How to Improve Your Agile Team Performance
In this age, every organization is attempting to develop teams that produce predictable outcomes and deliver software that satisfies customer objectives and timetables. Following agile approaches and practices has become the norm for such teams to satisfy these business requirements. Every business stakeholder expects their teams to perform well and to release working software to production regularly.
Where and Why Agile Teams Struggle
While attempting to become high-performance teams, agile teams face numerous challenges. Changes in culture, effectively utilizing people’s expertise and experiences, adapting to new ways of collaborating with stakeholders, working, socializing, and understanding the business can all be difficult.
Critical Areas Where Teams Struggle
1. Adopting new practices and tools
latest tools and practices have become an essential component of keeping up with the world as Agile has evolved in software and non-software. Tools such as Github and Git are among the few tools that have increased the productivity of agile teams.
Test-driven development, DevOps, and Behavior-driven development are just a few of the new practices that have shown promise in improving the performance of Agile teams. Teams must be trained in all of these tools and techniques to function in an Agile environment and produce results that increase the company’s business value.
2. Dealing with cultural transformation.
While teams strive to become more agile, organizational and cultural factors influence their performance levels, such as solving dependencies with other teams in the same program or portfolio, implementing new release management processes, coordinating priorities and feedback with multiple stakeholders, and learning new communication and interaction channels. When these cultural issues aren’t addressed, it’s common to see pseudo-agile behavior when agile concepts are followed in the name.
3. Understanding the business purpose
Every team member must grasp the business purpose of the project they are working on and the impact new features will have on their software’s users. A new agile team tends to focus solely on their software component or feature, the technical aspects of producing it, or the immediate delivery requirement while ignoring the project’s larger picture. As a result, teams deviate from the path of client value and needs.
4. Having an encouraging atmosphere
Agile is about more than just adhering to certain practices and rituals or using automated tools and technologies to accelerate software releases. It also necessitates that teams be fearless in the face of failure, capable of dealing with many unknowns, and capable of managing and embracing conflict. It’s also about having the ability to try out new ideas, experiment frequently, and fail quickly if you’re going to fail. Individuals afraid to try new practices and processes will be demotivated and will not produce innovative solutions if they do not work in a safe environment.
5. Being operationally diligent
Being operationally disciplined entails sticking to a set of well-defined, well-proven, and well-thought-out processes and executing them correctly regularly. In agile, this entails having regular meetings and conversations with stakeholders for planning, user acceptability, team brainstorming sessions, and daily Scrum meetings, among other things. To be productive, these collaborative tasks necessitate a high level of commitment and discipline from team members.
6. Alignment on a common goal
The team’s pace will be hampered by a lack of shared belief in the team and a lack of knowledge of each team member’s function. Roles that are still aligned with conventional functional silos are typically ineffective since they are not on the same page as the rest.
7. Break down epics into user stories and consider acceptance criteria
Decomposing epics into user stories and predicting their size is one of the most critical actions in agile planning. Teams frequently lack the attention and capacity to examine requirements from a user-centric perspective, resulting in unclear user stories that are difficult to implement and test in the time allotted.
Approaches to Becoming a High-Performance Team
While coaching can help teams get started on the right track, it is ultimately up to the team to embrace agile principles and maintain efficiency in their activities and effectiveness in their outcomes. The following eight practices, in my experience, assist a team in becoming high performers.
1. Sharing knowledge and experiences
To get your entire business up to speed as quickly as possible, sharing information and experiences across all teams is vital. Organizational knowledge increases far faster if each team actively participates in team product demonstrations, showcases, and established agile communities of practice than if each team tries to learn everything independently. Sharing experiences often fosters relationships.
2. Regularly aligning with leadership
Agile teams should contact program sponsors or leadership frequently and share a clear understanding of project objectives. Teams should be aware of their role in achieving corporate goals, and when engaging with stakeholders, the entire team should speak with a single voice. If leadership asks the team to act in a way inconsistent with agile principles, the team must answer in unison that what is being asked is not acceptable agile behavior.
3. Defining user stories and requirements
One of the most critical activities in agile development is the successful decomposition of epics into appropriate user stories. This not only clarifies the needs for the agile team but also assists them inaccurately estimating their labor.
The Three Amigos technique, in which representatives from business, development, and testing have collective dialogues on deriving each user narrative’s behavioral characteristics and acceptance criteria, is a proven practice for effectively breaking down epics. Backlog grooming sessions should include your entire team to exchange ideas and clarify the parameters.
4. Practicing good communication and collaboration
It won’t be easy to achieve high performance inside the team and during the software delivery process without effective communication and collaboration. During iteration planning, the team must demonstrate discipline, close collaboration, and commitment with stakeholders and be open to feedback during review and retrospective meetings. Having the high-end infrastructure in the team’s workplace, such as video conferencing, messaging systems, and other collaboration tools, would assist distant teams in collaborating and communicating more successfully.
5. Create an energizing and lively work culture within your team
There will be minimal trust if team members are not transparent with one other and their stakeholders. It will be easier for everyone to express and articulate fresh ideas if team members trust one another, are open to comments and recommendations, are joyful, and encourage one another. These qualities can be instilled in team members through open-ended talks, minor victories, and ongoing leadership inspiration.
6. Playing a part in organizational change management.
It is the responsibility of management and individual teams to contribute constructively to the transformational change process while an organization is undergoing transformational change. Teams should continually demonstrate their commitment to accomplishing business goals by collaborating with business stakeholders regularly, all while contributing to developing a high-performing agile culture.
7. Practice system mindfulness and thinking
Each team must have a comprehensive understanding of the project and program they’re working on. To accomplish this, teams should have a thorough grasp of the client organization’s business domain, business rules, enterprise architecture, and applications and connect this knowledge with the software modules they’re working on.
8. Celebrate the team
Ensure that your employees are praised for their efforts and receive positive reinforcement. In your agile sprints, high morale translates to higher productivity.
9. Keep the team relatively small.
Agile development’s philosophy is encapsulated in its name: agile refers to the ability to move quickly and easily. What’s the best way to stay flexible? Limit the size of your developer teams to three to nine people. It is not a good idea to work with a large group. The more you do, the more people will lose information, and the more effort will be required to keep everyone informed.
Top Metrics to Measure Team Performance
Organizations will require analytics from your team, regardless of how you feel about them. But be cautious. You don’t want to focus on one aspect at the expense of other data. And you don’t want to measure too many things because it will divert your team’s attention. Several popular metrics can be used to measure success. They include:
ü Are we providing value to our customers?
ü Predictability is defined as the ability to plan and execute.
ü Productivity is defined as the ability to accomplish more in the same amount of time or with the same resources.
ü Quality refers to a product that is free of flaws and difficulties.
ü Stability: The company can keep up this pace indefinitely.
ü Is the organization expanding and learning?
leaders should set a strong example of how teams should operate by implementing practices that encourage collaboration. Business teams in projects are built-up of members from different cultures and backgrounds, and their personalities may probably not always mesh well in a team setting. Due to this fact, it is up to leaders to build a strong example of how teams should implement collaboration processes.
To stay on track with their goals, effective Scrum teams follow essential principles, therefore implementing those values to your organization, whether Scrum or not, can undoubtedly assist in improving collaborative methods inside your company.