Come Together

Experiences of Software Development Squad Makeup

No man is an island. It takes a village. Quotes are littered through our culture in support of working together. Be it in our personal or professional lives, we achieve more when we collaborate with others.

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No longer can developers build software in isolation and ship to customers

Let’s Build a Home

Developers are the cornerstone of any Agile software development team. Without their coding skills, the products we built to support our clients would be but a distant dream. It is for that reason that Software Engineers and Scrum Masters have always been part of our squads.

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Developers working together in small increments did initially improve software delivery rates

Go Your Own Way

These experiences highlighted the need for an integrated Product Owner. Someone able to own the product direction. Many Agile frameworks, including Scrum, mandate that the Product Owner is always part of the squad. Yet in many organisations it proves to be difficult to sell the role. Despite practicing Scrum and Kanban for almost three years, it has only been this year that we have achieved the impossible dream of a truly dedicated Product Owner that gives true product direction.

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Dedicated Product Owners have the keys to drive value for their own benefit, which proxies do not

Misery Business

Business Analysts have been a recent addition to a couple of our squads. This might sound odd as there is great differing opinions as to the value of BAs in Agile practice. Historically they have worked in isolation as either an information wall. Or as a compromising Product Owner Proxy in some of our later trials. This delegate approach proved fruitless for one crucial reason. They don’t necessarily care about the features being built. This is not intended to criticise their work. It is simply acknowledging how challenging it is to give accurate indications of priority, or answer process related questions when you have no vested interest in using the product itself.

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We’ve found that BAs can change their focus from writing endless requirements documents to writing user stories and acceptance criteria at the direction of the PO

No Control

One group that proves to be elusive to integration is our Quality Assurance arm. While some squads have better success integrating dedicated testers, our model of automated testers and user testing means this is not required. QA for us is more around supporting of the products we build, and integration of tooling for diagnostics.

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If QA colleagues are constantly working to stop a flood on legacy applications, they will struggle to support developers in the build out of scalable, supportable applications

A Change is Gonna Come

Reflecting on our journey this far, the integrations achieved are reaping great benefits. Developers now receive feedback and clarifications on features more rapidly than before. Clients better understand the value they receive, and are empowered to prioritise the features they need, as well as understanding the reason for any hygiene the team performs.

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Our successes are simply the start of our journey to integrate all required agents into all of our squads

Lead software engineer with a strong interest in Agile, UX and Usability. Lover of cooking, tea, photography and gin!

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