The Agile Swarm concept is based on the bee’s swarm, where many worker bees are focused on the same purpose and goal of forming a new colony. But how can this concept be applied to software development?

The idea is simple, the more you parallelize the work, the faster you’ll get results, and the better they’ll be.

It’s hard to explain that it is easier and quicker to attack the same backlog item at the same time because when we start a lot of things, it gives us the fake sensation that we are faster. However, to be a high-performance team, we must finish a lot of things and not just start a lot of things.

Agile swarm is one of the most challenging concepts to apply, although it is a technique that brings excellent results when we are talking about software development. The complexity is not in understanding it, but that you’ll probably need to resolve some pre-requirements before your team starts swarming around the sprint backlog items.

Apply vertical slice on your backlog items: to simplify this idea, about which we could have an article to explain only this, let’s think about User Stories. If you are not dividing your backlog into stories that deliver some value to the company, you might have stories that in fact, are layers of code and are not providing working software. It is a common mistake in many companies that are starting to apply Agile, and with this approach, it is almost impossible to have a team swarming to achieve the same goal

Pair programming is not a waste of time: high-performance teams are used to coding in pairs a lot. For this, you might find a lot of resistance from the managers, requiring an explanation as to why two high-level developers working on the same task at the same time when they could be attacking two different tasks.

Correct prioritization of the backlog: if the Product Owner does not correctly define the backlog, once the team is focused on the top priority items, they might work on something that will not deliver the highest value.

Different skill levels between the team members: This is not related only to technical skills but also to the knowledge of the business rules. It might be a barrier, but if the team works together, they will share more experience, and the ramp-up of new members will be faster.

Agile is entirely based on teamwork, and how about your team? Are they working together to achieve the same goal, or are they just on the same Task Management Tool?


Written by Daniel Bastos – Business Analyst and Scrum Master – Linkedin