Stop Making and Breaking Teams and Watch Enterprise Agility Flourish
How can you structure your large, in-house software developers to make agility flourish? Traditionally, software development is organized into short-term project teams that draw from a pool of specialized talent. Developers often work on multiple projects simultaneously. The problem? Project delays often create lags that ripple across multiple teams, creating inefficiencies and frustration. Moreover, jumping from project to project forces our brains to switch gears, meaning we work harder to function at a lower level. Research suggests 40-80% of productivity is lost in context switching.
In contrast, “product teams” are assembled for the long haul. Because teams focus on addressing business problems versus delivering a set of functions, they gain a broader perspective to understand requirements and deliver the desired results. They also suffer less from context switching, resulting in 60-80% gains in productivity. Perhaps more important: knowledge, collaboration and satisfaction grow within cohesive long-lived teams.
So how do projects get executed within multiple product teams? Typically, project requirements are divided into epics that go into the product backlog of relevant products. Product owners manage requirements while project managers oversee projects across product teams. In this way, the focus shifts to managing the work—not the people—creating self-empowered teams who foster agility across the enterprise.
- Understand the potential benefits of a product vs. project focus
- Demonstrate how multi-tasking saps productivity by engaging in an exercise
- Learn how knowledge, collaboration and satisfaction grow within stable, long-lived teams
- Apply design thinking to brainstorm how to transform teams into a product-based model
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Acknowledgements: Kimberly Whitby and Derrick May