Agile software development teams are small groups of committed developers who work on software projects together either in-house or by recreating the proximity virtually, following the best practices of agile software development methodology.
Although the first agile team structure was created with software projects in mind, the agile principles of flexibility, responsiveness, and incremental value present an opportunity for every project that requires fast delivery.
You can create a workflow for almost any project by building a team with scrum roles and adopting the agile methodology principles. It requires a bit of inventiveness on your part and a knack for knowing what to keep and what to change. So, how do you get the juice of the work process used by agile software development teams?
What is the Agile Software Development Process?
Agile is an incremental process applied to project management that uses cross-functional team collaboration to complete short, dense pieces of work rather than relying on one big hit piece that comes at the end.
Applied to software development teams, agile is the process of developing sense-making pieces of code in increments, implementing and gathering feedback, and managing changes that show up in the development process.
The essence is simple: all stakeholders, including clients and developers, are actively involved in the process as it rolls out step-by-step (or sprint-by-sprint, in the language of agile) so that the most accurate actions are taken in line with everyone’s requirements and goals.
There are several approaches to the agile workflow process, Scrum and Kanban being the most famous ones. However, the principles of supple teams that can be built and dissolved according to how the environment changes are the dream of every manager. Therefore, you can find them and use them for remote projects to deliver high-quality predictable outcomes.
With agile, there are fewer nasty surprises, wasted hours, and failed projects because it is easier to uncover mistakes on time. In a nutshell, agile teams work better with SSOT (single source of truth).
Roles in Agile Software Development Teams
Depending on the applied agile methodology, multiple team roles are generally divided into three categories: Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Development Team Members.
(Note: Customers also have a role in the agile software development process. Although indirectly, they are responsible for their engagement in the feedback loops.)
The Product Owner manages product requirements, and the Scrum Master manages the product process.
Team Members are the actual executors — developers and testers. The agile scrum team can include QA Engineers, UX/UI designers, and Technical Leads.
The opinions about how many people should be on an agile team differ. The usual recommendation is between five and nine. This range retains role clarity and, at the same time, keeps the iterative process alive and lightweight.
It is most important to understand the scope of the roles and create them with clear descriptions so that you can apply and adjust the agile software development process to any project.
Make Any Project Agile
Applied to most projects, the pliable agile best practices simply work.
1. Assign team roles.
Large software projects with many technical requirements may need as many as nine roles. But when complex software is out of the equation, you don’t need as many.
For example, a small team for a marketing project can have one marketing person you can hire as a freelance consultant, someone who understands and is responsible for the requirements (acts as the Product Owner), and a person committed to running the processes in line with your business goals and values. The important element is having clearly defined, challenging, and growth-stimulating roles.
2. Define deliverables.
Identify the Product Roadmap — the top-level vision of what you want the team to produce. Split it into smaller tasks that will be a part of the Product Backlog or how the work is done day by day. The agile team self-organizes in terms of who does what from the Product Backlog in order of importance and priority.
3. Create a self-organizing team workflow template.
Without a workflow management system, team members with unrelated tasks or lack of communication won’t have the clue how to proceed. It is even easier to create workflows in a remote environment because the agile team structure minimizes distractions. There are many remote work tools you can use to jump straight into agile development without too many headaches.
4. Allow on-team decision-making.
Delegating responsibility for making decisions to the team members frees your time. It gives power to the most competent and engaged team members. It also improves the process based on feedback and boosts team morale.
5. Enable cross-team collaboration.
Agile software development teams are self-managed teams that work independently. Developers and testers know the skills of the trade pretty much or at least to keep the agile process running smoothly. However, cross-functional teams with many experts need also to be able to cross-collaborate without weighing down productivity, flexibility, and quality.
6. Give freedom about how the work is performed.
Tasks from the Product Backlog should not be any of your business. Team members decide what constitutes a task and how they do them.
7. Set up a feedback system.
Through a feedback system, you can track results, measure progress, and communicate across the team.
Self-organization, responsiveness, and higher quality of work are the three key benefits of agile software development teams you can steal and apply to any project.
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