Cheetahs might be the fastest land animal, but new studies show that it isn’t their speed but extreme agility and maneuverability that is key to bringing down their prey. The situation is no different for many businesses out there.
Through the lifetime of a business, product teams often face situations in which they have to take action in a very short amount of time.
However, it is not so easy to overcome such situations when your product team is not synched on in such situations. Those situations require flexible working hours, people who are experienced in reacting to situations in an agile way.
For this reason, having an Agile Product Team is crucial for many SaaS businesses.
What is an Agile Product Team?
An Agile Product Team can be defined as a team that is co-located and dedicated to one and only Agile project across the project’s lifetime. Every person in a typical Agile team has to be cross-functional – meaning that if there is a need for other tasks, they should be able to handle the task.
However, this does not mean that Agile teams are made up of a small number of people; on the contrary, an Agile team must consist of every role that can be needed during product development.
How does an Agile Team Work?
Generally, the workflow of any Agile team has three steps at the very core. These steps are;
- Daily Standups. These are daily meetings that team members and managers discuss what has been accomplished yesterday, what is the goal of today, and any possible questions.
- Sprints. These are the short spans in which the product is designed, developed, reviewed, and released.
- Regular Feedbacks. These are the backbones of an Agile project. They are important for sustaining a fixed quality. These happen after a project is finished and before the product is released.
In order for these steps to take place, an Agile team has to be coordinated. Also, people in an Agile team have to know what they have to do at all times, but they have to keep in mind that the nature of Agile Product Management is flexible. This means that they should remember they have to take the initiative and surpass the expectations.
Benefits of a Solid Structure in Agile Product Teams
Although it initially might seem that Agile is just another way of product development, it has unique benefits that cannot be found in any other way of carrying out the product development process. Let’s see several of these perks.
1- Quality of Product
Since constant reviewing and giving feedback are some of the key elements of Agile teams, you will end up having the products of the best quality. Also, the customer is involved in the project management process, so their knowledge brings more quality to the final product.
2- Customer Satisfaction
Traditionally, when a project is about to be carried out, you think the customer is only involved in the project’s planning phase. Then, it remains a mystery for the customer until the end of the project. However, in Agile, the customer is more involved in a project development process than the conventional ways.
Provided that you have a solid structure in a project team, you can clearly reserve a place for the customer to see, advise, and revise the project on a regular basis.
This will result in a high amount of customer satisfaction.
3- Return on Investment Values Become Higher
The nature of Agile manifests that you should bring out the final product faster – and if you have to update the product, that update must also come as fast as it can be. This way you will not lose to the competition as well as you will serve the latest high-quality product more quickly. This can only be achieved by a team that operates like clockwork.
4- High Control over the Process
The purpose of the daily standups is to review the project on a regular basis. How far you accomplished and how well your team does can be discussed during these meetings. This way, you and your customers will be able to control the project easily. You won’t be feeling like you are left out, and things magically happen.
Thanks to the list above, you can see the potential benefits. Now, let’s put some real-life examples of Agile adoption amongst other companies.
For example, when people say Agile is one of the most used methods across the industries, it is not a lie. According to PMI’s Pulse of Profession in 2017, 71% of the companies have integrated Agile methods into their projects one way or another.
The same issue also puts forward that top companies, such as Michelin, started to integrate the Agile methodology – or a variant of it – into their projects. Microsoft, Apple, and Philips are the other examples of Agile adoption.
Knowledge Hut also carried out a study on Agile adoption and the reasons for Agile adoption. According to the blog post, the primary reason why companies are switching to Agile is to reduce costs.
Again, the same blog post also claims that the companies that have more than 20,000 employees are more likely to use Agile for more than five years, while the companies that have less than 1,000 people are correlated to the higher percentage of all the teams using Agile methodology.,
Finally, in an interview done by Economic Times, Rajesh Gopinathan said that more than 85% of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) revenue comes from the Agile projects they carry out.
So, when you adopt Agile and create a good structure, you will ensure that you will be at the top of the industry with the giants. They have proven that Agile is one of the most reassuring types of project management.
Building Blocks of Successful Product Teams: Sub-teams and Common Roles
As said before, Agile is one of the methods that have been used widely by different industries; thus, you can clearly see that there are some common roles in every sub-team. These roles can be enumerated based on how large your company is. However, regardless of your company size, you will see the following roles.
The first role you encounter is the team lead. It is also called Scrum master if you are utilizing the Scrum method. The main aim of a team lead is to facilitate the team. A team leader has to find the necessary resources for the team, protect the team from office politics – or you might call it “office drama” – and enable the team to do a great job.
These responsibilities return in a team that is following the principles of Agile methodology and sticks to the processes and practices the team has agreed on in the beginning. This role might not need lots of technical knowledge; only the basics would suffice.
The second role is the team member. It is quite a straightforward role. These people are the ones who carry out the project, essentially. They are a number of experts who do the job.
Another role is the product owner. These people represent the stakeholders or clients in an Agile team. Their main goal is to provide information and prescriptions in a timely manner.
The final role is optional, but there are multiple Agile teams that have this role – this role is the tester. They test the final product and give insights into the product from the perspective of a simple user.
To be able to create a solid team structure, you have to gather these roles together. Also, they have to be people of high expertise. If you either have missing roles or people without the necessary knowledge, your project and team will almost certainly fail.
5 Different Product Team Structures
With all the roles, you can create different combinations. There are 5 types of team structures in Agile methodology. You have to choose one of them according to your needs and aims.
1- Generalist Team
The generalist team structure is made up of a number of people who have a general understanding of the concepts discussed in your industry. Typically, they do not obtain a huge knowledge of the technical details – in other words, jack of all trades, master of none. Due to their versatility, these people can be switched easily.
Commonly, the generalist structure is used by small companies or the sales department. Since the professionals in this group have a general understanding of the topics, they can carry out the sales quite well.
2- Specialist Team
Just by reading the name, you can say that this is the opposite of generalist team structure. This team is made up of experts who are focused on a specific task. Their roles are predefined, and they can solve complex problems during the product management process. These people are precious and directly affect the quality of the product.
This team structure is generally used when you have a large team with every specialist for every area imaginable. Thus, you would not worry about a task being done or not.
3- Hybrid Team
You can understand that this structure contains both generalists and specialists. There are specialists who carry out the special tasks that are assigned to them and generalists who carry out the communication processes between the specialists and tie the jobs together. The flexibility and practicalness this structure offers is the manifestation of Agile.
This agile team can benefit from bits of knowledge of both generalists and specialists at the same time. This will result in improved teamwork, a great sense of ownership, and high quality.
4- Parallel Team
In a parallel team structure, you will have highly experienced people in a team who have constantly changing tasks. To exemplify, let’s say that a set of people are working on the designing process of the product; in the next sprint, they will be the testers of the product.
If you give excessive training to the people in your team or your team is made up of high-level professionals who don’t mind swapping tasks every so often, you can create this type of structure. Otherwise, it would be hard to accomplish to get this structure.
The final team structure type is the sub-team. If you have a large project, you will definitely benefit from the sub-team. These teams are put together in order to break down projects into smaller chunks. This way, you can enhance the visibility and accountability of the tasks done in the project.
Now, you know the technical details and the aims of having an Agile team. The facts we listed above prove that Agile is one of the most beneficial ways of product management.
However, you should always remind yourself that Agile shapes with the aims and pursuits you have as a company. You have to know the skill set of the people who are working for you, you have to understand your limitations, and you have to understand your strengths. After all these, you can switch to Agile structures.
That’s why you can consider other options such as Kanban or Scrum.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you create a product team?
In Agile Frameworks, you create your product team by filling the necessary roles. These roles are team lead, team members, product owner, and optionally tester. After filling these roles, you will have created the product team.
What team structures are considered for the product development team?
According to your needs, you can choose one of the five types of Agile team structures. However, it is generally best to either use Hybrid or Specialist team structures – so as to get the best results in a shorter time span.
What are the 5 stages of product development?
First, you generate an idea that might work. The second stage is to screen the market to know the estimated number of potential customers. Then, you develop a concept for the product you create. After that, it is product development. The final stage is to commercialize the product.