dynamics
As you’ve seen above, the roles within an agile team are varied and each person has an important role to play. If the dynamics are off, the whole project could be affected. While a Scrum Master can help with guiding the team, sometimes an Agile Coach might be needed to help redress the balance.
When building your team, think carefully about the different personalities and work styles of its members. This way you can identify any potential weaknesses and adapt accordingly.
2. Open Up Communications
Communication is key. As such, many agile teams use cloud communication services so that every person in the team can interact in a single digital space, wherever they choose to work from. Make sure you have transparency across communication channels. This ensures that all members feel they can raise issues openly within your digital operation.
Cloud communication services will also offer benefits for speaking directly to your customers such as reducing call waiting times, pointing customers to the right person within the organization, and, when linked with your CRM, allowing for a more personalized call experience. There are also more subtle ways to communicate who you are as a company to your customers, such as adopting a .ai domain suffix which will immediately let customers know that your company is innovative and technology focused.
3. Address Failures Together
An agile team is all about self-management and taking the initiative. But, it is still a team. Therefore, it’s important to troubleshoot and handle failures as a team; when different skill sets are used to solve a problem, the quicker and smarter that solution will be.
Why DevOps is Better Together
It’s easy to see why agile working is becoming more popular: agile teams are proven to perform better than non-agile teams. Plus, with more people than ever working remotely, it’s even more important that teams are able to adapt quickly and communicate effectively wherever they are.
Once everyone is clear on their role and is given the space and DevOps tools they need to succeed, an agile team can react, evolve and deliver products with speed plus they can enjoy a smarter, more seamless way of working together.