Developers in an agile team

by Kris Vunckx ©

You can ask yourself the question: “What’s the difference between programming the classic way or in an agile environment?”

My two cents? A classically schooled developer tries to know as much as possible about the development tool and tries to become experienced in his domain. But the functional and solution solving aspect is often of less importance. He develops what they ask him to do.

What a huge difference with an agile minded developer! Of course, he too has the responsibility of delivering a suitable solution for the customer. But besides that, he needs to think along with the business in order to deliver the best developed solution for their challenges. On top of that, he needs to be or become a T-shaped developer. That means that not only the development aspect is important, but in case there is a need, they should be able to help with testing too. Or even help the analyst or designers so that the missing of a certain profile does not become a bottleneck on the delivery of the solution.

But what’s most important, I think, is the motivational aspect of a developer. He should be really enthusiastic of working in an agile team. It’s better to exclude people who are not willing to learn how to work in an agile way within your team. They slow down the agile process and this can even result in a significant extra cost in delivering your solution. Be sure to have the right people on the team.

Of course, being motivated is not enough. They also need to understand the agile process that needs to be implemented. If it’s Kanban, they need to understand how Kanban works. If it’s about Scrum, they must know how Scrum works and more important, they must know their role and responsibilities. And accept them.

A first step towards agile working could be a training and even a certification. But there’s more to it than that. As a scrum master/coach, I suggest that you test your team members regularly on the knowledge that your team members have about the process. In many occasions I experienced that people randomly sit together in an agile team, but often don’t have the correct motivation. Or are missing information about their role and responsibilities. This concerns team members as well as product owners, and sometimes even scrum masters.

And last but not least, it’s not only the team members that should understand their role and responsibilities. An even bigger challenge occurs when management does not understand the way an agile project works. So, also the management team needs adequate training to implement the agile principles. This could solve a number of problems many management teams struggle with. Think of budget, evaluations, delivery of strong solutions, etc.

Let’s rock!

Kris