Cross-Functional Scrum Teams
Think of a basketball game
3 June 2014
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I have seen many discussions of the concept of cross-functional Scrum teams. The argument is that if you have a team with testers, BAs, and coders, does it make sense for testers to code, BAs to test, and coders to gather requirements?
I think that's a good question, but on a Scrum team, the team is really presented a goal, and its members must determine how to get there. The best example for this scenario that I can present is a basketball game.
The goals of basketball are very simple: Get the ball through a hoop and prevent your opponent from doing the same. You have a team of five players on the floor, and that team must figure out how to achieve its goal. The traditional basketball team is made up of a center, a power forward, a small forward, a shooting guard, and a point guard. These positions all have areas for which they are responsible. The center and forwards play close to the basket and are responsible for rebounding and points near the hoop. The point guard handles the ball and is the floor general. The shooting guard has backcourt responsibilities and looks to create baskets from the outside, either through a jump shot or a drive to the basket. This is an oversimplification, but close enough.
With that being said, there are times when the situation in the game changes and the shooting guard may need to go inside and fight for rebounds. The point guard may get trapped in the backcourt and need to pass to someone else to bring the ball up-court, and the center may be left alone at the top of the key and be forced to take jump shorts. So essentially, the shooting guard is playing the role of the forward, someone else is taking the role of the point guard, and the center is taking the role of a shooting guard. To accomplish the team goal of scoring and preventing the other team from scoring, these real-time adjustments and examples of cross-functionality must take place.
Similarly, on a Scrum team, the coders should be doing the coding, the BAs should be performing the analysis, and the testers should be testing, in general. However, the team should have a goal, and if, to accomplish the goal, someone needs to help with the testing, or a developer needs to gather some requirements, or a BA should need to get into the code (gasp!), the individual team members should be ready and willing to step in and fulfill those overall needs of the team.
In my previous company I learned this, and I feel I now truly understand the concept of cross-functional Scrum teams.
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