Teams Without Fuss

March 24, 2011 Mark Crowe

“Teams” Feature Discussion, Take 1…

(Fade in to training session, where a group of happy new VersionOne users are learning more about what their system can do for them.)

New customer: “Where do we define the people on the team?”

VersionOne Expert: “Well, you don’t have to.”

New customer: Odd pause while displaying a quizzical look. Followed by, “…What do you mean?”

The above scenario plays out every so often with our customer-facing product experts. How can you have an agile development team without administering who is on the team? It’s a natural enough question especially for those who spend more time than they’d like in a world of administrivia (“any time at all” is often sufficient to place one into that category).

When designing the Teams feature, we made a conscious effort to minimize the amount of administration needed. What helps in understanding it is a slight change in the mental model.

When you think of the VersionOne Teams feature, think of it as…a team room.

Team Room Door

Team Room

To create a Team, an administrator just defines the name of the room. That’s all they have to do.

Whoever doles out the backlog (typically product owners, scrum masters or team members) can then put backlog for the team into that room. Team members walk into the room (by setting the Team filter on their tracking page) to view, estimate, schedule, sign up for and work on that backlog. That’s all they have to do.

Stakeholders can see what’s going on in the room by setting the Team filter on their report. That’s all they have to do.

The system doesn’t act like a corporate hall monitor shouting, “Mr. Lee, you need to be in the Bluebird room right now“. Mr. Lee knows he’s part of the Bluebird Team and just goes on in to the Bluebird Team room to work with his team. Heck, with the way the system works, Mr. Lee only needs to specify that he’s a Bluebird once and the system will automatically guide him back to the Bluebird room whenever he’s ready to work.

The Agile team’s final score: Getting Things Done 1, Administrivia 0.

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