How to Build a Kick-Ass Agile Team?

How to Build a Kick-Ass Agile Team?

In today’s highly projectized world, there is a growing impetus to adopt project management culture in organizations across the globe. Enterprises are no longer reliant on traditional linear teams and are looking at changing the fabric of how teams function. In this regard, Agile has found widespread adoption because of its iterative approach, it allows a collaborative effort from developers, managers, and customers to create project requirements on the go. Moreover, Agile is more of a mindset than general set of rules, so it will be difficult to inculcate the same to a team in a less flexible corporate environment. So, let us look at 7 kick-ass ways to make any team an Agile team.

  1. Give freedom to users:

    In Agile project management, it regularly requires accurate feedback from users. As team members are busy with other urgent priorities they might be reluctant to share their feedback since this is new to them and they do not want to look inferior of being criticized by their peers.

    To bring in effective Agile management into the team, give them ample time to provide feedback, create a culture of learning and collaboration, and introduce the team to small and less riskier projects to implement Agile methodology. All these will help in building confidence in the team and they slowly start to embrace the Agile way.

  2. Cultivate flexibility across departments:

    Any team for that matter comprises members from different departments which needs effective collaboration to work together. Agile is all about collaboration between developers, testers, and customers to produce a software product / complete a project in an efficient manner. In a traditional project management set up, everything is defined up front, and to change something mid of the project is a difficult task. Creating a common communication platform for team members will make a huge difference, it enables seamless knowledge transfer across the team and helps everybody to stay on the same page when there is change of objectives.

  3. Foster exceptional communication skills:

    One of the major difference between a traditional team and an Agile team is exceptional communication skills. In a traditional team environment, communication is ad hoc and this leads to miscommunication which results in loss of productivity and deadlines missed. An Agile team is so skilled at communicating with each other that on the first instance of looking at the team, you do not even realize that they are communicating. To understand how they make their communication seamless, you need to know the process that they use. They will have a common repository of information bank where everybody updates their work status either virtually or physically. Even their ‘Stand-Ups’ are efficient and transparent, and a micro manager will find it difficult to adjust. Team members here do not think about communicating all the time, as it is deep-rooted in the team principles they do it by default, even when the team is spread out in different departments.

  4. Testing throughout the project and not an afterthought:

    In today’s time, customer acceptance is very important from the beginning of a project. Developers are more concerned about the design and the expected outcome of a story or a feature even before they start coding. There is a strong impetus that the design will be better if they know how the feature or a story should be tested. The main objective is to ensure the quality of the code is in line with customer’s acceptance. This also acts as a strong motivation for the team that is collaborating to bring a great software with excellent features. It is for this reason, testing should be done throughout the project and not as an afterthought which is usually the case in traditional way of managing a project.

  5. Encourage managers to have a hands-on approach:

    Gone are the days when project managers usually used to delegate things to team members. Today, project managers are required to be more direct and have a hands-on approach. If you want to change your team’s mindset to Agile way, then the change should happen first from the managers, they have to evolve from a command-and-control approach to being more direct and hands-on. They have to be even more involved, track and monitor activities, mentor, and motivate team members to achieve key objectives.

  6. Intelligent use of Consultants:

    Any organization that is trying their hand in any new framework or methodology, they bring in external consultants to show them how it is done. So, when you bring in third party consultants, make sure they fit your Agile strategy and nurture them to as they are part of the actual team. There are consultants who completely focus on creating so much code which in the end does not even match your original requirements. So be careful while sharing requirements and lay down possible ground rules so that they can come out of their “I know best” mindset.

    In fact, give them the freedom to say ‘No’ to new requirements if something is not feasible. Though requirements may change, consultants must ensure the projects are maintained within scope, completed on time, and within the allocated budget.

  7. Stay away from Gold Plating:

    Traditional teams have this tendency of ‘Gold Plating’ , which is common in software projects. Gold Plating is creating features in a software which the customer has not asked for. This is usually done by team members either individually or by collaborating with others thinking that a certain functionality would be really “cool” to have in the end product or to prove their abilities to the Project Manager.

    This is where Agile team is different from traditional team, the team does not offer any leeway for its team members to spend time on developing something that is not there in the project scope. The team clearly understand the business value that they want to achieve and will not entertain any form of Gold Plating. If the team believes, too much of time is being consumed for a particular feature or story, then they decide together to stop if they believe the value is not equal to the effort that is being put in.

Agile is all about being flexible and making adjustments as the project progresses, the team and its members are important entities in the overall picture. There is no need to create a superstar team filled with champions to achieve the end result, any team can become Agile by embracing flexible attitude and following its principles. Do let us know in the comments section if you can add more to this subject.

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