Scrum Teams: Optimizing Performance

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting Inc., an Ontario, Canada-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

While agile approaches to project execution are certainly cool, they are only able to survive and thrive because they work--“cool” doesn’t pay the bills. Take a look at any number of studies and you will see that organizations that have successfully implemented an agile approach have noticed measurable improvements in the quality of products developed.

While there can be a number of reasons for this, there’s no doubt that a large part of the benefit comes down to the team--the group of cross-functional individuals who are responsible for executing the sprints that make up the Scrum approach. In this article I want to look at how we can optimize those teams, and ensure that the benefits are as great as they can be.

The concept
Let’s start at the beginning with the basic concept of the team in a Scrum approach. The team consists of a group of individuals who collectively own all of the deliverables of a sprint. Over time the team may evolve as different skills are required to complete the tasks within a sprint, but this is a gradual evolution. By definition therefore, the team members have to be from a number of different functional areas--they need to have enough skills to complete the tasks within a sprint.

If we think back to a traditional waterfall approach to project management, we know that building a team from different parts …

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