Agile Teams: Definition, Responsibilities and Structures

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 24 October 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Agile teams consist of members with different specialities who contribute to creating a product. These teams divide projects into smaller tasks to speed the process and produce high-quality results. Understanding what an Agile team is can help you create effective teams that produce high-quality products that improve customer retention. In this article, we define an Agile team, outline their responsibilities, explain the differences between them and Scrum teams, provide steps for creating an Agile team and highlight their benefits.

What are Agile teams?

Agile teams are cross-functional teams made up of five to 11 members. They work to develop, test and deliver solutions or products in a short period. Each team member has a different speciality or talent and fulfils various tasks to achieve the desired outcome. Agile enterprises prefer to work in smaller teams to maintain effective communication. These teams work through collaboration, whereby team members train each other and gain new skills while maintaining their core areas of expertise. These teams are non-hierarchical.

Every member receives autonomy to organise themselves and work independently. They work on Agile projects, which involve using an iterative approach to completing projects. The teams subdivide projects into smaller, more manageable tasks and complete them in intervals, leading to faster delivery. The continuous nature of these projects involves communicating regularly with clients to ensure the product meets their specifications and to make necessary adjustments. These teams consist of individuals from departments such as:

  • compliance

  • information technology (IT)

  • marketing

  • operations

  • sales

  • security

  • training

Related: FAQ: What Is Agile Modelling in Software Development?

Agile team roles

An Agile team consists of members with different talents, but some key members ensure the projects run smoothly and on schedule. Understanding the various roles can help you determine the structure of your Agile team. These roles include the following:

Product owner

Product owners define the product and ensure it aligns with the client's requirements. They also provide details on the product specifications. During meetings, they act as the customer and answer the team's questions to give them direction. They make most decisions and prioritise tasks.

Related: How to Write an Effective Product Owner Resume (With Sample)

Scrum or team lead

The scrum leader or facilitator coaches the team through self-management and facilitates its needs by removing any hindrances to ensure project progression. They also promote a high-performance work environment by encouraging teams to complete their tasks. Other responsibilities include scheduling and moderating all team meetings and events and tracking progress to ensure the teams complete tasks by deadlines.

Related: 6 Popular Agile Certifications (Including Benefits)

Team members

Team members consist of designers, testers and programmers who perform specific tasks and deliver particular product components. They may include marketing specialists, programmers or developers, engineers or lawyers. Each member manages themselves and ensures they deliver their assignments on time.

Third parties

Third parties don't contribute directly to the project but help determine the final product. They communicate with team leads and offer input where they can, which influences the end result. Third-party members include company executives, end users and investors.

Related: What Is Agile Leadership? (With Key Techniques and Benefits)

Agile team responsibilities

Specific Agile teams have unique responsibilities, but all teams have general responsibilities, such as:

  • working with product owners to define the product's acceptance criteria

  • creating iteration plans and schedules and developing project objectives

  • estimating the complexity and magnitude of the project

  • researching the product design and prototype within the project guidelines

  • asking for feedback

  • implementing and integrating feedback and changes into the project in cycles

  • developing the product

  • testing the product

  • deploying the product to staging and development processes

  • creating automation processes to deliver a continuous delivery pipeline

  • reviewing and improving the team's process

Types of Agile teams

Review the following types of Agile teams:

  • Complicated sub-system teams: These teams consist of specialists with particular skills needed for a product or solution. They often work on the more complex aspects of a project that overwhelm other team members.

  • Stream-aligned teams: They deliver continuous results to support a project. These teams are a subset of larger teams focusing on specific parts of production.

  • Enabling teams: They familiarise other team members with specific systems or components in the project. Once they complete this task, companies decommission them to return to their daily tasks.

  • Platform teams: These teams support other teams by providing internal service to speed product delivery.

  • Parallel teams: Team members change tasks after each iteration or cycle. For instance, if the teams developed a product in the first iteration, they all switch to test the products in the next step.

Differences between Agile and Scrum teams

Scrum is a project management technique whereby teams produce results in cycles or sprints. The tasks are incremental, meaning that work builds on previous task results. Agile and Scrum both deliver products in short cycles, emphasise communication and collaboration and adapt project work based on feedback. The primary difference between Agile and Scrum is that Agile is a set of core principles that teams follow to complete projects, whereas Scrum is a method to implement and facilitate Agile projects. Other differences include:

  • Agile project management involves delivering results at the end of the project, while Scrum divides projects into smaller sprints and deliverables.

  • These teams are cross-functional, meaning members come from different departments or specialities, while Scrum teams include specific roles, such as scrum leaders and product owners.

  • In Scrum methodologies, teams usually have short meetings daily to keep track of tasks and maintain a backlog of work that needs completion. This doesn't occur with other Agile methodologies.

Related: 7 Scrum Master Certifications That Can Help You Succeed

How to create an Agile team

Here are the steps you can take to create an Agile team:

1. Establish project goals and objectives

Understanding the goals and desired outcomes of the project can help you identify suitable team members and create a schedule. Determine the departments essential to the project. For example, if the goal is to develop a new app for a company to help improve sales, then IT and marketing departments would be essential. It's also important to understand the customer's requirements and expectations to help design the product and ask relevant questions before assembling the team.

Related: How to Establish Team Roles and Responsibilities

2. Acquire team members

The team may consist of five to 11 people, depending on the scope and size of the project. Communicate with the department heads from every department essential to the project and ask them for employees with the skill sets you require for the project. You can also invite employees you've worked with on different projects who you know can manage the work.

Related: How to Build a Team in 12 Steps (Plus Purpose and Benefits)

3. Introduce and brief the members

Schedule an introduction session where all members can meet and discuss the project. Provide an outline of the meeting to ensure you discuss all essential project information. Include the project goals and objectives, deadline dates and client requirements in the meeting outline and set time for questions. Consider moderating a brainstorming session during the meeting to create a project plan and goal-tracking schedule.

4. Track progress

Once the project launches, team leaders and project owners take charge during the project, so your role is to provide minimal input and oversight. You can check in regularly to ensure the team is on track with its goals and find out if they have any questions or challenges. Gather information on the team's current progress and major concerns and take them to the client to receive clarification.

5. Have a post-project meeting

After the project ends and the customer feels satisfied, have a post-project meeting to discuss performance. Review the process and ask team members where they experienced challenges and what areas they feel need improvement. This helps in planning for the next project. Recognise each team member for their contributions to help build relationships for future projects.

Related: What Is Scope in Project Management and Why Is It Important?

Benefits of using an Agile team

These are the main benefits of using an Agile team:

Helps satisfy customers

Agile methodologies involve including the client throughout the design, test and development processes. This shows that teams value their input and opinions. It ensures that they receive products that meet their standards and requirements. All these factors enhance customer satisfaction and improve customer retention.

Enhances quality

These teams use an iterative approach to projects, which involves repeating a process in each cycle and improving it. This consistent repetition allows teams to make processes more efficient, leading to higher-quality products. During cycles, teams can identify minor problems before they escalate, allowing them to resolve them early, which increases the chances of a successful outcome. These teams usually adapt to unforeseen changes, so it's easier to update their plans and priorities according to these changes quickly and produce a high-quality product.

Improves communication

These teams emphasise effective communication and collaboration during the project. They usually hold daily meetings to ensure everyone is on task and understands the goals. This communication eliminates confusion and leads to more efficient and error-free project completion.

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