If organising work by product (or service) is the appropriate approach for specialist individuals involved with software delivery, how do we go about structuring that Product team?
Much of this depends upon the value a business is looking to achieve, and this influences which specialists are needed, to accomplish the work required. In my opinion there are some fundamental aspects which we need to be cognisant of, when structuring a Product team.
With a more typical work by major function organisational structure, a significant part of any project’s setup and life-cycle can be concerned with first identifying the relevant individuals, and then having them progress through to the Performing stage of group development. When individuals are not closely collaborating, this group development is hindered.
Teasley et al (2000) observed through their study of six teams operating in a war room environment; having the entire project team in one room for the duration of a project, resulted in producing remarkable productivity improvements for the teams involved.
I advocate starting with as many individuals as possible being co-located in a single location and sat together working as a team. This will help them progress faster through the stages of group development. I would also add that once mature, this team can still perform well when working remotely perhaps in a more virtual team setup, but this can only happen effectively after the team has progressed past the forming and storming stages.
Identifying and reducing the causes of waiting within a team and their processes is a continuous activity. Although we can approach the structure of our product team with the aim of limiting the amount of handover and, therefore, the waiting time between new feature request or concept hypothesis, through to the point where that concept hypothesis or feature can be tested or used by the intended customer.
Brooks Jr, F. P. (1995). The Mythical Man-Month, Anniversary Edition: Essays on Software Engineering. Pearson Education.
Tuckman, B. W., & Jensen, M. A. C. (1977). Stages of small-group development revisited. Group & Organization Management,
Teasley, S., Covi, L., Krishnan, M. S., & Olson, J. S. (2000). How does radical collocation help a team succeed?. In Proceedings of the 2000 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work.
Ohno, T. (1988) Toyota Production System, Productivity Press