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Explore common types of Agile teams

Agile methodologies can take many forms, and one Agile team can look and perform very differently from the next. Communication, however, is always key.

There are various types of Agile teams, each based around distinct models or functions. Agile coaches and leaders should understand the differences between these teams to make informed, objective decisions.

In addition, it's critical to understand common metrics to track Agile team performance, as well as best practices to encourage team communication and collaboration.

Types of Agile teams

Agile teams can be organized in several ways. Some common examples of Agile teams include:

Feature team. This team consists of testers, developers and analysts that focus on multiple development disciplines. Typically, a feature team selects software features -- usually customer-centric ones -- from the product backlog and completes them one by one.

Product team. The group is tasked with various responsibilities, including defining and implementing roadmaps, building product features and services, and executing strategies. This team is comprised of individuals who transform thoughts and ideas into reality.

Component team. Rather than work on a feature from the product backlog, component teams typically focus on specific components of the application architecture. For example, component teams may "own" elements such as the UI layer or the data access layer.

Choose between a feature vs. component team

If an application is still undergoing significant modifications and updates, a feature team is generally more apt than a component team. Conversely, if an application is stable and experiences few changes, component teams are often a better fit.

It is possible to combine feature and component teams. Discuss which approach would best serve your goals before choosing the team direction.

Functional team. This is a group of employees who work together on tasks that are specifically related to their department.

Project team. This is typically comprised of people who are motivated and work together to achieve a specific goal. These teams are usually formed when an organization starts a new project or initiative.

Measure Agile team performance

There are many KPIs to measure and compare Agile team performance. It's essential to look at more than one factor and consider multiple metrics at once.  A few example metrics include:

Delivery of sprint commitments. To calculate this metric, look at the number of story points a team completes per sprint.

The number of defects closed per sprint. This metric indicates the quality of work each team puts out based on how many issues the team identifies and rectifies during a given sprint.

The team's velocity. Velocity measures the total amount of work a team can complete in a given period, such as a sprint. However, it should never be the ultimate measure of a team's capabilities.

Some additional metrics include predictability, productivity and stability.

The strongest Agile teams take advantage of both quantitative and qualitative feedback.

While metrics can provide quantitative insights into a team's performance, prioritize qualitative aspects, as well. These aspects include trust among team members, morale, communication and collaboration. Retrospective meetings are a great opportunity to discover ways to improve these aspects of a team's performance. The strongest Agile teams take advantage of both quantitative and qualitative feedback.

Foster team communication

The Agile development process entails frequent communication between colocated and geographically dispersed teams.

Ideally, Agile teams have daily, face-to-face meetings to discuss the day's objectives, challenges, concerns and suggestions. If holding those daily meetings in person is not an option, use Zoom, Microsoft Teams or another communication tool to facilitate cooperation among team members.

The following tactics enable Agile teams to more effectively communicate:

  • share the overall project vison with the team;
  • maintain transparency;
  • use the right tools;
  • keep team sizes small;
  • schedule daily stand-up meetings; and
  • arrange one-on-one, personal meetings.

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