Software is best developed in a team environment, using a solid methodology and the right tools. The most effective software teams today are Agile Development Teams. In this article, we’ll dive deeper into what an agile team is and how it works.
What is an Agile Team?
Agile teams work to actualize a vision for a program and create a tangible and demonstrable product. Being agile for teams means that teams have to create software while being able to adapt quickly and easily to changes. Being part of an agile development team means that you are part of a project management method that emphasizes communication and speed while working towards a final deliverable.
Green Marimba works with an Agile methodology, for continuous development and fast improvement. Through incremental changes, we code and test to quickly advance towards a fully tested, bug free end product.Continuous development relies on code repositories and branching processes to make sustained incremental changes to existing code. Let us show you how we do software development.
How Agile Development Teams Work
Agile project management, as mentioned, places great emphasis on communication and speed while moving towards the goal and creating the final deliverable. To be able to adapt quickly and easily, the tasks of the agile team are broken down into short phases (called sprints) of work.
Deliverables at the end of these sprints are subjected to reassessment and are then adapted according to the current landscape and plans, making it easier for the team to overcome challenges along the way.
Needless to say, teams are subjected to various tasks and demanding deadlines which then require strong communication throughout the process. Without proper communication, it can be difficult for team members to coordinate with each other.
The Scrum Style of Agile Development
Scrum style agile development is widely used by development teams—which is why we’ll focus on explaining it here.It’s widely used because it comes in handy when managing complex software and product development. The style uses iterative and incremental processes that increase productivity and is quite similar to the waterfall process wherein all members are involved in the process.
As you can see, this is the best style for agile development teams because it’s designed to allow smooth adjustments to rapid-changing requirements. The iterative and incremental processes are utilized during reassessments.
Agile Team Structure
There are generally five agile team structures to choose from and each will be discussed below.
Generalist Agile Teams
As the name suggests, this team structure allows any team member to take on a task at any point of the project. This structure is effective for teams with members who are flexible and open to diverse roles. This also works best when the project is well-understood.
The downside of this team structure is that it only works for teams with members who can work with anything and still produce great results.
Specialist Agile Teams
In contrast to a generalist team, this team is composed of individuals who have specific sets of skills. Each team member is assigned a specific role which is vital to the entire project. This structure works best if you have very specific goals.
Parallel Agile Teams
This team structure makes everyone change jobs for every work phase. Everybody works on the same, or a similar, task during each phase.
This kind of team structure is great for training members to be well-versed in different roles. However, it can be difficult to manage especially if members start with different skill sets.
Transitioning Agile Teams
Given the name, this team structure is often utilized when you’re transitioning to a new way of work. This comes in handy when you want to train your team to handle new kinds of workloads or schedules without overwhelming them. However, since it’s just useful for transitioning, it’s not great for long-term use.
Agile Product Sub-Teams
Although agile development teams are already focused on specific goals, an agile product sub-team structure can also be needed. This is simply a self-contained unit within a larger team. The team is responsible for a specific focus area of the larger agile team’s work. To paint a clearer picture, a sub-team is just one crayon in a box of crayons. But all these crayons are aimed at putting color into a black and white picture.
Agile Team Roles and Sizes
Regardless of what structure you use, agile team roles are staples when it comes to making a successful development team.
Agile Team Roles
There are four common agile development team roles: Team Lead, Product Owner, Team Member, and Tester.
The Team Lead (which can also be the Scrum Master for the Scrum style), is the facilitator of the team. Just like every team leader, this person directs the project, is responsible for finding resources and making sure everybody’s on the right track. Team leads head up frequent meetings and communicate directly with clients to be sure a project is on track.
The Product Owner is often the client or the person representing the client. They need to have a clear understanding of the project goals and end-user stories, to make the goals a reality. All team members work to ensure that the product is developing in concert with the product owner’s requirements.
The Team Members are usually the developers, whether front-end (UI/UX developers) or back-end developers. But any person who brings something valuable to the table can be a team member.
The Tester’s role is basically to test the product being made. Since the workload is divided into several sprints in agile development teams, testers play a vital role during each phase. Testers must be integrated into the project from the start, to be sure that all previous and succeeding tasks work to make the final product.
Agile Team Size
The ideal size when it comes to making an agile team is having five to six people on board. This size makes it manageable for the team lead to facilitate tasks without having too many people to look after.
However, projects and goals can also affect the number of team members. It’s up to the team lead to decide on what’s the most productive number to deliver the product.
Tools of the Agile Trade
The best methodology also requires using the best tools to get the job done. We have a solid process which relies on the best software tools available.
We Work with Trello
Trello assures that assignments and communications are tracked and stored in one place, for every task.
Once the Trello board is created and the team is in, we’ll get the team together to discuss timelines, priorities and current assets and assignments. We’ll make sure that you understand how to communicate via Trello and know what to expect of our team.
Working in Trello is easy. Boards are created to define a project. Columns are added to the board to Categorize the process. Columns can include things like, Pending, On Hold, To do, In Progress, Done, and valuable information such as Resources and Documentation. Cards are added within the columns detailing specific tasks and action. Within the cards, users add comments, add documents, images and links, keeping all necessary items in one place. @mention a team member to send them a message about a task, and Trello will email them with a link back to the card.
GitHub Is Key to Agile Development
GitHub brings together the world’s largest community of developers to discover, share, and build better software. Our team leaders set up projects and create and assign issues to technicians here. We define projects comprised of issues that are set for specific release dates. The programmers work issues, make comments and collaborate if necessary to complete a task. They then commit code for testing. Using GitHub brings all these pieces together in one place.
Technicians use GitHub to keep track of all coding changes, merges and change logs. This is a great tool to keep track of progress and an invaluable assist in troubleshooting issues caused by unexpected results from code changes.
Let’s Work Together
At Green Marimba, we pride ourselves in offering a solid agile methodology and transparent costs to help clients budget accordingly and gain peace of mind knowing we have every aspect of your systems under control. We proactively manage your IT assets, recommend strategic solutions for your specific business goals, and provide rapid support on all projects.