The Specialist Challenge on Agile Teams

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.

When I first started managing projects it was normal that project managers would be responsible for multiple projects at the same time. Unless the project was especially large, it was expected that a project manager could simultaneously handle three or four separate initiatives at different stages of the project lifecycle. It was also common for team members on those projects to be assigned across multiple projects and to split their time between project and operational work.

That still happens to some extent, but fortunately organizations have recognized that having to continuously switch focus is an inefficient way of working, meaning it’s a much less common model today than it used to be. Agile goes one stage further, not only encouraging people to be assigned to one agile team 100% of their time, but also suggesting that those teams should be stable from one initiative to the next. There’s a lot to be said for this approach as it encourages heightened productivity with individuals becoming more comfortable working together. While there are limits to that, there’s no doubt that stable teams improve performance.

This stable team concept is made possible by another element of Agile—the idea that teams should be cross-functional. That is that multiple people on each team can do any given piece of work and that each person can perform multiple types…


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