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What is an Agile Development Team? Overview of Key Responsibilities

July 20, 2012

The development team, also often just called dev team, arguably holds the most vital role in any agile process. While it is the ultimate aim of every scrum master to make his own role redundant and most teams could dysfunctionally continue their work without a product owner, everything comes to a standstill if there is no development team. It is the dev team's responsibility to take the product owner's vision and turn it into a tangible and demonstrable product.
 
In scrum projects, the development team consists of everybody who is involved in that process of creating the product and ensuring its quality. Oftentimes, this includes:

  • front-end developers
  • back-end developers
  • designers
  • testers

 
People often ask the question: "How do I know if my team is agile?" As it turns out, this very simple question is surprisingly deep and hard to answer. However, in the end, it all comes down to a few essential characteristics that every good agile dev team exhibits:

  • A culture of learning and knowledge-sharing
  • Cross-functional team members
  • A spirit of self-organization and self-management
  • co-located (not essential but very important)
  • single project focus (not essential but very important)

 
One of the 12 agile principles tells us to build projects around individuals. From this stems a core agile belief that we value people more than just resources. They ultimately determine how agile a team and by extension how successful a project is. Therefore, it is important to aim for team members with the following character traits when you put together or coach a team:

  • enjoys learning new things
  • likes sharing knowledge with other people
  • willingness to work on areas outside their main area of expertise

 
If you want to learn more about a scrum team see our previous post: What is a Scrum Team?