Management

Management models for agile teams

Software dev project management and Scrum as a framework

According to our experiences, Scrum is extremely efficient tool as an agile project management framework in the software development projects, although in order to work properly, all other fundamental elements, such as roles and tools utilized in dev project, needs to be defined in the first place. Organizational structure have a major influence into the nature of the dev operation.

Below is example of the matrix structure commonly used with in-house product development teams:

Matrix structure consists from the units responsible of the main processes, such as domain specialists acting as a product owner, developers and QA in separately managed units. Scrum teams are merged from members of each unit. Scrum teams tends to be built on interim basis and they are usually responsible for one of the product lines (e.g. country or product version specific) or software modules (e.g. such as payment platform, API´s or other industry specific implementations).

When operating with outsourcing model, typically product owner represents client organization and outsoucing dev site provides actual dev team with scrum master/team leader in place

With this approach, teams are built by combining two organizations. Model is commonly used in nearshored and offshored software development operations. If compared to the in-house dev team structure, outsourced operations contain several complex elements that Nearshored.com is dedicated to solve.

Managing agile dev teams

When managing agile dev teams, project model have significant influence in how to organize. Typically incremental structure consists from elements described below in the “feature lifespan” image:

 In order to manage release process successfully, each phase needs to be well organized. Example:

  1. If planning and specifying new feature goes wrong and it needs to be iterated afterwards, this alters the scope and usually a lot of time is being wasted due to iteration. Core value of good planning and design is, in addition to optimizing value for the end users, that it spares time from the team from unnecessary iteration
  2. In the backlog refining phase, if collaboration between product owner, whom is responsible of the outcome of the new feature and scrum master, whom is responsible from the technical implementation, does not work properly there is high risk that some essential elements of the new feature are misunderstood and therefore outcome goes eventually wrong
  3. There are variable ways of managing planning, but it is essential that roles and responsibilities are clear. If planning fails, at least one of the following events materializes due to mismanagement:
  • Product owner is not participating by giving clear and understandable instructions of the preferred outcome
  • Scrum master does not bother to dig into details before planning and sticks into “I am one of the developers, my task is not to manage” approach, which eventually leads to lack of technical guidance and this usually leads either to high amount of iteration during the development and in the worst case, bad outcome into production
  • Team does not have enough focus into the planning, but instead wants to get “back to coding asap”, which then leads into situation where not enough questions are not asked and specifications are not examined in details -> not enough understanding is established between team members and eventually team fails with deadlines due to excessive amount of time spent in iterating feature
  • Once team leaves from the planning, if they do not have complete understanding of the feature and sprint scope, it tends to lead into a loop during sprint where developer is pushing in commits in a hope of getting things right, QA is rejecting due to bugs, or in worst case, QA is not well enough prepared either and bugs goes into production once new version is deployed. This tends to be extremely expensive and bad way of doing things in agile!

There are ways to prepare your team properly in order to avoid lackluster team performance. Nearshored.com is eager to help you in adjusting your agile project management processes right.

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