5 Keys to Building an Effective Agile Group

An Agile Team as a Paradigm Shift

The emergence of agile team working has brought about a significant change in software and system engineering, disrupting the conventional ‘waterfall’ approaches that have long been prevalent in many corporate environments. According to a recent survey by HP, the majority of over 600 development and IT experts showed a preference for agile methodologies. What’s more, 63% of respondents reported that their organization was moving towards being ‘agile’ or had already achieved that goal.

Senior management’s commitment to an agile way of working is crucial as much as it is important for them to ensure that their development teams have the appropriate expertise and attitude to form a high-performing team. For a team to attain its maximum potential, both elements must be present. Business leaders need to make the first move towards informing and directing their teams to embrace an agile mindset to provide constant business value.

Although 80% of software companies are employing agile development, it does not ensure a favorable outcome. Therefore, how can organizations establish genuinely exceptional agile teams that are capable of accomplishing more, at a faster pace and with better output? Below are the five most valuable characteristics of a high-performance agile team.

1. Interaction

Achieving effectiveness as an agile team requires clear and consistent communication, which is one of the most crucial elements. Successful teams usually allocate time to evaluate how they can enhance their communication with each other and then implement the necessary modifications.

For a successful agile team, it is crucial to maintain a solid communication level among all stakeholders, including within the teams and between teams and upper management. Managers should be proficient in providing feedback, and team members should feel free to express their opinions about the project’s progress to senior staff without fear of any repercussions. It is imperative that everyone involved has a comprehensive understanding of the goals and outcomes desired. In other words, for an agile team to thrive, it is essential to have open discussions about both the technical solutions and the overall objectives.

2. Collaborative Work

Successful collaboration is crucial for the effectiveness of an agile team. Recent studies have shown that 54% of businesses that have adopted agile practices believe in its ability to enhance cooperation among different departments that were previously isolated. Contrary to traditional working models, where a team works to achieve a predefined task, agile teams tend to work in short bursts known as “sprints.” This necessitates increased communication among various teams and external business partners.

To ensure that all team members work towards the same final objective, it is vital for agile teams to receive regular feedback and have the flexibility to make quick adjustments. Agile teams acknowledge that projects cannot be transferred from one team to another but instead understand that everything is interdependent, with the team as a whole responsible for resolving the programme, not just the individuals involved in it.

3. Self-Management and Autonomy

An agile team can only achieve great things if they can operate autonomously. With minimal guidance from leadership, teams should have the liberty to organize their own meetings, as well as all relevant interactions with external partners or stakeholders.

The greater the autonomy, the more reliable the output an agile team can provide, benefiting the organization significantly. Agile teams with the ability to work independently, without relying on a conventional project manager, can organise their own sprints and manage their own tasks. However, they still need access to essential tools to support their work.

4. Metrics Oriented

Agile teams need to be goal-oriented, and numerous analytical resources exist to aid in achieving these objectives. Evaluating the productivity of an agile team and identifying areas that may require improvement can be challenging. By tracking relevant agile metrics, teams can monitor their progress, assess how they collaborate, and make necessary adjustments. Atlassian has highlighted some of the essential indicators that agile teams should monitor in the following article

  • Tempo Training
  • Intense and Final Exhaustion
  • Collective Velocity
  • Quality Assurance and Control Indicators
  • Cumulative Flow Diagrams
  • Release Frequency
  • Velocity of Deployment

These agile development metrics can help teams track their progress and set tangible goals to strive for.

5. Multi-Functional

Inc has pointed out that team members from different departments in an organization can join forces to create a cross-functional team. These teams usually have the power to make project-related decisions independently, granting them complete autonomy over their work.

The success of an agile, cross-functional team hinges on its members possessing both common and complementary capabilities. By assisting each other with specific aspects or the entire project, team members can avoid the need for external resources. Consequently, workloads are evenly distributed, and team members are more likely to recognize and appreciate their colleagues’ contributions while collaborating in a cross-functional team. Failure to foster interdepartmental collaboration may result in decreased productivity and motivation, known as “agile sprint fatigue.”

To effectively transition your workforce to embrace and implement agile methodologies, it is crucial that both team members and management undergo a significant change in mindset. Without their unwavering commitment, an agile team is unlikely to achieve desired outcomes. It is worth keeping in mind that a thriving team requires members with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Although forming an agile team may take time, its performance should improve with time.

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