How to Build an Agile Team that Gets Work Done

Updated on: 21 February 2024 | 8 min read
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A good team structure provides clarity to the work process and roles and responsibilities. Each team member has a clear idea of what the team is set to achieve and what he/she should do to reach the collective goals. In this context, are agile teams more effective in getting work done faster than traditional teams? Are they better structured and optimized to achieve success every time?

In this blog post, we will explain what an agile team is, how it differs from a traditional team, and the different types of agile team structures. We will also shed light on how to build an agile team that is aligned with your requirements.

What is An Agile Team?

An agile team is a cross-functional group of people who work together to deliver value to customers in an iterative and incremental way. Agile teams are self-organizing, meaning they decide how to best accomplish their tasks without being micromanaged by managers or leaders. Agile teams are empowered - they have the authority and autonomy to make decisions that affect their work. These teams are guided by a common vision, values and principles that align with the agile methodology they follow.

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Traditional Vs. Agile: Differences in Team Structure

AspectTraditional TeamsAgile Teams
Organizational StructureHierarchicalFlat or Matrix
Roles & ResponsibilitiesSpecific roles and responsibilities for each individualIndividuals may perform multiple roles and responsibilities
CommunicationTypically slow and often follows a top-down approachFast and effective, encourages cross-department collaboration
CollaborationOften limited within silos, leading to bottlenecksEncourages collaboration across the organization
FlexibilityRigid and resistant to changeFlexible and responsive to change
PlanningFollows a predefined plan that’s difficult to modifyFollows an adaptive plan that’s easily modified
AdvantagesStructure and clarity in rolesFlexibility and adaptability, quick response to change
DisadvantagesSlow communication, lack of adaptabilityMay lack clarity in roles, potential for role confusion

Different Types of Agile Team Structures

Here is some more information about the different types of agile team structures:

Generalist
A generalist team structure is suitable for projects that are simple, low-risk, and have a short duration. The team members can easily switch roles and tasks, and respond to changing requirements and feedback. However, a generalist team structure may not be able to handle projects that are complex, high-risk, and have a long duration. The team members may lack the depth of knowledge and skill to deliver high-quality and innovative solutions.

Specialist
A specialist team structure is suitable for projects that are complex, high-risk, and have a long duration. The team members can leverage their expertise and experience to deliver high-quality and innovative solutions. However, a specialist team structure may not be able to handle projects that are simple, low-risk, and have a short duration. The team members may face dependencies and bottlenecks, and have difficulty collaborating and communicating with each other.

Hybrid
A hybrid team structure is suitable for projects that are moderate in complexity, risk, and duration. The team members can balance the breadth and depth of their skills and knowledge, and work together effectively. However, a hybrid team structure may require more training and coaching to ensure that the team members have the necessary cross-functional skills and competencies.

Parallel
A parallel team structure is suitable for projects that are uncertain, ambiguous, and have a high potential for learning. The teams can experiment with different approaches and methods, and learn from each other’s successes and failures. However, a parallel team structure may require more coordination and alignment to ensure that the teams are working towards the same vision and goal.

Sub-team
A sub-team structure is suitable for projects that are large, complex, and have multiple stakeholders and dependencies. The sub-teams can focus on their own scope and responsibility, and deliver value to their customer. However, a sub-team structure may require more communication and integration to ensure that the sub-teams are working in harmony and synergy.

Key Roles and Responsibilities in Agile Team Structures

Different types of agile team structures have different roles and responsibilities. However, there are some common roles and responsibilities that apply to any agile team structure. These are:

Customer
The customer is the person or group who pays for the product or service, and who benefits from its value. The customer defines the needs and expectations of the product or service, and provides feedback and validation throughout the development process. The customer can be internal (such as a business unit or a department) or external (such as an end-user or a client).

Stakeholder
The stakeholder is the person or group who has an interest or influence in the product or service, and who can affect or be affected by its outcome. The stakeholder can be internal (such as a senior manager or a sponsor) or external (such as a regulator or a partner). The stakeholder provides input and support to the product or service development, and evaluates its results and impacts.

Team Member
The team member is the person who performs the work to deliver the product or service. The team member can have multiple skills and roles, depending on the type of agile team structure. The team member collaborates with other team members and stakeholders, and follows the agile principles and values.

Team Leader
The team leader is the person who guides and supports the team to achieve its goals. The team leader can have different titles and functions, depending on the type of agile team structure. The team leader facilitates the team communication and collaboration, removes obstacles and impediments, resolves conflicts and issues, motivates and empowers the team, and ensures quality and performance.

How to Build an Agile Team Structure

Building an agile team structure is a continuous process that requires experimentation, adaptation and improvement. Here are some steps to help you build an agile team structure that works for you:

Define the Vision of Your Product or Service

What is the purpose and value of your product or service? Who are your customers and stakeholders? What are their needs and expectations? How will you measure your success?

Choose an Agile Methodology

What agile methodology best suits your product or service development? What are its benefits and challenges? How will you implement it in your organization?

  • Scrum: A framework that organizes work into short, iterative cycles called sprints, with a cross-functional team and a product owner who defines the priorities and requirements.
  • Kanban: A method that visualizes the workflow using a board with columns that represent different stages of the process, and cards that represent tasks or features. The goal is to limit the work in progress and optimize the flow of value.
  • Extreme Programming (XP): A practice that focuses on delivering high-quality software through frequent releases, continuous testing, pair programming, code reviews and adherence to coding standards.
  • Lean: A philosophy that aims to eliminate waste, maximize customer value and empower the team to make decisions. Lean principles can be applied to any agile methodology to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

Select the Agile Team Structure

What type of agile team structure best fits your product or service complexity, size and nature? How many teams do you need? How will you divide the work among them? How will they communicate and coordinate with each other?

Assign Roles and Responsibilities

Who will perform each role and responsibility in your agile team structure? What are their skills and competencies? How will you train and coach them? How will you evaluate their performance?

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Establish Agile Practices and Processes

What agile practices and processes will you use to manage your workflow, such as planning, prioritizing, executing, reviewing, testing, releasing, etc.? How will you track and monitor your progress, such as using metrics, dashboards, reports, etc.? How will you collect and incorporate feedback, such as using surveys, interviews, reviews, etc.?

Review and Improve Your Agile Team Structure

How will you assess the effectiveness of your agile team structure? What are the strengths and weaknesses of your teams? What are the opportunities and threats for your product or service? How will you learn from your failures and successes? How will you make changes and improvements to your agile team structure?

How Creately Helps Manage Agile Teams

Creately can help you manage your agile teams in many ways, such as:

  • Creating visual representations of your product or service vision, such as using mind maps, story maps, customer journey maps, etc.
  • Designing your agile methodology and team structure, such as using flowcharts, org charts, matrices, etc.
  • Planning and prioritizing your work items, such as using kanban boards, scrum boards, backlog lists, etc.
  • Executing and reviewing your work items, such as using wireframes, mockups, prototypes, etc.
  • Testing and releasing your work items, such as using bug reports, test cases, release notes, etc.
  • Collecting and incorporating feedback from customers and stakeholders, such as using surveys, forms, polls, etc.
  • Tracking and monitoring your progress and performance, such as using metrics charts.

Join over thousands of organizations that use Creately to brainstorm, plan, analyze, and execute their projects successfully.

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Author

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Hansani Bandara Content Specialist

Hansani has a background in journalism and marketing communications. She loves reading and writing about tech innovations. She enjoys writing poetry, travelling and photography.

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