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Building Strong Teams with Good Communication

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When no communication problems exist, teams can perform 50 times better than the industry average. To ease communication, agile methodologies rely on frequent inspect-and-adapt cycles. These cycles can range from every few minutes with pair programming, to every few hours with continuous integration, to every day with a daily meeting. However increasing the communication isn’t enough to eliminate all communication problems, as staff needs to also respect one another, be truthful, commit to the project goals and be transparent. However, it is difficult to find a team that fulfils all the principles needed for positive communication, as past negative experiences can reduce staff’s truth, transparency and trust, preventing from honest communication.

Delivering working software

All of the agile methodologies that are represented in the Agile Manifesto aim to deliver small pieces of working software to the customer at set intervals. All agile teams must establish what they mean when they say “working software”. At a high level, a piece of functionality is complete only when its features pass all tests and can be operated by an end user. Although more testing is recommended, teams must go beyond the unit test level and test at the system level. To speed up the rate that the team produce software, the team should:

Outline acceptance tests when defining features.

Implement features in priority order.

Run acceptance tests on each feature as soon as they are implemented.

Fix bugs that are the highest priority as soon as possible.

Customer collaboration

Successful projects are usually smaller projects which contain more frequent deliveries, which allow customers to provide feedback on working software at regular intervals. Getting the customer involved in the software development process is essential to success. For example, the first scrum team had thousands of customers. It was not feasible to involve them all in product development, so they selected a product owner. The product owner represented all the customers in the field and also management, sales, support, client services, and other stakeholders. The product owner was responsible for updating the list of requirements regularly as the team released working software. Customers actively helped shape the software that was being created.

Responding to change

For teams to create products that will please customers and provide business value, teams must respond to change effectively. Most project requirements change during a project, as customers are often unhappy because what they find is not exactly what they wanted. This is because; customers never know what they want until they see working software. If customers do not see working software until the end of a project, it is too late to implement their feedback. Agile methodologies seek customer feedback throughout the project so that teams can provide feedback and new information as the product is being developed.

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