What are the characteristics of agile teams?

What are the characteristics of agile teams?

Author: Constantin Magdalina, Emerging Trends and Technologies Expert

Digitization is a phenomenon that affects companies decisively. Digital is not a specific technology or solution, it is simply a word that describes our world today. Technological advances have blurred the lines between the physical world and the virtual world, and offer new avenues for companies to create value. Speed and flexibility have become valuable factors for companies and have a fundamental impact on the operating model of companies. In this context, agility is highlighted as a way of working in a team that allows companies to increase their profitability by 60%, reduce their costs by 30%, and 93% of companies that adopted the agile way of working before the pandemic had superior results to those who did not.

An agile team is a multifunctional team of 5 to 11 people, who self-organize and who define, build, test, and deliver increased value in a short amount of time. As the quality of communication decreases as the size of the team grows, agile companies tend to prefer these smaller, self-managed teams to deliver results that meet customer needs and expectations.

The notion of agility means not only speed but also the shared responsibility of team members: roles do not matter as much as results. An agile team understands the project, breaks it down into fragments or modules, works on it individually cross-functionally in 1-4 week stages called sprints, tests implementation, and often completes the project well before the deadline.

The development of a product or service is carried out through iterations or rapid development cycles deployed in a shorter time. In other words, instead of a monolithic development strategy, agility involves working on project fragments at the same time, making changes and adjustments easy and manageable.

Executives and managers interested in adopting agility in their companies or teams need to understand the key features of an agile team, as follows:

1. Common vision

Agile is not so much about the set of activities and methodology, but about mentality and attitude. The members of a successful agile team will share the respect for their colleagues, the continuous improvement through the honest retrospective of the sprint, the attention to the iterative process for generating results.

2. Accountability

Agile team members take accountability for their failures and continue to develop their skills until they see growth and development. Experienced Agile practitioners will always have enough decision-making space and will stay within the limits of the organization's values.

3. Value-based development

An agile team always focuses on product features and keeps tcustomer-focusedsed as a key element for early value planning and development. After that, the iterations continue in the testing phase of the application before delivering it, in the order of priority of the functionalities.

4. Continous planning

Continuous planning is inevitable for an agile team. Once it launches the product/application in a feature-priority mode, the team initiates the next iteration level, which it breaks down into separate technical tasks for selection and planning for the next set of features. It is lighter and gives accurate results in large projects. In this way, the "elephant" is not eaten all at once, but bites by bites.

5. Adapting to change

An agile team changes traditional sequential methods with a new approach that responds to the changing needs of the client. In doing so, it ensures that it integrates the agile approach with the customer's business functions and facilitates finding value for the customer.

6. Continous feedback

The framework of an agile team includes improving product performance based on feedback. The team follows iterative approaches to improving performance based on feedback. However, in deadlock situations, the agile team focuses on on-time delivery, limiting work in progress and ensuring that all work runs smoothly.

7. Relative estimation

An agile team will practice relative estimation to predict the necessary characteristics of a product, speed up planning, and eliminate unnecessary complexity from the development process. When a characteristic exceeds the planned estimation time, it is divided into several characteristics and the estimation is successively refined.

In conclusion

Agile teams mean more than talented members. The composition and dynamics of the team play an important role. In fact, in an agile team, the biggest impact on the team's performance is the way the team works together. The formation of an agile team must take into account these seven characteristics, but it is important to make the most of the company's possibilities for the successful adoption of agility.

About Constantin Magdalina

Constantin Magdalina has 15 years of working experience, while he performed in multinationals both in Romania and abroad. Constantin has a Master’s degree in Marketing and Business Communication from the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest. He is certified in Lean Six Sigma and ITIL (IT Information Library®) which provide him a good understanding of processes and transformations within organizations. The Chartered Institute of Marketing certification further complemented his expertise and knowledge in business. In his over 4 years of working activity in a Big4 company, he initiated and conducted studies that analyzed different aspects related to the business environment in Romania. He is the author of numerous articles on topics related to innovation, the efficiency of business processes, social media, the consumers’ buying experience in the age of digital, trends, and emergent technologies. He is invited as a speaker at numerous events and business conferences.