Agile Software Development Team: What Are Its Advantages and How to Build One
Posted Sep 22, 2022 8 min read
Imagine your project is about to get launched. You need a team of professionals capable of realizing all your plans. However, you don’t have a rigorous plan, willing to sacrifice predefined restrictions for a more flexible and creative workflow. How would you build such a team in your R&D center?
If you choose the right collaboration model, your chances of speeding up the workflow, increasing efficiency, and enhancing each member’s productivity go up dramatically.
In recent years, agile has become one of the most popular team frameworks. According to a Project Management Institute survey, 71% of organizations report using the agile technique in their projects. But why is this method getting so popular, and what are its potential benefits for your software development project?
Our post will answer these questions and explain how to build an effective agile team.
What is Agile Software Development Team
Before getting closer to the core principles of building an agile software development team, let’s define the basic terminology. An agile team comprises specialists who build digital products, finding the fastest and most efficient ways to deliver the desired solutions. Normally, such a team is relatively small, as its size directly impacts workflow effectiveness.
Here are the key features of the agile approach:
- Cross-functionality. All team members have skills in analytics, coding, and testing. Thus, they all participate in the development process and work together on every workflow aspect.
- Self-organization. Each member of an agile team can conduct project management and be responsible for the tasks they cope with. Together with higher responsibility, it increases collaboration efficiency and trust.
Development Team Types
The agile approach may be applicable to almost any software development project. However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, so the team’s type should be appropriate for the very case. There are different agile teams, depending on their purpose and structure.
The following options are the most common.
The generalist team members are skilled and flexible professionals with wide tech expertise. They have sufficient knowledge about many aspects of product development and can bring efficient solutions for small and middle-size projects of medium complexity. However, such a team may not suit a large project requiring an advanced approach.
The specialist team’s main feature is its members’ deep expertise in a specific development area. This approach is opposite to the generalist one, being less flexible yet more immersed in a certain niche. Thus, a specialist team might be a perfect match for a project requiring implementing an individual technology or solution at the top level.
A hybrid team mixes the best practices of generalist and specialist approaches. It combines comprehensive knowledge and narrow expertise to develop robust solutions for complex product development.
How Does the Agile Team Differ from a Traditional One
Since the agile method emerged, it has become a serious competitor to the team’s traditional workflow organization and collaboration. However, the classic structure isn’t outdated and still matches certain projects’ requirements.
Let’s overview the key aspects, differing agile and traditional product development teams.
While a traditional software development team needs clear requirements set beforehand, the agile approach allows quite an imprecise initial plan. You may change the project’s scope, goals, and certain tech aspects on the go. That’s why the agile method works best for a project without a strictly fixed budget and clear deadlines.
Additionally, the requirements can be more customer-centered and not focused on technical details.
Collaboration and Management
Traditional and agile approaches have different team structures and collaboration models.
A classic software development team involves strict project management. There’s a clear hierarchy with a team leader responsible for the overall productivity and efficiency. The other team members are focused on performing their functions.
In an agile team, all members are more likely to work together, having a common purpose. It increases the chances of collaboration efficiency, especially in a small group of professionals involved in a single project.
As far as the agile team’s workflow is joint and interdependent, the internal communication will likely be more informal and tight. The participants conduct regular ceremonies to share the deliverables, give useful tips, and brainstorm. Also, instead of a traditional project manager, such a team often has a scrum master moderating the project.
While a project built by a traditional team requires clear deadlines, milestones, and budget limits, the agile approach involves changes along the way. It often means that the hired team can speed up the development process and find more cost-efficient solutions in progress.
Agile Software Development Benefits
The agile method offers numerous advantages when compared to more traditional workflow models. It’s especially crucial for the projects requiring full immersion of specialists and flexible software development.
Here are the main features of the agile team your business may benefit from.
Data-driven Success Measurement
The team’s success and productivity are estimated based on key metrics and KPIs. It eliminates pressure and increases management transparency. For agile team members, improved Team Capacity measures their availability for the sprint. It’s measured by comparing expected and factual work units in a given period.
The other common metrics are on-time delivery, user satisfaction, business value, etc.
A data-centered approach helps increase the team’s productivity and objectively assess its readiness for the sprint.
Shorter Time to Market
An agile team can enhance communication which directly impacts software development speed. In particular, it’s possible due to the constant contact between the professionals and the client. Regular calls, workflow status updates, and validation help prevent unwanted misunderstandings.
Moreover, the agile method eliminates the risk of unnoticed errors that may snowball into a disaster and slow down the development process. Thanks to the client’s involvement and feedback, the developers are flexible and provide timely solutions.
Accelerated development leads to shorter time-to-market, increasing the product’s chances to succeed and withstand competition.
As mentioned above, the project requirements can be approximate when turning to agile development. No definite tech specifications are needed when the project starts. The agile team’s flexibility allows adding new features and looking for optimal solutions.
Nowadays, things change rapidly, so many startups find the agile framework highly beneficial. Such an approach makes the team less dependant on the predefined development strategy. Thus, they can adapt to the current market, business, and audience needs.
No Micromanagement Issues
Micromanagement is one of the key challenges of traditional software development teams. A classic approach involves strict control and hierarchy, where a team leader should constantly verify the workflow efficiency and distribute the tasks among team members. In contrast, agile teams’ cross-functionality and self-organization can handle collaboration without centralized control.
The agile method helps increase team cohesion and reduces the risk of rivalry that often causes unproductiveness.
Involving a scrum master role can efficiently replace strict project management. Rather, this person is a soft manager responsible for motivation, facilitation, and support.
How to Build an Agile Team Structure
Here are a few essential steps to build an agile team structure that will be efficient.
- Define the roles. Normally, an agile team consists of a product owner, a scrum master, and a team of experienced developers. Sometimes, some other stakeholders with specific roles are involved.
- Use Scrum and Kanban approaches. Scrum is a specific method implemented by many agile teams to facilitate workflow with the help of a scrum master and a product owner. Also, many teams use the Kanban approach to reduce the development time.
- Benefit from a cross-functional structure. One of the key agile method specifics is cross-functionality. The professionals work together on every development phase and support or replace each other when necessary.
- Measure the success. Using and visualizing key metrics like team capacity and productivity enables monitoring and improving every development aspect relying on unbiased and accurate statistics.
- Improve team performance. Agile team performance should be constantly tracked and adjusted according to the situation. Usually, a successful agile team conducts constant ceremonies and benefits from scrum master support.
Take Advantage of Agile Approach
Building an agile team in your R&D center is highly beneficial, especially when applied to ambitious projects and tech startups with much room for development. The agile approach will help you reduce time-to-market, increase flexibility, and involve dedicated specialists with cross-functional and self-organizational capabilities. Such a team also involves high communication and collaboration efficiency, tight client-vendor contact, and greater productivity.
Consider implementing the agile method in your project?
We at Dewais are experts in technologies and modern development trends. We can offer various approaches and solutions to support your business ideas. Drop us a line to learn more about agile software development and its benefits.