As a consultant, I get the privilege of working with a large number of organizations. Some organizations are world-class software development powerhouses and others are just getting their feet wet. No matter their size, their technology, or their market, they all have at least one common interest: to gain a competitive advantage.
They might not always word it the same way from company to company, but it’s what they want. They want to build a better product than their competitor or they want to improve the efficiency of their own operations and they’re demanding quality, consistent product from their development teams.
The best development teams out there are cultivating a work environment based on the principles of leadership, teamwork, and trust. They’re capable of shipping high-quality software on a consistent, reliable basis for an extended period of time with maximum flexibility. This is great because the organization can have more trust in their planning activities. The team is keeping the cost of maintenance low because they’re managing quality and enforcing good standards. It always focuses on self-improvement in the name of efficiency or sanity.
Using some of the best agile teams in the business as a measuring tape, I’d like to offer five predictions I have for the future of agile and teams:
1. Agile pods will prevail
The best teams are cross-functional and autonomous. We will soon see the majority of agile teams working in “pod” structures—self-organizing, autonomous teams who are equipped with all of the talent and skills required to deliver a product. This works because multiple competing perspectives tend to push the team in the best overall direction.
Think: “Entrepreneurial in spirit. Professional in attitude.”
Agile Connection has a good summary of agile pods:
Agile pods are small custom agile teams, ranging from four to eight members, responsible for a single task, requirement, or part of the backlog. This organizational system is a step toward realizing the maximum potential of agile teams by involving members of different expertise and specialization, giving complete ownership and freedom, and expecting the best quality output.
These teams help their organization by producing a product for less cost over the long term.
2. Team maturity will grow
Team member consistency will allow teams to mature their processes over time, leading to less waste and more business value.
We will also see more of the elite software development folks move into agency work. Agencies will be able to sell their clients a “solution team” that’s established and capable of delivering a high-quality product for a lower price than what you can build in-house.
Mature teams grow into productive and predictable mini-companies with strong personalities given the right blend of leadership, skill, autonomy, and drive.
3. Integrated toolsets — requirements to release
Integrated tools will offer teams unprecedented visibility into their work and their products. Productive teams leverage the integrations between products and use them to drive process improvement and evolution.
The quality of a team’s—and an individual’s—process correlates with product quality.
4. Expansion of agile beyond engineering
It’s hard to be an agile team inside of an organization that’s not agile at all.
Agile has already begun to spread to marketing teams – the Clearvision marketing team, for example, takes advantage of agile marketing – and this way of thinking will eventually transcend other areas of the business. Agile product management is another emerging hotspot for agile principles. It’s more agile to develop a product using the Lean Startup methodology, which is inherently agile, and so we can see how other areas of the business will begin to think in agile ways.
This will be a great thing for the development teams of the world because it’ll cut down on all of the projects that should have been cancelled before they even started.
5. Data-driven agile
Integrated tools and mature processes will eventually collide with the age of big data. Now-niche methodologies like Team Software Process (TSP) and Personal Software Process (PSP) will get a second wind as they offer us a promise for insight into our work. Nobody likes the fact that agile comes with little objective evidence, but we’re willing to trade that for increased flexibility and throughput.
I believe that there is much to be gained in closing the gap left by this trade-off. We can have our data along with our flexible way of working that ties us to agile. Integrated toolsets, mature teams, and a desire to improve will push teams toward analytics — or advanced stats, if you will.
When somebody figures out how to marry big data analytics with the notoriously-difficult-to-measure agile methods, AI and data will become a core part of our decision making.
Companies who foster these kinds of teams will gain a competitive advantage.
Having worked with organizations across the globe, Clearvision’s expert consultants have helped countless businesses align their teams and tools with agile methodologies. From general advice around adopting a culture of best practice to complex configurations to ensure your tools meet your precise business requirements, our team can help. Simply get in touch today.