You love your agile product team, and the thought of losing the stability you’ve created sends you into a spiral of panic. In any business, the reality is that employees come and go and flow throughout the organization. Fortunately, there are ways you can prepare to deal with changes on your agile team, and even take advantage of them.
If you’ve ever been in a spot where it seems like the only constant is “change,” here are three things you can do to manage team fluctuations and prevent losing domain knowledge or development velocity.
1. Mentoring Programs
Mentoring programs ensure that new members of your team or organization have a point of contact that is dedicated to setting them and the entire team up for success. Develop and share expectations for the mentor and mentee to follow, such as:
- Devoting time to weekly meetings
- Following a training checklist of standard operating procedures
- Allowing teammate(s) to shadow (meetings, calls, and any other learning opportunities)
- Conducting code reviews
- Setting up pair programming sessions
- Giving timely and constructive feedback
But remember, not everyone is the right fit. Look for individuals that:
- Get joy out of teaching and empowering others
- Exemplify the values of your organization
- Consistently follow best practices
- Are responsive to questions and deadlines
- Are committed to quality
- Have time to devote to teammates
- WANT to mentor
Another key tool for equipping your team to make smooth transitions is documentation and shared resources. In your environment, this could include:
- Company or department background
- What do we do?
- Who do we serve?
- What are their pain points?
- How is our department/team providing critical value to the organization and our customers?
- Internal team members
- Application access
- Source control
- Server information
- Deployment process
- Recent Project Overview
- Tracking work items
- Communication Plan
Future Project Overview
- What are some future iterations or enhancements in the pipeline?
One challenge with documentation is that it so quickly becomes out of date. A great tip is to have the new person update it as they get on-boarded since they offer a fresh pair of eyes and perspective on the process as it stands today.
Each person on the team should have at least one other teammate that knows what they’re working on. If you find yourself calling upon the same person’s name every time you need something, that’s a sign you’ll have a transition issue. Here are some strategies you can employ to avoid silos of information:
- Lunch and Learns
- Job Shadowing
- Code Reviews
- Pair Programming
- Video recording processes
While it’s great to have teammates that we love and want to keep forever, it’s essential to have a process for managing change and absorbing new people, all the while maintaining high performance on your agile team. A truly agile product team can adapt well to change without sacrificing value or velocity.