Agile Team Structure – 4 Options For Your Project Team

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The author spent the first part of her career working in IT and IT Project Management in the oil industry and investment banking on complex global projects involving the management of outsourced project teams. She now runs a digital marketing company with particular expertise in technical SEO and Content Marketing.

Agile project management has taken the IT world by storm, and is reported to be saving some companies around 25 per cent on their production costs as a result. Slowly, the agile mentality is making its way into other areas too, as companies outside of the IT industry start to recognise the benefits of working in a more flexible, changeable way.

If you are in the process of putting together an agile project team, you have the ability to choose a number of models in terms of the structure and focus of your team. Here are four of the most popular team structures in use today that you could adopt depending on the needs of your project.

1.      A generalist team

The generalist team offers great flexibility because any team member can pick up any task at any time. If your team is made up of people who have a broad range of skills and can work in diverse roles, this could be a great choice for you. Generalist project teams will need to understand the project clearly from the start and be able to see things from different viewpoints throughout. The approach is hard to implement with large teams, however, and works best in small businesses where everyone is passionate and multi-talented.

2.      A specialist team

The specialist team is made up of people who are experts in their own discipline. It is completely to opposite of the generalist team where everyone can do a bit of everything, and instead focusses on getting the very best people for each part of the job to work together on the project delivery. The upside is that you have the potential to develop a very good project, what with so many specialists working on their own elements of the job. The downside is that you might end up with some people overloaded and missing their sprint targets, whilst others twiddle their thumbs with nothing to do.

3.      A relay team

For companies that are trying to move away from the waterfall methodology and are in the process of transitioning to scrum, this type of team is a common marker. Working as a tag team, the team members work for a sprint on particular discipline and then everything grinds to a halt whilst they fold back and wait for the next discipline to start. This is good for a team that are not ready to embrace the agile philosophy entirely, but in the long run will only make deadlines harder to achieve.

4.      Team handoff

Once the scrum is in use across the whole organisation, a handoff team can work really well. In this model, the work is handed off from one team to another over the course of the project, letting the best people take care of different aspects of the final deliverables as time goes on. For example, a product may be designed by one team, built by another and then installed by a third. This only works when the entire organisation is working in an agile way and is comfortable with this type of mentality.

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Project management has developed into a fully-fledged chartered profession since the granting of the Royal Charter in the UK to The Association for Project Management (APM) in 2017. Training courses for project managers were already available and highly popular to help people gain professional project management accreditation, but with this wider recognition of the profession it is now seen as a desirable career path for many. Whilst the APM has the coveted Royal Charter and continues to develop its APM PMQ (formerly the APMP) programmes, there are also other internationally recognised qualifications that continue to be highly regarded such as PMP and PRINCE2.

Organisations have become increasingly project-focused in this era of rapidly emerging new technologies and they value the expertise that comes with experienced and fully qualified project teams and managers. By investing in their project management capability businesses can be confident of delivering their new projects in time and on budget more often and more successfully. Many major corporation are now training their people to have the right project management qualifications as well as relevant experience, through internal Learning & Development (L&D) programmes; or by using external project management training providers.

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