Agile project development team meeting

Overview Agile Project Development Team

The Development Team has a hands-on role in developing the product and is comprised of many different types of individuals, with varying job roles and skills. Despite being managed by a Scrum Master, the Development Team must have the ability to self-organise and be empowered to make decisions to get the project done.

Despite having individual roles, the Development Team must be cross-functional and offer diverse perspectives

Responsibilities

In short, the Development Team are the ones who actually complete the project. They are responsible for many activities within Project Management, from the strategic to the tactical.

They are the only members of the project team who can deliver releasable increments, referred to as “done” increments, which are required at Sprint Reviews.

Characteristics of the Development Team

Self-organising

The Development Team organise themselves to make potentially releasable increments from product backlog. No other member of the Project Team, including the Scrum Master, tell the Development Team how to do this.

Cross-functional

All of the skills that are needed to create a product increment are present within the Development Team

Equal

There are no titles within the Development Team. All members are equal regardless of the work that they perform. 

There are also no recognised sub-teams within the Development Team, regardless of the areas that are to be addressed.

Whole Team Accountability

Despite each member of the Development Team having specialised skills and focussed areas, the accountability for the process lies with the team as a whole.

Team Size

So, what is the ideal size of a Development Team?

The team must be small enough to be flexible, but large enough to be capable of completing the significant amount of work involved within a sprint. Between three and nine Development Team members is recommended. Any less and interaction is decreased leading to smaller gains in productivity.

Having more than nine members of the Development Team presents greater complexity and requires a high level of coordination.

Generally, the Scrum Master and Product Owner are not included within this number, however they are included if they are involved in carrying out the Sprint Backlog work.

What Makes an Effective Development Team?

Having a Development Team that works well together in pursuit of excellence is vital to project success. Key aspects of an effective Development Team include:

Team Swarming

Becoming proficient in team swarming allows the team to work on one, or a small number of items at one time. This results in quicker completion of the items due to many individuals working together rather than handing off from one to another.

Refining product backlog together

An effective Development Team view the refinement of backlog a team effort, despite it being the responsibility of the Product Owner. They understand that the sustainability of the development pace depends upon the quality of the product backlog.

Having some slack

It is impossible for human beings to be productive all day long at a consistent level. Building slack into the sprint allows the Development Team time to relax, chat socially to colleagues or maybe check their social media.

Allowing the team to relax for short periods boosts their motivation and productivity and helps maintain their wellbeing.

Fun aside, slack also gives a contingency should any emergencies arise that the team need time to fix.

Sharing experiences

Sharing their experiences with peers both internally and externally helps the Development Team to continually develop their skills and knowledge, helping them to contribute more effectively to future projects.

A high level of trust

The Development Team as a whole are responsible for the outcome of the sprint, regardless of how well they have completed their part. Each member of the team must therefore trust that others will complete their own actions to the highest standard.

Deliver timely feedback

Having trust between team members facilitates the feedback process, allowing the team to give honest feedback in a respectful manner. Feedback is given wherever and whenever it is necessary without delay.

The Development Team truly are the cogs of the project. They possess all of the expertise needed to deliver potentially releasable increments of “done” product at the end of each sprint, and do so with a high degree of shared accountability and autonomy.

Other Agile Resources

For an overview of all of the core Agile roles take a look at the article, Overview of Agile Project Management Roles.