Give the team the right possibilities

By Jesper Gunnarsson

An important success factor for success with an agile approach is to create strong development teams and give them and the product owner the conditions to succeed. Do you fund projects that start and end each year, or do you fund stable teams that take full responsibility for the product or service throughout its life cycle? These three ways of organizing your work will help you succeed in your agile work.

1. Establish stable and strong teams

When you finance projects for one year, with another financing plan the following year, it leads to short-term planning and reactive decisions. Successful products and services are characterized by long-term investment and a personal commitment, with a clear vision for the future of the product or service. In this context, there is nothing that beats an agile product development team with a product owner who feels a personal responsibility for the product's development and operation.

By financing agile product development teams, instead of various projects, it is clarified who has the responsibility and mandate to decide how the product or service should be further developed and continue to deliver customer value. In practice, responsibility for the product is delegated where it is most effective: to the product owner and the product development team.

2. Change planning perspective, let the projects come to the team

Classic system development projects are by nature resource-optimized and financed for a limited and relatively short time. Projects also usually do not look at the whole of the business area in question and it is therefore not uncommon for an IT project manager to do what is "best for the project", which can sometimes lead to being out of step with, or complicating the work for, other projects. within the same business area. Therefore, it is also common to miss potential positive synergy effects of the work performed.

Instead of staffing the projects in the traditional form, one should organize oneself in small stable development teams that take on various projects and tasks in order of priority. In other words, you lead the projects to the team instead of different teams to different independent projects. With this inverted planning perspective, you can deliver customer value in a continuous value stream that consists of one or more products. A value stream arises when small independent parts are delivered often and regularly to the customer. Scrum is a very popular system development method to achieve that goal.

The key to getting each team to deliver in the value stream is the Product Owner. In Scrum, the Product Owner is solely responsible for prioritizing and setting large requirements in a project for small independent and continuous deliveries in the form of a product. In contrast to traditional project work, product work is constantly value-optimized, financed over a longer life cycle, and carried out against the background of a so-called roadmap that provides a holistic view of the value stream.

3. Let the development team act as a goal-seeking robot

Agile development methods such as Scrum are developed to operate in unclear circumstances where the requirements are constantly changing. Scrum equips the development team for an sometimes chaotic environment with light-hearted planning ceremonies and frequent checks on reality. This enables the team to work as a target-seeking robot that can quickly change course when the requirements change.

To achieve this quick footing, the development team needs to build small increments that can be evaluated often and regularly by the customer.

The product owner is responsible for maximizing the value that the product adds to the customer and that is delivered by the team. To help the team quickly adapt to customer requirements, the product owner should break down the requirements into small, well-defined building blocks so that the development team can deliver and receive feedback from the customer in quick iterations. In this way, the team works like a goal-seeking robot that can quickly correct its course and reach the intended goal. The team's time is used efficiently and you spend minimal time developing the wrong functionality that no one wants to use.

Do you want to learn more?

Our consultants work in most agile roles such as Product Owner, Agile Coach, Scrum Master and Release Train Engineer (RTE). We help companies and organizations with the introduction and coaching of agile working methods.

In the course Product Owner Boot Camp, you learn more about how to work effectively in the role of Product Owner and deliver more benefit to the customer. Biner holds a number of open and company-adapted courses per year.