Surprise Surprise: Benefits of Cross-Functional Teams

Written by , in category Agile & Scrum

23 March 2016


Backlog Refinement session. 


Our Product Owner came up with new stories to be estimated. 14 to be precise. 
It required some preparation however.  We have 2 teams, and they do the Backlog Refinement together. 
Around 20 people in one room, partly offshore, estimating together is quite a challenge!

Meeting Progress

The meeting was slowly progressing and at the same time the activity was draining the team. 
Of course, there is a learning curve in this way of meeting.  
It’ll bring us to other tools, other meeting protocols etc.  That’s how you control chaos: through trial & error, until we hit the sweet spot. 

So we have to do better.  Also the ROI was not thát high:  7 stories estimated in hours of time is something we should improve. 
As far as I could see:  

  • Voice quality was low.
    • We need to sit more closely to the phone.  Tables reshuffling?
    • We need to háve a proper phone line prior to that.  Duh!  Request is raised with the helpdesk.
  • Discipline when it comes to talking
    • We need to respect each other and LISTEN.
      “Listen” and “Silent” are words spelled with the same letters. That is no coincidence! 
      It takes team discipline.  
  • Competition
    • At some point I saw competition on estimates. 
      These are meant to start a conversation to clarify to each other, don’t have a competition in getting the lower or higher estimate, talk to each other and come to an agreement!

Surprise Surprise!

After some points of improvement, I do want to end this post with the positive.    And not a small improvement I saw happening! 

At some point in during the session some team members pointed out that testing would be very heavy for the story at hand. 
Other team members reacted spontaneously seeing the misconception that caused the heavy workload in testing that story. 

Instead of sitting in their department, isolated not to be influenced by developers as it used to work in previous projects, they got some inside info that allowed to conclude part of testing would not be needed because not in scope for this story, allowing them to get the story done within the iteration. 

These are the benefits of cross-functional teams. 
Having thát specific inside last minute info to minimize overhead and orient themselves towards that end-result: a happy customer. 

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