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Quality in a team delivery – embrace the ecosystem - Quality

Quality, the third of seven aspects you need to address to make agile teams efficient, coordinated, and happy. This step lets you in on how to stimulate and secure good quality within the team.

The success of an agile team depends on how the inner ecosystem within the team as well as the outer ecosystem cross teams are managed. Cooperation with employees, customers, and product partners need to be considered. This has been discussed in my previous blog post, “Quality in team delivery – embrace the ecosystem”.

Well functioning teams need to have well established cultural and organisational principles. If you use “One ecosystem – People first” as a guiding start, many things will come naturally.

The agile team activities can be divided into seven steps:

  • Sourcing
  • Establishment
  • Quality
  • Cooperation
  • Deliver more than the team
  • Skill transfer
  • Completion


Here I will address the third step, Quality, and I will discuss it from a suppliers point of view.

Agile methods for team deliveries

Even though a team is an autonomous part of the organisation the team is always dependent, in one way or another, on the larger scope of the organisation where the team exists. To cope with the boundaries and dependencies within the surrounding organisation, methods like SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) have become popular.

These methods are used to be able to work in an agile manner, both within and between teams as well as in relation to other parts of the organisation. 

Agile methods for team deliveries have been used for a long time and are nowadays considered as the most efficient way to run teams. These methods are familiar for most people (at least within the IT industry) and will not be discussed further here.

You know that the method is well implemented in your organisation when the agile team has short lead times and all unnecessary work is removed.

Still there are quality issues to consider even if your agile methods are fully implemented and well working.

4 quality issues to consider

1. Product approach

A product approach is a mindset where team members pursue a product principle. i.e. they develop, deliver, maintain, and support a shiny product they are proud of, throughout the products life cycle.

With a product mindset, marketing, and service of your product are important and this in turn usually drives engagement and quality. 


2. Place of work – remote vs onsite

Before COVID-19 the common view was that agile teams need to work closely together in the same space to be able to be fast and agile. During the COVID-19 pandemia, where almost everyone is working from home, we have learned that it is possible to work remotely and still be true to agile methods (and maybe even improve efficiency as we can avoid unnecessary meetings or “ad hoc” corridor discussions).

We can use this experience to gain more efficiency through more personalisation for team members.

Consider what activities that are best performed when the team is at the same place, e.g. be workshops, sprint planning or demos where you need everyone to participate actively. Other activities can very well be done remotely with daily remote stand-up meetings.

Also consider the personality of each team member, some perform at their best in an on-premise team and others in a remote home office. Let every team member be a part of planning the most efficient way for him/her to perform.


3. Ensure team competence

Team and individual competence should be considered over time. You need someone to take responsibility for the team competence, we call it a delivery manager. 

The delivery manager is responsible for, facilitates and ensure that the team's competencies are in line with the customer's needs and follow the changes in the needs that are made over time. It may involve training as well as new certifications.

At the same time, it is ensured that the right expertise in methods and processes are found in the team, for example, that everyone has the right level of expertise about SAFe to match other activities within the entire ecosystem.

It can also mean that staff are replaced or added to meet a changing need or add new thinking. Such changes are made in collaboration with the customer to take into account the entire competence of the ecosystem.

Individual competence development in the resource team is done in consultation between the delivery manager, the current consultant manager, and the customer to maximise the benefit for all parties.

The resource team's joint competence development is done through group efforts for competencies that are central to all employees. This may involve news and changes in the underlying platforms and support systems.


4. Continuous improvements

The resource team's development as a team is built through continuous improvements through a Plan-Do-Check-Act internal PDCA flow, which means that every sprint or iteration in the workflow goes through these steps. In the Check and Act stage, a joint evaluation is made within the group and improvement opportunities and measures are prepared before the next sprint or iteration.

This is an important part of the process where the resource team is given the opportunity to be innovative and think new.

Best possible results

All in all, this ensures that the team can deliver the best possible results today but also build and change both competence and working methods over time in order to constantly deliver improved results and quality in deliveries.

But always remember the principle of “One ecosystem" meaning that all participants in the ecosystem shall work towards the same goal and also the priority of “People first”.

A happy team member makes happy teams and ecosystems that deliver at its best.

Written by Henrik Gavelli