Agile Teams

Agile Team’s represent those who provide direct value to one, or more Agile Customers.

This includes dedicated cross-functional product/service teams supporting external customers, and functional shared service teams supporting internal customers.

To reduce the negative impact of external dependencies, Agile Team’s should be empowered to manage as much of their customer’s journey as possible.

This ensures that the team can be agile in responding to rapidly evolving needs, support activities and frequent changes in priority.

Team Composition

Common questions that arise when discussing team composition is:

  • Can we use a virtual team?
  • Must we have a cross-functional team?
  • Can we still use our low-cost resources?
  • Do we have to be co-located? etc

A typical consultant answer is: “It depends…”

However, in we can be more specific.  It depends upon the specific targets with The Goal.

For example, if you have a 5-minute, Time to Value target for support. It would be quite difficult to achieve this with a support team based on the other side of the world. With such an aggressive target, a co-located team that is physically close to their Agile Customer makes the most sense.

Shared Responsibilities

Specific responsibilities include:

  1. Formalise the Customer’s long-term needs, wants and desires in an achievable Product/Service Vision and define The Goal.
  2. Formalise the Customer’s short-term, value-based priorities in an actionable Product/Service Backlog.
  3. Deliver value quickly, consistently and sustainably and ensure value is realised.
  4. Minimise Product/Service waste to increase overall value potential.
  5. Plan, execute and analyse collected data from customer-value experiments.
  6. Develop competencies to ensure Backlog items can be completed on time.
  7. Conduct frequent retrospectives to enhance the realisation of the Product/Service Vision.

4.2.1 Critical Success Factors and Challenges

Specific CSF:

  • Can manage as much of the Customer’s Journey as possible
    • Fewer dependencies on other teams which may slow them down
    • May, or may not be cross-functional
  • Enable Agile Customers and Agile Leaders (and vice versa)


Balancing Time Effectively (and fairly)

The Agile Team cannot be 100% dedicated upon customer requests without having a negative impact upon overall team performance.

We tend to be too optimistic when sizing customer requests (i.e. our level of effort assumes a best-case scenario).  This rarely (if ever) works out to be true.

If we are dedicating 100% time to customer requests, and our sizing is inadequate, we may need to spend 120% time on customer requests alone.

This will negatively impact the other categories of work the Agile Team must complete, e.g.

  • Internal Efficiencies
  • Experiments / Innovations
  • Competency Development / Training
  • Knowledge Sharing

In the short-term, this negative impact may not be felt. Particularly, if the Agile Team is achieving customer and business targets.

Unfortunately in the long-term. You can expect that each excluded category has predictable consequences:

Category of WorkPredictable Consequence
Internal EfficienciesHigher costs, high manual overheads and temporary fixes that are prone to failure.
Experiments / InnovationsLow, or no innovations resulting in loss of customers, market share.
Competency DevelopmentDemotivated employees and a higher reliance upon external expertise which causes dependency issues.
Knowledge SharingProblems that reoccur and reinventing the wheel across multiple Agile Teams.

In addition, the constant pressures to work 120% (or higher) typically result in the long-term consequence of higher than normal attrition rates as employees become demotivated and burned out.