The Agile Swarm concept is based on the bee’s swarm. 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?
What is agile swarm?
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. 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. However, you may need to resolve some pre-requirements before your team starts swarming around the sprint backlog items.
Getting your team to agile swarm.
Apply vertical slice on your backlog items
To simplify this idea, let’s think about User Stories. Apply vertical slice to divide your backlog into stories that deliver company value. If not, you might have stories that are merely layers of code, not providing working software. It is a common mistake in many companies that are starting to apply Agile. 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. For this, you might find a lot of resistance from the managers. They may require an explanation as to why two high-level developers are working on the same task at the same time. They could be attacking two different tasks.
Correct prioritization of the backlog
The Product Owner must correctly define the backlog. If not, the team may assume they are focused on the top priority items. Instead, they might be wasting time working 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. If teams work 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?