5 Predictions For the Future of Agile and Teams

5 Predictions For the Future of Agile and Teams

As a consultant, I have had the privilege of working with a large number of organisations; from world-class software development powerhouses, to startups just getting their feet wet. 

No matter the size, the technology, or the 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 to improve the efficiency of their own operations. Big or small, new or established – the organisations I’ve worked with demand quality and consistency from their development teams.

The best development teams in the world are capable of shipping high-quality software on a consistent, reliable basis, for an extended period of time – with maximum flexibility. How?

Because these organisations create a working environment based on the principles of leadership, teamwork and trust

The benefits of adopting these principles form deep roots within a company. Trust in their team means better engagement, motivation, satisfaction and higher productivity – but also leads to effective planning, and lower maintenance costs, because teams are self-managing and enforcing good standards. This approach always focuses on self-improvement in the name of efficiency (or sanity).

Using the best agile teams in the world as a benchmark, I’ve made five predictions on the future of agile and teams.

1 – Agile pods will dominate

The best teams in the world are cross-functional and autonomous. I predict that the majority of agile teams will be working in pod structures: self-organising, autonomous teams who are equipped with all of the talent and skills required to deliver a product.

This trend is emerging because multiple competing perspectives tend to push a team towards the best overall solution.

These teams are entrepreneurial in spirit, professional in attitude.

Agile Connection explains agile pods like this:

“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 organisational system is a step toward realising the maximum potential of agile teams by involving members of different expertise and specialisation, giving complete ownership and freedom, and expecting the best quality output.”

The benefits of small, autonomous teams are many – but they end with a product of impeccable quality, produced for a lower cost over the long term.

2 – Team maturity will grow – and so will agencies

I predict that more elite software developers will move into agency work.

Agencies want them, because they’ll be able to sell their clients a “solution team” – one that’s established and capable of delivering a high-quality product for a lower price than their client could build in-house.

Mature teams grow into productive and predictable “mini companies” – if empowered with the right blend of leadership, skill, autonomy, and drive. This is achieved with team member consistency and reduced attrition, positive side-effects of an equitable, trusted and engaged team.

3 – Integrated tools

Integrated tools – like those in the Atlassian stack – offer teams unprecedented visibility into their work and their products. The world’s best teams leverage the integrations between products, and use them to maximise efficiency.

4 – Agile teams will move into sectors beyond development

I predict that The principles of agile will spread far beyond engineering and development, into all areas of a business. Adopting the agile mindset in other departments will cut down on projects that should have been cancelled before they even started.

It’s hard to be an agile team working in an organisation that’s not agile. It’ll take some companies time to adjust. But some are taking the principles and applying them to in-house resources.

For example, agile has already begun to spread to marketing teams; the Clearvision marketing team practices agile marketing – giving the department autonomy and decision-making control over which projects to devote their efforts to. This way of thinking will eventually spread to other areas of the business; let the best team for the job decide how to meet the goal.

Product management is another emerging hotspot – using the Lean Startup methodology, which is an inherently agile way to develop a product.

5 – Data-driven agile

Integrated tools and mature processes will eventually collide with 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 soon, we’ll close the gap left by this trade-off; and we can have our data and our flexible way of working. Integrated tools, mature teams, and a desire to improve will push teams toward analytics and data-driven insights.

With big data, performance can be measured – but it takes machine learning to process all that data, and AI to give it context. 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. Moreover, we’ll have data-led proof that agile teams are (and always have been) the future of work.

Hire agile developers and contractors

Companies who foster agile teams will gain a competitive advantage: better products, made faster – for less. ClearHub helps the world’s best companies hire agile contractors that will transform the way they deliver projects.


Want to know more? Get in touch with the ClearHub team today – call +44 (0) 2381 157811 or send your message to info@clearhub.tech.

Using Jira and Confluence to create website content

Using Jira and Confluence to create website content

Did you think Confluence and Jira were just for web developers? Think again!

Any kind of collaborative project can benefit from the powerful scheduling, issue tracking and documentation features in Confluence and Jira. If your organisation is already using the Atlassian stack, then it’s time to get even more out of it.

Let’s show you how you can use Jira and Confluence to create the content for your website; better than you’ve ever been able to do it before.

1 – Set goals

First, you need to know what your content is for. You can’t just blindly make content for the sake of it and expect it to succeed. You have to define what success is, and work towards it.

Read more: How to set goals: think SMART

Each goal has to be specific and quantifiable – not a vague, unachievable ambition like “get more video views” or “make it better for SEO”. What does “more” or “better” mean?

Instead, try goals like “get 10,000 video views in 12 months” and “double our organic search traffic year on year”: tangible, specific targets. Then, you can start working out how to achieve them.

It takes multiple creative and strategic disciplines to make web content that works towards these goals – and setting, tracking and checking off goals with multiple teams can get tricky. But by using Confluence, you can clearly add goals as a reminder in the project overview – so everyone knows why they’re doing what they’re doing.

2 – Project planning

Now that you have goals, it’s time to roadmap them and determine your team’s workflow. The project lead should be able to set mini-goals that form part of the larger objective – using simple project planning tools like Atlassian’s Trello.

During the process, managers can identify bottlenecks or adjust goals in order to make them achievable, realistic or change their time constraints – but none of that will be possible without first having the plan written out in a collaborative workspace.

The roadmap should include regular check-ins to get progress updates and make notes. Integration with Confluence can make this roadmap (and all knowledge gained during the project) freely available to the relevant teams at the point of need.

3 – Assemble your team

Now you know what you need to achieve, and how you’re going to get there, you need to gather your team.

By creating a collaboration space in Confluence, your team can be assembled from anywhere in the world – so even outsourced work can be included in your central project management tool.

Read more: Looking for a Confluence contractor to help set you up?

Work can be delegated to the right team from here: SEOs and digital marketers can identify targets and popular content topics, while the copywriters start producing headlines and text in response to the research. Graphic designers, developers, videographers and photographers can be booked in or sourced for further assets that are vital to the project.

Now that we have the blueprint and the team, we can start building.

4 – Start building content to your architecture

Once drafted and sourced, all your web content assets can be assembled in a working “proto-website”, within Confluence. This means that your website structure, user journey and CTAs can all be built out, tested and progressed – without any additional burden on your dev team, or the need for a staging website in the early stages of development.

Confluence is very easy to use, similar to an all-in-one website building platform. It allows for easy version tracking, so testing and rolling back is super simple. Plus, migrating to the live site is greatly streamlined as Confluence can export HTML and XML files.

5 – Use Jira to make improvements after launch

Buggy interface? Typos? Pages loading slowly? Your team can create tickets in Jira, giving all issues a clear path to resolution. Issues with content itself can be flagged in Jira and tasked to the right person, while any dev improvements can be allocated to the development team and tracked to completion.

As your company progresses and the offering evolves, the user journey may become more obvious. Using Jira to highlight areas to improve the journey, and then writing and arranging the new structure in Confluence gives teams total flexibility and ownership of their successes – even after launch.

Get deeper control of Confluence and Jira

Need deeper control in Confluence and Jira, for software development and content creation? ClearHub specialises in finding the best Atlassian contractors, to develop custom Confluence and Jira DevOps solutions.

Want to know more? Get in touch with the ClearHub team today – call +44 (0) 2381 157811 or send your message to info@clearhub.tech.

Your business needs Confluence Cloud – find out why

Your business needs Confluence Cloud – find out why

A team only works well if everyone can collaborate and organise effectively. That’s why over 170,000 companies use Atlassian applications, like Confluence, to empower their teams with collaborative tools. In a hybrid and remote-first working world, businesses are seeing the true benefits of cloud computing and deploy-anywhere web applications like Confluence Cloud.

Shouldn’t your business be using it, too?

What is Confluence Cloud?

Confluence is one of Atlassian’s collaboration tools.

It’s a shared workspace and knowledge-base – sort of like a supercharged, company-focused Wikipedia on steroids – which enables teams to do their best work, with the entire organisation’s expertise at their disposal.

With Confluence, you can build documentation pages and powerful dashboards for data visualisation. Atlassian’s project management and scheduling tools (like Trello and Jira) seamlessly plug into Confluence – and your whole organisation’s community can see what’s going on at any time, in all relevant projects.

Confluence Cloud is web-based, with a mobile app available – allowing anyone in the team to work anywhere, with any device.

Pretty cool, huh?

Let’s take a deeper look at the benefits of Confluence Cloud.

ANY team can use it

Atlassian’s cloud solutions aren’t just for software developers. Any team can use Confluence Cloud to work smarter – and know exactly what’s going on in the whole company.

This is especially important in remote and hybrid working environments, where maintaining culture, collaboration and communications is a key factor.

Confluence prevents siloing and keeps all comms open and transparent, which leads to better collaboration and idea sharing.

Confluence is incredibly versatile. The marketing team can use it for planning and reporting, with intuitive dashboards to visualise data. HR can use it for announcements and onboarding – even legal departments will find it useful for storing, tracking, finding, and updating contracts and documents.

While apps like Google Docs and Sheets, LucidChart, DropBox and Slack are great tools for what they do, Confluence Cloud takes their concepts further – consolidating all company knowledge in one place, where everyone has access. It plugs in with industry standard tools and scheduling platforms, with deep integration into the Atlassian stack.

And because it’s cloud-based, anyone can use it anywhere. But how do you manage who can access what – and when?

Full control: security and access permissions

You’ll never have to worry about leaks, privacy or sensitive data being accessible. Confluence Cloud lets admins control who can see what, and even helps maintain the work/life balance of your teams. For large companies, Confluence Cloud Premium provides deep admin controls with custom access levels and executive permissions.

Performance is no longer hardware dependent

Different teams will have different hardware needs. Sales and marketing departments may need little more than a basic laptop and a phone – but the demanding software used by design and production teams will require heavy duty hardware to run.

Locally installed software has a few advantages on high-spec machines, but on the entry-level equipment most departments will have at their disposal, those advantages all but disappear. Adding another app to the mix is enough to clutter and bog down even fairly recent machines – and what if the hardware fails? What happens to all the work on it?

Moving to a robust cloud solution eliminates the need for anything but a browser, and ensures constant, infinite backups. This is hugely important now that work is moving between offices and remote locations.

For one, lost or stolen devices can be bricked remotely without losing any data or work. But for most, the biggest advantage will be having access to the same productivity tools on any kind of device, as long as it has internet access.

And there’s no need to worry about running out of space, either. Your team can use as much or as little as they need, and Confluence Cloud can scale appropriately to accommodate it based on your needs.

Get an expert to manage your Atlassian Cloud migration

Moving into Confluence Cloud? ClearHub specialises in finding the best Atlassian Cloud migration experts, to equip your business for hybrid and remote working – and the next stage of your growth.

Our talent pool features some of the world’s most admired Confluence Cloud professionals. Want to know more? Get in touch with the ClearHub team today – call +44 (0) 2381 157811 or send your message to info@clearhub.tech.

Your business needs Confluence Cloud – find out why

working on laptop

A team only works well if everyone can collaborate and organise effectively. That’s why over 170,000 companies use Atlassian applications, like Confluence, to empower their teams with collaborative tools. In a hybrid and remote-first working world, businesses are seeing the true benefits of cloud computing and deploy-anywhere web applications like Confluence Cloud.

Shouldn’t your business be using it, too?

What is Confluence Cloud?

Confluence is one of Atlassian’s collaboration tools.

It’s a shared workspace and knowledge-base – sort of like a supercharged, company-focused Wikipedia on steroids – which enables teams to do their best work, with the entire organisation’s expertise at their disposal.

With Confluence, you can build documentation pages and powerful dashboards for data visualisation. Atlassian’s project management and scheduling tools (like Trello and Jira) seamlessly plug into Confluence – and your whole organisation’s community can see what’s going on at any time, in all relevant projects.

Confluence Cloud is web-based, with a mobile app available – allowing anyone in the team to work anywhere, with any device.

Pretty cool, huh?

Let’s take a deeper look at the benefits of Confluence Cloud.

ANY team can use it

Atlassian’s cloud solutions aren’t just for software developers. Any team can use Confluence Cloud to work smarter – and know exactly what’s going on in the whole company.

This is especially important in remote and hybrid working environments, where maintaining culture, collaboration and communications is a key factor.

Confluence prevents siloing and keeps all comms open and transparent, which leads to better collaboration and idea sharing.

Confluence is incredibly versatile. The marketing team can use it for planning and reporting, with intuitive dashboards to visualise data. HR can use it for announcements and onboarding – even legal departments will find it useful for storing, tracking, finding, and updating contracts and documents.

While apps like Google Docs and Sheets, LucidChart, DropBox and Slack are great tools for what they do, Confluence Cloud takes their concepts further – consolidating all company knowledge in one place, where everyone has access. It plugs in with industry standard tools and scheduling platforms, with deep integration into the Atlassian stack.

And because it’s cloud-based, anyone can use it anywhere. But how do you manage who can access what – and when?

Full control: security and access permissions

You’ll never have to worry about leaks, privacy or sensitive data being accessible. Confluence Cloud lets admins control who can see what, and even helps maintain the work/life balance of your teams. For large companies, Confluence Cloud Premium provides deep admin controls with custom access levels and executive permissions.

Performance is no longer hardware dependent

Different teams will have different hardware needs. Sales and marketing departments may need little more than a basic laptop and a phone – but the demanding software used by design and production teams will require heavy duty hardware to run.

Locally installed software has a few advantages on high-spec machines, but on the entry-level equipment most departments will have at their disposal, those advantages all but disappear. Adding another app to the mix is enough to clutter and bog down even fairly recent machines – and what if the hardware fails? What happens to all the work on it?

Moving to a robust cloud solution eliminates the need for anything but a browser, and ensures constant, infinite backups. This is hugely important now that work is moving between offices and remote locations.

For one, lost or stolen devices can be bricked remotely without losing any data or work. But for most, the biggest advantage will be having access to the same productivity tools on any kind of device, as long as it has internet access.

And there’s no need to worry about running out of space, either. Your team can use as much or as little as they need, and Confluence Cloud can scale appropriately to accommodate it based on your needs.

Get an expert to manage your Atlassian Cloud migration

Moving into Confluence Cloud? ClearHub specialises in finding the best Atlassian Cloud migration experts, to equip your business for hybrid and remote working – and the next stage of your growth.

Our talent pool features some of the world’s most admired Confluence Cloud professionals. Want to know more? Get in touch with the ClearHub team today – call +44 (0) 2381 157811 or send your message to info@clearhub.tech.

Your guide to team development with contractors

Your guide to team development with contractors

All teams – established or brand new – go through changes. At times, contractors need to be brought in to fulfil a specific need with their skills. This can be a real boon to your teams, if it’s handled well and there are plenty of benefits to bringing in contractors besides hitting company objectives.

For instance, integrated, engaged contractors will impart their knowledge and experience on the rest of your team – and build an affinity with your company that could last their entire career. We see this happen often in the world of DevOps, and many of the seasoned Atlassian contractors in our roster have become long-standing partners with most of the firms they’ve worked at.

But there’s always a flipside. Internal teams can feel undermined if the contractor’s role isn’t explained properly, which can impact integration and ultimately, project success. With clear communication and establishing trust in your team, everyone can feel more empowered at each stage of the team’s development.

But what exactly do we mean by team development?

Your team development lifecycle

In 1965, Bruce Tuckman outlined a four-phase model of group development:

  1. Forming
  2. Storming
  3. Norming
  4. Performing

All teams go through these phases more than once. Even established teams in stage 4 of the team development process will enter the cycle again (albeit partially) when a new member joins the team – and that includes when a contractor is onboarded.

Let’s look at this process more closely.

  1. Forming

This is where everyone’s new – however experienced they are – to the task at hand. It’s a really exciting time, when everything’s fresh and interesting. But there can be a lack of direction, and as-of-yet unknown gaps in skills that need filling.

There’ll be lots of meetings, planning and questions; but the outcome should be a set of defined goals that set your team up for success.

Read more: How to set SMART goals

This is the phase where roles are established and clear goals are defined – to be refined later.

  1. Storming

This can be a painful phase – a stormy one, if you will. This is where your team learns that the goals aren’t as easy as they seemed at first, and that several factors have been underestimated.

This is when it’s time to take stock and reflect on the goals: and make things as simple as possible. Adjust the project goals and milestones, and make each incremental step to success smaller.

Gaps in skills can become very obvious at this point. Onboarding a contractor at this phase can help, as long as the team arrives at the decision and is included in the discussions. Done correctly, without stepping on anyone’s toes, this can also build morale; bringing in a contractor can boost confidence rather than diminish it.

Towards the end of this phase, things really start coming together. The pain was worth it – because it led to team growth, development and a better sense of the collective goal.

  1. Norming

As the name implies, this is where things start feeling “normal”. Everyone knows who’s responsible for what, where to go with any issues and how the process works.

The team has found its feet and productivity is high. There’s a sense of pride, and the quality and frequency of work is exceptional. These are the good times – long may they continue.

But if you take your eyes off the prize, and if you fail to monitor and check in with the team, then complacency can set in. Just because things are working now doesn’t mean they’re going to stay that way forever. With team growth and development, change is inevitable.

If goals are being met but not refreshed, a lack of direction or a sense of pointlessness can take hold. Engagement dips. Productivity falls. New hires are made to pick up the slack – but this is a dangerous scenario to onboard anyone into, not least a contractor.

Attrition is to be expected if this happens. So what can you do?

Listen diligently, but maintain distance. The team knows what they’re doing now, so check in regularly and give them what they need, when they need it – including upping capacity at peak times, or filling skill gaps by hiring contractors. Don’t spoil the vibe by micromanaging, but instead get feedback often. Keep your people engaged and keep them feeling refreshed – and you’ll maintain this flow into the fourth phase.

  1. Performing

This is it. You’re established, scaling up and performing at a sustainable level. Your team trusts each other and management fully, and successes are celebrated together.

It’s not the end of the lifecycle; because with every new member who joins the team, there’ll be a little bit of onboarding (forming), learning the ropes (storming) and getting into a flow (norming) – for everyone in the team.

This is the late stage of team development. It’s a long road to get here – but it’s well worth the journey.

Hire Atlassian contractors – and grow your team

ClearHub specialises in finding the best Atlassian contractors to fit with your business at every stage of growth. Our talent pool is full of the brightest and best Jira and Confluence DevOps professionals, who can add value to your team in so many different ways.

Want to know more? Get in touch with our friendly team today – call +44 (0) 2381 157811 or send your message to info@clearhub.tech.

Working remotely with contractors? Head to the Cloud

Working remotely with contractors? Head to the Cloud

If lockdowns and office closures over the course of the coronavirus proved anything, it was that working remotely is not only possible, it’s beneficial.

Productivity, work-life balance and employee satisfaction are all improved. Overheads, commuting costs and carbon emissions are cut. Inclusivity is vastly improved, with a far wider talent pool to choose from as a result.

Having the option of remote work keeps employees happy, and gives their employers better work. It’s a major win-win.

Some companies (and their workers) have worried about moving to remote working models. This can stem from a workplace culture that values interactive, live collaboration – or more commonly, it can be due to a lack of trust.

While some elements of collaborative working can translate to remote work, the trust issue is much deeper and harder to resolve. Some solutions include actively monitoring teams – but this is intrusive and creepy, signalling deep distrust of employees. That’s hugely damaging to engagement.

These are outlier cases, though – and most of the world managed to prove that remote working is one of the best ways of working, ever. In fact, many people base their decision to become contractors solely on the ability to work remotely and flexibly.

But there’s definitely a right way to do it, and Cloud solutions enable businesses and contractors to work together seamlessly, no matter where they are in the world.

How the Cloud is helping remote work (especially with contractors)

The Cloud was supposed to revolutionise the way we worked – and now, it looks like that time has come.

Cloud computing and storage solutions enable everyone in a team to collaborate, on a level playing field. With a private Cloud solution, even teams with slower internet connections and older hardware will have ultra-low latency access to powerful virtual workspaces.

This is a far cry from having to share large files over email, or relying on file transfer services. Solutions from Microsoft, Google – and now even an option to migrate to Atlassian Cloud – have streamlined collaborative workflows in a truly revolutionary way.

This is really helpful when working with contractors remotely. For a start, Cloud security is built-in. Access can be granted at a project or admin level, and with the backup and rollback features of Cloud solutions, nothing can ever really be lost – so companies can rest assured sharing their workspaces with contractors.

Cloud tools, including Atlassian Could solutions, are made for collaboration. Cloud computing and storage platforms can be upgraded to the latest hardware and software totally seamlessly – slashing IT costs. Cloud computing lets you automatically scale up whenever you need to, meaning your infrastructure can grow at the exact same rate as your business.

Remote working with contractors does pose some challenges – but, with video conferencing and good management, you can make every project run smoothly.

Onboarding

This is a vital step to working with contractors, remote or otherwise. Give them clear goals to work towards, and help them integrate into their team with icebreakers. These can be done over video conferencing apps, and in group chats on collaborative workspaces like Slack.

Read more: setting SMART goals for contractors

Make sure they have the access and permissions they require to do their work, and all the tools they need to do it, too. Make your contractor feel as welcome to the team as any new starter – and trust in their ability and expertise.

Check in regularly

Team development with contractors can seem tricky, but it follows the same principles. A core requirement for success is regular check-ins; not intrusive interrogations – but a quick “hello, how are you doing today?”.

Find and resolve issues before they become damaging to the project, with simple, understanding communication. Keep goals and milestones updated – but importantly, make sure your contractor feels as valued and listened to as any other part of the team.

Always give them feedback! Even negative feedback can be tactfully delivered to become a motivator. Engaging with contractors like this is a great way to maximise their potential.

Don’t snoop

If you’re thinking of using monitoring tools to snoop on progress, think again. Only 30% of workers are comfortable with being tracked – and that figure may be skewed by those simply agreeing to it to save their jobs.

While monitoring can have positive outcomes, it is overwhelmingly seen as a sign of distrust.

Trust that your contractor knows what to do, and build a rapport that reciprocates that trust – so that they’re comfortable and happy to raise issues with you as they arise.

Trust is a wider workplace culture issue. If it’s low, it can harm individuals, teams and whole businesses.

Getting it right won’t be a quick fix. But with the future firmly set in remote working in the Cloud, it’s one that will benefit every company adopting the remote model.

Hire Atlassian contractors – experienced remote workers

ClearHub finds Atlassian contractors that suit your business best. Our global network includes team players who are remote working specialists; highly aware and tuned to the intricacies of working remotely in the Cloud.

Want to know more? Get in touch with our friendly team today – call +44 (0) 2381 157811 or send your message to info@clearhub.tech.