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Agile Principle Part 4: Business People and Developers Must Work Together

by Ken Rickard

Dec 11, 2017

Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project

This principle is the bane of more projects than any other. If the business believes they can show up at the beginning and the end only, your project failure chances have gone up considerably.

Let's break this principle down...

Business People - End Users, Stakeholders, and Product Owners. These people could all be considered business people depending on your project type. Not all of them will be able to interact with the project daily, but someone familiar with the project from these groups should be available, listening and providing direction when needed each and every day.

Key word here... Available. Doesn't mean they need to be dedicated, just means they can quickly stop by someones desk to answer a question, or attend a meeting regularly to help guide the development direction. This should be the bare minimum time commitment to finding someone from the business to play this key role. Of course Scrum names this role outright, and it is called the Product Owner. Agile doesn't define this role, or any roles, so you might need to fill this gap with a PO equivalent.

Developers - Even developers have been conditioned to only interact with the business at the beginning and end of a project. Breaking that cycle in developers is sometimes hard, and some might not want to operate any differently than they have in the past. Even more so, interacting with the business daily means they're exposing their work habits and output to the business regularly. That can be uncomfortable at times in some companies, as the relationship between the business and developers can be strained from past project failure.

Creating a culture where failure is not hidden, yet instead is viewed as a chance to improve is important. It will make developers open up about the things they typically try to hide, and the transparency at the company level will work wonders for your internal culture. Your business might even start to own up to some of their own missteps. Have you even been around a person who accepts a healthy amount of failure, and is transparent about it when it happens? It's quite refreshing as we all fail, why hide it?

"Creating a great culture fosters two things: continual experimentation, taking risks and learning from failure; and understanding that repetition and practice is the prerequisite to mastery" - Jurgen Appello in "Management 3.0"

Must Work Together Daily - Sometimes it's what is not said that is important. This principle does not say Project Managers and Business Analyst should play the middle-man role and communicate between the business and the developers. No, instead it specifically says that developers and the business should work together daily. A large part of the rift between the business and development can be attributed to lack of direct communication, which reduces transparency and trust. No trust means less communication, less understanding, and a higher tendency to hide things from one other.

I've seen companies that have as many as 3 layers between their developers and the business. All in the name of protecting the business from those wacky developers. You know they'll say anything right? And they play D&D and collect bottle caps. Strange in deed. ;-)

This 12 part series was published by Ken Rickard on LinkedIn Pulse, to read the original version of this blog click hereTo read the entire 12 part series, click here for a table of contents. 

Interested in learning more about the Agile Methodology or incorporating it into your business? Contact a representative at CCG by emailing info@ccgbi.com or call (813) 265-3239.