May 17, 2022

How To Build Your Own Agile Software Development Team

We know how frustrating it can be when your company has a big project they want to build but don’t have the resources they need available. What exactly is it that you need? A developer, a designer, a QA, or a scrum master? If you’re looking to build your own Agile Software Development Team, you’ll need to:

Define your need

Before building your team, you need to know what type of problem you need them to solve and how long you’ll need your team to work on solving the problem.

For instance, if you just need a prototype to confirm some assumptions or to help get buy-in from other executives on your team, or to raise investment capital, it might be best to work directly with a developer or two. This will allow you to quickly build something small, making many small changes in a very short timeframe.

However, a prototype is different from an application that manages future complexity in mind. Prototypes are unavoidably a mess of unkempt, hard to test, buggy code. They serve their purpose at a much lower cost but aren’t great for production.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have complex, maintainable, robust applications with intuitive user experiences. To build and maintain this application, you’ll need a comprehensive team of experts. Developers, Testers, Designers, Scrum Masters/Process Guardians, Engagement Managers, Architects, DevOps experts, and Product Owners.

Define your initial approach to an Agile process (or hire an Agile coach to help)

Agile is not “one size fits all,” and your team needs to find the approach that works best for them but produces the results you need as an organization. The trick is implementing just enough processes to allow them to do their best work.

Some organizations may initially adopt the Scrum framework since it is fairly prescriptive and comes with some basic guidelines for how to implement it out of the box. The Scrum Guide provides a good foundation of roles, ceremonies, and artifacts to start with, and you can evolve your adoption over time as your team matures. This is good for teams who are new to Agile and need a bit stronger guidance as they start, and the work they are doing can be easily broken down into discrete chunks that can be completed in a time-boxed iteration.

Depending on the type of work you are doing, integrating practices from Kanban might be more appropriate. Kanban is a specific implementation of certain practices and principles of Lean and focused on visualizing hidden work and collaboratively improving the flow of that work. It is not as prescriptive as Scrum as it is not a framework in itself, but rather a continuous improvement you can fit on top of an existing process. Kanban’s focus on the flow of work and eliminating waste in your system can be good for work that is somewhat erratic in nature.

These two approaches are also not mutually exclusive and you can combine elements of both to find the right mix that maximizes the delivery of value and learning. Bringing in an experienced Agile coach can often help your organization find the right balance of practices and principles that align with your company values, support your team members, and help you reach your desired business goals.

Define the roles (and understand them)

Ideally, an Agile team should comprise all the necessary skills to deliver an idea from concept to cash, meaning it is in production and producing value. In smaller organizations, people may wear multiple hats and fill multiple roles, while larger organizations tend to be more siloed with entire departments dedicated to each skill set.

When building your Agile team, you need to find the right balance that works for your needs and work sustainably to create high-quality products at an appropriate speed to market. At Acklen Avenue, we’ve spent years finding just the right team structure that works for our clients, which includes:

  • Developers
    Writes a well-designed, elegant, scalable, and maintainable codebase that helps reduce maintenance and disruption costs for users.
  • Testers
    Manages different functional and non-functional testing techniques and automated tests to ensure high product quality, reduce maintenance costs, and prevent bugs with software before the product launch.
  • Designers
    Designs software and platforms to help give clarity of vision to developers while providing a simple, intuitive, and gratifying customer experience meeting their needs and users’ expectations.
  • DevOps
    Responsible for the availability, scalability, and health of systems. Their primary value being: Greater velocity for the developers’ velocity and an ideal environment for your needs.
  • Scrum Masters
    Coaches enable product delivery teams to work efficiently and effectively by optimizing time and resources via agile practices.
  • Product Owners
    Provides high-quality communication, enhancing efficiency for engagement managers and developers.
  • Agile Delivery Managers
    Acts as the voice of the client. They’re leading facilitators of the relationship between development teams and the product owner on the client-side. They provide technical expertise in project management with robust communication and a complete understanding of the business goals and vision.

Hire the right people

Be thorough. It is best when a hiring process is in place. This will allow you to maintain a standard all applicants can be reviewed upon.

Take, for example, our hiring process for developers:

  • When a developer applies, they fill out an application form to share their position of interest, location, availability, salary expectations, referral, and references.
  • They have an initial conversation meeting where they answer previously set questions related to their overall experience as a developer. During this conversation, we explain the company and required tools, English skills, and communication skills. Suppose the interview goes well, then the interviewer explains the next step: a Pair Session (a tech interview with one of our developers).
  • During the Pair session, technical skills are evaluated with the required technologies for the position.
  • If the Pair Session is successful, a team Interview will be scheduled. It is the third most crucial part of our hiring process. Three to five team members from different roles participate in this interview.
  • Suppose the applicant was scored high enough by the hiring team. In that case, the manager of the area the job opening belongs to will review the Pair Session and team interview recordings to determine if the applicant is a good fit.
  • General Acceptance is an essential part of our hiring process. Before the Manager makes an offer to the applicant, they must ask the entire company if there are any objections to hiring the applicant. If there are existing objections, it’s the Managers job to evaluate these objections.

Get everyone on the same page

From values to ideals to practices. After hiring all these developers, you need to find a way to keep them doing things correctly. Whether it’s their work ethic, cultural values, the company policies, and the best practices, everyone has to be on the same page.

Take, for instance, our Onboarding Training process. We introduce new employees to our community, our core values, mission, and tools before other tasks are assigned.

With this training, we help our new employees feel more comfortable within their new roles, teams, and departments while also making them aware of company expectations and policies. During this process, they have the opportunity to ask questions or address any concerns. We intend to help them feel more comfortable as a new member of our family.

Our Onboarding training is divided into two sections:

  • Part A: Learning about the company culture, and since we are a fully remote company, they also learn about using the best tools and practices to work successfully remotely. This section includes client expectations, mission, values, and team meetings.
  • Part B: Any additional information about the way the company operates. Everyone should remember the tools we use, ethical standards, and policies. Using the Badgr platform as their main Onboarding Training Pathway allows them to keep track of their percentage completion status.

Meeting with immediate supervisors and some task evaluators allows the new employees to know them directly and ask questions about their responsibilities.

Once the new employee has completed this training, they’re awarded the Boarding Pass Badges. These badges certify that the individual has completed the Onboarding training and has the green light to start their new journey in Acklen Avenue. In addition, they can begin their Career Path, a series of professional levels where they have the opportunity to show their abilities and skills and challenge themselves to level up.

Fire the wrong people

If you are looking to assemble a team, don’t keep the guy without a team mentality who can’t work with others or has a fixed mindset. Even if he has insane skills, those can be taught and learned; personality cannot.

Hire again to fill that spot

Go through your hiring process again and review applicants thoroughly. One piece of advice: check your previous hiring process and look for any flaws or areas of improvement. Doing this ensures that you’re not making the same mistakes and hiring the right people for the roles.

Get the new person on the same page as the team

Remember that it is and will always be necessary for your new hires and even your current team members to know, understand, and practice your company’s values, ideals, and practices.

Be patient. It can take years to build a productive Agile software development team of experts. However, if you’d rather focus on your business model instead or just don’t have the time to do all that work, you can hire Acklen Avenue. We have complete agile teams ready to start on your project within weeks, not months or years.