This is a continuation of "No-Brainer Self-Management Practices in Agile Part 1"
Whole Teams Improve Coordination and CommunicationA whole team is a small group of people (no more than 12) that work together towards a common purpose, primarily spend their time as part of the team, and as a team have all of the skills they need in order to be self-sufficient. These skill sets may include server side programmer, web designer, tester, technical writer, scrum master, product owner, etc. The whole team practice contributes to self-management by reducing the amount of coordination required in order to achieve a goal. For instance, instead of having to coordinate with a QA group in order to find somebody that can test a piece of software, having a QA person as part of the team means that there is always somebody familiar with the software available to test it.
Another benefit of having a whole team is that it makes it more obvious if you have resource imbalances. If the QA folks in the team can’t keep up with the developers, then you either have too many developers on the team or too few QA folks. If your front end developers can’t keep up with the folks working on the back end, then you have a resource imbalance. You either need to add more folks with the right skill set, or you need to reduce the amount of work being done on the back end.
When you have a whole team, you spend less time waiting for other groups and bringing part-time participants up to speed, you lose less time due to communication delays, and individuals spend less time multi-tasking between multiple projects. Taken together, the benefits of whole teams can have a significant impact on reducing management complexity which makes it easy for teams to do more self-management.
Collocation Further Improves Coordination and Communication
Collocation is closely related to whole teams. Collocation is simply having everybody in close proximity to each other. This compounds the coordination benefit of whole teams.
If you have a large group of people that are not all near each other but they are all working towards a single deliverable, collocation may seem impractical on the surface. However, collocation at the whole team level is more important than collocation of multiple teams. Focus on creating whole teams that can collocate rather than collocating the whole group of people.
The challenge with both whole teams and collocation is that they often require either relocating people, changes to management structures, or both. However, the benefits of having a tightly coordinated team working towards a common goal far outweighs the difficulties associated with creating collocated whole teams.