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PD Certification

Role of Cross Functional Teams in Agile Projects

Henrik Kniberg defines cross-functional team as : “Cross-functional just means that the team as a whole has all skills needed to build the product, and that each team member is willing to do more than just their own thing.”

The quality of the product is always improved by the cross-functional team because it can inspire ongoing improvements in product quality. Team members give their input throughout the product life cycle. With these inputs issues can be found at an early stage for resolution. This improves product quality which results in better customer satisfaction.

I believe that there is a need to make people cross functional, rather than searching for cross functional team members. In the agile way of developing projects, there could be many responsibilities that can be shared among team members.

The team work more cohesively in cross functional environment. Team feels more committed and accountable towards their work, when seniors give them responsibilities to grow them in cross functional way. I remember when I was working for a client and at the same time, I was acting as Business Analyst with scrum master role and doing the system testing for some bugs. It sounds bit weird to somebody but I improved my skills working in this way. So it’s better to make your team cross functional rather than searching few people who are “jack of all trades”.

Cross functional teams require less effort to finish the project in comparison to normal teams. E.g. A tester can write the technical design document after consulting with developer, while the developer is writing the code. Similarly a developer can execute the system test cases, once he finished his work related to the development.

Effective communication is a key for the success of cross functional teams. The cross-functional team optimizes the project timeline and therefore improves the quality of the product.

Problems in making team cross functional:

1. Sometimes people do not understand the agile, as required. Give some time to your teams to develop an agile environment within the company. Reading a book overnight will not make you agile. It is well said that “Rome was not built in a day, so is Agile cross functional teams”.

2. Agile roles:- Your designation and your role assigned at the time of appointment may sometimes stops you in becoming cross functional.

E.g. Designers unwilling to do anything but design, developers who do not want to do anything but just write code. Testers who insist on having formal test specifications and are unwilling to work closely with the other Team members to get an understanding of the system. During the Sprint, they hesitate to work with developers for writing the test automation code or for learning how to write the test code themselves. Business analysts unwilling to do any other thing than just write requirements. Even pushing the Team to the limits with its commitments, these members are not willing to do anything more than their job title requires.

Don’t stick to your guns while you are working in agile environment. Work more collaboratively, that will help in making your team cross functional.

Author: Manoj Kumar Sharma (All Rights Reserved by the author)
Source: Original Text (based upon first hand knowledge)

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