Awesome. The decision has been made, the project has the green light and you’re ready to build. Well, nearly. I know you’re thinking, “C’mon already, really? If we don’t do this now we never will. Let’s get this show on the road!” But consider this—Agile is nothing if not about delivering value early and often while delighting your customers along the way. Taking some time to figure out the best way to deliver your project is the best laid foundation for success.

The Team

In sports, by thinking about your favorite team game, you’ll be able to recognize key roles that enable the team to perform as they do. Traditionally, you’ll find a manager, a captain, and the rest of the squad. Outside of that, you’ll find coaches, physios, nutritionists, and an assortment of supporting staff. But if we look at the game of rugby, there’s a team within a team: the players that make up the scrum. This pack is made up of designated players whose job it is to win the ball back and continue play. When a scrum is in play, the players from each side then work, with no leader, as a single unit as collaboratively, communicatively, and efficiently as possible to get the ball back in possession. It is the game of rugby that inspired Jeff Sutherland to name his software development methodology “Scrum.”

·         Scrum is not the only software development method in the Agile playbook. But it is the one that best describes the Agile concept and behaviors of working as a team, motivating individuals, creating trusting relationships, self-organization, servant-leadership, communication, transparency, and collaboration.

·         Your team will be formed largely by the circumstances you find yourself in. You may have developers available to you. Some, none, or all of them may be familiar with Agile to varying degrees. You may want to hire a new team or partner with a third party.

·         Other roles will be required too, but we’ll discuss those later.

·         It has been said that if your form your development team, then you’ve chosen your technology. Depending on where you bring your team together from, they’ll come with specific skillsets. So, think carefully how you form your development team and whether you need to perform a technical evaluation before you get to this point in your journey.

·         This brings us to cross-functional teams. Teams work best when they work together, when individuals pitch in to get the job done regardless of their title. Try to build a team that is self sufficient and individuals that take on more than one role.

·         Build an environment, culture, and relationship center—a place where the team can deliver, unencumbered by constraints or restrictions. Give the team the tools, people, resources, and space to be effective and performant.

·         Keep team sizes to no more than seven or eight. If you have a need for many more developers, split the team into multiple new teams. Each team might then be responsible for a given functional area. If you you have multiple teams in multiple locations, consider holding a Scrum of Scrums. And where these are numerous in complex environments, use Agile project management.

·         Ensure that the team, business, stakeholders, and even customers have access to one another. Ensure they communicate and collaborate, and remove anything that gets in the way of progress. Daily communication is the best cure for project ailments. When people speak, they get stuff done.

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