The Core Development Team's Role in an Agile Project

The Core Development Team's Role in an Agile Project

This excerpt from the upcoming book, Becoming Agile, discusses a necessity in ensuring corporate buy-in for Agile development: creating a collaborative team that can evangelize Agile in the company and shepherd the software engineering methodology through enterprise software development projects.

The key to a successful Agile migration is having the change driven from within. The change needs to be driven by key players throughout the company. Once this team is created they will be evangelists to the entire company.

The role of this group, which I call the Agile Core Team, is to learn as much as they can about Agile and use this knowledge to outline a custom Agile methodology for the company. The team will collaborate and reach consensus on new processes, then mentor project teams as they use the Agile techniques.

This core team is powerful and influential for three reasons:

Many companies use outside consulting to get their methodology going. I have seen several companies choose to go with Agile methods such as Scrum, and then have a third party come in and train, design, and deploy the methodology. In my opinion this approach is not as effective as growing the methodology from within. Creating it from within the organization addresses all of the issues with ownership. It is hard to get a team to buy into a process that was forced upon them. Note that there are occasions when an organization is so dysfunctional that it needs to have a methodology forced upon it. This is the exception, not the norm.

Obtain Team Members From All Areas

Once you obtain executive support you can pursue creation of the Agile Core Team. Your sponsor will probably suggest managers for the team, but you need to remind him that part of the power and influence of the core team is they are "doers." You might also find yourself pursuing the best and brightest people from each area. People with a positive attitude and a pro-Agile mentality. People that are open minded to change. These would be excellent attributes to list on a job opening, but would they be reflective of your current employee mix, the people that you want to embrace the new methodology? Probably not.

If your company is like most you probably have some mix of the following:

  • Brilliant and collaborative people
  • People that are brilliant but difficult to work with
  • People who challenge ever initiative
  • People who loathe change and avoid it at all costs

You need to make sure the makeup of the core team is similar to the makeup of the company. This will help you obtain buy-in from all types when you begin roll-out.

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