The Emergence of Permanent Teams Changes Things

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-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.

Almost 20 years ago, software development was at the forefront of what we now think of as agile project delivery. Today, software development is at the leading edge of a shift away from projects and towards products. As DevOps integrates with agile development, software development is moving closer to the ideal of continuous delivery. As a result, the concept of bundling work into projects is becoming less of a given. Instead, teams can be organized into products and become more or less "permanent," delivering sprints every two weeks without a planned end-date to the delivery stream. Functionality is then delivered to production environments either at the end of every sprint or potentially at regular intervals during the sprint as functionality is signed off.

Clearly, this model doesn’t work for every project and every environment, but that’s how agile started—as a niche approach to a subset of projects. Over time the idea of continuous delivery is likely to become more widespread (though never as broadly as agile), and more teams will become permanent product teams instead of temporary project teams. Those teams will continue to deliver work using agile principles, but there will need to be some adjustments.

The use of the backlog

The product backlog has always been a critical part of agile delivery. Ensuring there is always a steady supply…

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