If you are interested in software development or your work is somehow related to the IT industry, you’ve probably heard such a word combination as an “agile team”. But what is an agile development team? What requirements should be met by a team to be characterized as agile? And why do companies try to follow namely this model in their work? This article provides answers to all these questions and explains how to build an agile software development team to reach your goals.
Let’s start with the most general overview of our topic under consideration and then dive deeper into more details.
Agile Development Team: What is It?
If you open any modern vocabulary with definitions, you can find out that an agile team follows the Agile methodology in its processes.
But let’s admit that that’s not a definition that brings enough clarity.
An agile approach to software development presupposes using practices and methods built following the principles and values described in the so-called “Agile Manifesto”. This Manifesto was written by a group of software developers and was made publicly available in 2001. Since that time, this approach has been gaining popularity across numerous developers as one of its core values - flexibility - is precisely what the modern world of business needs.
In an agile team, all members are self-organized, and managers have just a supportive role. The Agile methodology perfectly corresponds to the modern realities and is very adaptable to any challenges and changes. It focuses not on the entire project and its immediate launch, but on continuous delivery and satisfaction of the client’s needs.
The 12 fundamental principles that an agile team is built on are proclaimed in the Manifesto. Let us mention just a few ones:
- The primary measure of progress is a functioning product.
- Clients and developers must work together.
- A face-to-face conversation is the best way to share information with a development team.
- Changing requirements are okay at any stage of development if they are aimed at building a better product.
- Customer satisfaction can be ensured via the continuous delivery of valuable software.
Agile Development Team Structure
The agile software development team is always cross-functional. This group usually includes specialists with the skills that are necessary to build a fully functional product. Thanks to uniting experts with different backgrounds, it is possible to get various perspectives on one issue and find the best solution.
The agile team structure is also non-hierarchical (the team has a flat design, each member has a defined responsibility, but additional management layers are removed) and collaborative (collaboration and open communication within a team are a must in the agile methodology).
A recommended size of an agile team can vary depending on the specificity of the project that the team will work on. However, there are some core agile development team roles:
- Team members. This term is an extensive term that can unite experts in different spheres. For example, team members are usually programmers, designers, QA engineers, and others in software development.
- Team lead. This specialist is responsible for coordinating the team processes. In the Scrum methodology, this role is known as a Scrum master.
- Product owner. This person should represent the client’s needs, outline the requirements, and ensure they are followed in the development process.
- Stakeholders. Quite often, stakeholders do not participate in the project directly, but they significantly influence the product itself. This group includes, for example, investors and end-users.
There are different types of agile teams:
- Generalist. Each member of the team has general knowledge of a wide range of topics. Everyone can take on any task at any time.
- Specialist. Each member has a specific skill set and a particular area of expertise, and as a result, all specialists work only on one aspect.
- Hybrid. This model combines the features of the two ones mentioned earlier and ensures excellent flexibility.
- Parallel. In this model, Agile team members change their roles each iteration. So, for example, if one iteration a person works as a developer, they will move to test on the second one.
- Sub-team. Each sub-team is a unit of a larger team, each of them has a specific task or area of work, but a final product depends on the efforts of each of them.
Main features of an agile development team:
- Close communication
- Shared skill sets
- Regular iteration deliveries
- Simple code design
- Frequent reviews of the code written
- Continuous improvement
- Learning and knowledge-sharing.
Supporters of the Agile methodology believe that to reach the highest customer satisfaction. Developers should be ready to adapt to any changes and deliver a working product as soon as possible. And so do we at Geomotiv.
We like this approach and do our best to implement its main principles in our work. Customer satisfaction is the main priority and the reference point that guides us in our development process. The Agile methodologies that we apply help us to follow all the specific requirements on each project. We are very flexible, and we welcome all requirements changes introduced to bring higher value to the product that we are working on. We always try to build a very close communication with our customers, as we know that it is one of the most important ways to achieve success in our cooperation.
Benefits of Agile Software Development Teams
We've chosen this approach not because “agile” is a buzzword in the IT world today but because of all the benefits that this method brings. Below you can find just a couple of them.
- Possibility to reach the highest quality of software products thanks to continuous delivery and iteration approach
- Better customer satisfaction thanks to the participation of a client in a decision-making process
- Enhanced control, transparency, and predictability
- Continuous improvement
- Practically zero risks of failure of the project.
Agile Software Development Lifecycle
The lifecycle in the Agile method is formed from the following stages:
- Concept - at this stage, projects are identified and prioritized.
- Inception - the team composition is set, initial requirements are provided.
- Iteration/Construction - the development process is organized in the form of iterations. The team delivers working software based on the set requirements and feedback received from the customer.
- Release - this stage includes testing, training, development of documentation, final iteration, production, and deployment.
- Production - ongoing maintenance and support of the product.
- Retirement - end-of-life activities (they can also include legacy software migration).
An iteration process can be described as follows:
- Definition of the requirements for the iteration
- Design and development of the software
- Delivery of the working iteration
- Getting customer and stakeholder feedback and formulating requirements for the next iteration.
There is a wide range of Agile methodologies that can be applied today. But let us focus only on a couple of them.
The most popular framework used by Agile supporters is Scrum. It views the project realization as a series of sprints that are usually two-week long. Every day the team has 15-minute meetings (scrums) that help to synchronize their activities.
- Deadlines of every sprint act as an additional motivation for the team members.
- Daily scrums bring better transparency and help to avoid mistakes.
- The method is very dynamic. It allows the team to reorganize priorities if needed quickly.
- The role of each developer may not be well-defined, which can cause some confusion.
- The segmentation of the development process can make the team focus only on some particular tasks.
This word is translated from Japanese as “just-in-time”. It suggests that the team should organize their work according to a Kanban board table that contains a particular column for every process/flow of the software development cycle. There is a card for each task. Thanks to this table, every team member can see the status of each task, which ensures high transparency and an excellent understanding of the entire progress.
- Possibility to track the progress
- Ability to regulate the number of tasks, for example, if there is too much work in progress.
- Continuous delivery.
- Possibility to misinterpret info contained in the Kanban board
- Chance of time-related problems as there are no exact time frames in this method.
Extreme Programming (XP)
This methodology is built on such values as simplicity, communication, respect, courage, feedback. The key priority is customer satisfaction. Teamwork plays a vital role, and the whole team solves all problems. The XP method presupposes conducting testing from the first day, gathering and analyzing feedback, and introducing changes in the product to deliver the software that perfectly meets the customer's needs.
- The development process is more agile than in other methodologies, thanks to continuous testing.
- The team tries to write a simple code that makes it possible to introduce changes at any moment.
- All developers see the entire development cycle and have a good understanding of their goals.
- The focus on code simplicity can lead to paying less attention to design.
- This method cannot be the best choice for the teams working remotely.
This method is organized around seven fundamental principles. Among them, we should mention fast delivery, quality development, optimization, deleting everything that doesn’t matter, creating knowledge, respect for the team and some others.
- Saving time thanks to omitting activities that have less importance.
- Simple scalability and adaptability of this methodology.
- Strict dependance on the proclaimed principles and on the team’s ability to follow them.
- Division of some tasks onto several elements which can lead to the lost focus.
This is a family of Agile methods, it includes different approaches designed for teams of different sizes. However, all of them are focused on the same principles. They are community, skills, people, talent, interactions and communication. The main idea for developers is to build an efficient interaction in order to deliver the product of the highest quality via a well-organized development process.
- Frequent deliveries
- Space for improvements
- Close communication and knowledge-sharing within the team.
- Difficulties in using this method for team members who are based in different locations.
- No strict dependence of planning and development on the set requirements.
If you want to launch your app or enhance your already existing system, we would be happy to help you! Share your ideas with us, and our experts can find the best solution for you.
How to Build an Agile Software Development Team?
Being on the market since 2020 at Geomotiv, we’ve managed to elaborate our own rules that help us to build our teams under Agile principles. And now we’d like to share the best practices with you.
- Build close collaboration with your customer. The more you know about your client, the better you can understand the provided requirements and needs. Make your customer a participant in the development process.
- Ensure efficient communication within a team. There is a direct relation between teamwork quality and project success. Agile teams rely on their members, their skills, and their ideas more than on tools.
- Motivate your team members. It is already a well-known fact that motivated people perform better and are more interested in reaching goals than those who have lost motivation.
- Prioritize tasks. Let’s admit that all functions can’t be of equal importance. Your team members should clearly understand the priority and see the changes in their essence. Usually, it’s the task of a product owner to set the preferences.
- Welcome changes. As we've already highlighted more than once in our article, flexibility is one of the critical characteristics of the agile approach. Changes are not a disaster. They reflect your customer’s current needs and demands, and you aim to ensure the highest customer satisfaction via delivering a valuable product.
Please bear in mind that the creation of an agile team is not a task for one hour or one day. Building a team of this type is not about just hiring the right specialists. It’s more about changing the philosophy shared by your team members and making sure that everyone clearly understands it. However, this mission is possible. And if you’ve decided to try good luck!
But if you want to hire an Agile software development team to build a software project for you, do not hesitate to contact us. We are always open to new ideas and cooperation. We would be happy to support you in your business journey with a reliable and innovative software product that can fully meet all your requirements. Fill in our online form to get a professional reply from our experts.
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