Principles of Agile team organisation
In many ways, Agile teams work much like any other change delivery function
Like any other team, they include:
- A core delivery team.
- An extended support network of experts & authorities.
- Regular governance.
In other ways, however, Agile brings a radically different model of organisation. In fact, Agile often ignores or even flatly contradicts most of the traditional rules of project organisation.
This is illustrated by the basic principles that govern how Agile teams are organised.
|The Agile team is small.|
|The Agile team is simple.|
|The Agile team is self-organising and non-hierarchical.|
|The Agile team is insulated.|
|The Agile team is professional.|
|The Agile team sets its own work.|
|The Agile team is collaborative.|
|The Agile team is self-sufficient & cross-functional.|
|The Agile team is collocated.|
|The Agile team is permanent.|
The Core Team
The Core Team is the group that is responsible for the actual development of working software – the basic goal of Agile.
It is in almost all respects the Agile team – and it is only because modern uses of Agile are so diverse that they aren’t quite identical.
Creating the Core Team is probably the most difficult challenge in building an Agile organisation. Unfortunately it is also the very heart of the Agile approach – if you cannot follow the Core Team model of organisation, you will probably find Agile impossible!
Agile includes many responsibilities that belong to no one. That’s because they belong to everyone.
General role responsibilities
At the highest level, this is what each member of the Core Team does. For more details of what each individual role is responsible for, click on the relevant role title or navigate to the role’s dedicated page via the People menu.
The following is a map of the top-level responsibilities each role has for each Agile practice. See the individual practice pages (under the Lifecycle menu) for details.
|Practice||Product Owner||Iteration Lead||Developer||User||Extended team|
|Product Planning||Lead||Involved||Business, SMEs|
|Create a Story Map||Involved||Lead||Involved||Involved||Involved|
|Iteration 0||Involved||Lead||Involved||Involved||SMEs, Architects|
|Daily Stand-up Meeting||Lead||Involved||Involved|
|Create a Story||Involved||Involved||Lead||Lead|
|Create a Spike||Involved||Involved||Lead||Involved||As required|
|Estimate a Story||Involved||Lead||Involved||Involved|
- Leadership may be shared by several roles. With some exceptions, only the main lead role is identified here. For more detail, see individual practices.
- Agile201.com usually refers to the Developers and Users as simply ‘the Team’. In this table, they are distinguished to clarify the nature of user involvement.
The Extended Team
Although the ideal is self-sufficiency, this is very hard to achieve in large, complex corporate organisations. So we also need to take account of the Extended Team.
NB. If at all possible, skills or experience the team finds it needs regularly should be brought into the Agile team.
Extended Team roles & responsibilities
There are no formally defined or mandated roles in the Extended Team – it consists of whoever is needed for the work at hand.
Typically, the Extended Team might include:
|Executive||Strategy, direction, resourcing, global priorities.|
|Architect||Owner or authority on the technical Big Picture, standards, strategic goals, etc.|
|Integrator||Integrating the team’s outputs with that of other teams.|
|Independent tester||Validating on behalf of stakeholders, testing cross-team developments.|
|Procurement||Vendor selection, contract management, performance management.|
Candidates for the Extended Team
There’s no shortage of other candidates for membership of the Extended Team. Broadly speaking, it might include:
- Any SME:
- business, functional, technical (build master, DBA, etc.), implementation, support…
- Or authority:
- Process owner, operation manager, etc.
- Or other stakeholder:
- I.e., anyone who may affect or be affected by the team’s success.
For example, as well as the suggestions made above, many core Agile teams will need to create a relationship with some or all of the following:
Your own organisation may contain many others, or the same functions by other names.
Building your Extended Team
Extended Teams don’t just happen. For details of how to build an effective Extended Team, click here.