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  • Writer's pictureMarco Toscano

How to Run an Agile Project with Transient Teams That Work?

Updated: Jan 11, 2022

To be successful, agile teams must have a high level of team stability. Stability, on the other hand, isn't always possible. People come and go for various reasons, but your project must remain on track at all times. So, how do you run an agile project with transient teams and make it successful? And how can a transient team strategy help you achieve better results on your project?

What Are Transient Teams and What Do They Do?

Before defining transient teams, let's start with the importance of "stability". For agile teams, stability is a desirable trait. People are more productive, work is more predictable, and people are generally happier when they are on the same team for the duration of a project.

However, team composition consistency is not always possible, leading to transient teams. People frequently change project teams or split their time between several projects simultaneously. On occasion, the project owner will purposefully matrix team members across projects.

What Makes a Team Transient in the First Place?

Teams become transient for a variety of reasons. They can start that way or end up that way due to unforeseen circumstances.

Teams can become transient at any time for a variety of reasons, including:

  • An organizational shift that occurs outside of the project's boundaries

  • A client dictates the dynamics of staffing.

  • Team members being matrixed across multiple projects (could be standard practice if the

  • client's teams are structured this way)

  • Individuals are leaving the company, and their jobs must be filled.

  • The dynamics among team members shift.

  • The Consequences of a Transient Team

  • Team stability is essential for efficiency, accuracy, and timely project completion. The following are some of the negative consequences of more transient teams:

  • The team's work product lacks predictability.

  • Workflow disruption A lack of trust within the team – existing, well-established relationships vs. forming new relationships with new team members

  • Loss of technical or domain knowledge, particularly if the departing employee is a senior member of the team.

  • Switching between Project A and Project B wastes time (if team members are matrixed)

  • Transient teams are unfortunately becoming more common in today's unpredictable Staffing and contracting environment.

When You Have a Transient Team, Here Are Some Project Success Tips

So, how can you keep your software development projects on track with the least amount of disruption and instability? Even if you can't eliminate staffing issues, you can do a few things to lessen the impact and keep team collaboration high.

  • Using a Kanban board to make all work (not just development work) as visible as possible is the best way to manage transient team issues for agile projects. Begin by visualizing the work that will be required to onboard new team members.

  • Create an onboarding card template that includes a checklist of tasks for the new team member to complete to get started. When a new team member joins, create an onboarding card using the template.

  • If they need to coordinate with multiple people to access tools, those instructions should be included in the card. This enables new team members to be as self-sufficient as possible, requiring less time and effort for existing team members to acclimate new team members.

  • Give a Kanban Board Tour to New Team Members: Walk through the setup of the board, the workflow, any links to references, and any suggestions for how to make it better for the next person.

  • Allow the student to take over as the teacher: When the next new team member arrives, have the previous new member of the team give the next Board tour. This will help to reinforce the information and empower the team's newer members.

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