Out on Safari (Staffing Specialized Skill Sets Temporarily While Maintaining Dedication)

For enterprises moving to Agile, one of the problematic organization models is handling specialized skill sets. Agile promotes and extols two concepts: teams should be long-lived and team members should be dedicated. However, for some skill sets like security, UX, DB, and others, there are not enough people to staff a dedicated person on a team permanently. Furthermore, this may not be a good use of associates' time. An Agile product team usually only needs UX expertise at specific points through the life cycle of a given product or MVP; not permanently.

There are two models which may help enterprises staff these skill sets temporarily while maintaining adherence to the Agile tenets of long-lived teams and dedication: shared services and safari. The shared services model supports repeatable and routine work. In this model, the work flows to the shared services team. To be effective, we structure the shared services team like a proper Agile product team. That means it requires a product owner who treats the requesting teams as customers. The other model is the safari team. In this model, the safari team member joins the requesting Agile product team for a limited duration. While on safari, the safari team member is dedicated to the requesting team. Similar to the shared services product owner, the safari team product owner treats the requesting Agile products teams as customers.

We will explore both models (as well as the combined model). We will do a deep dive on the guardrails to ensure the success of the teams and team members. The guardrails include prioritizing ruthlessly, reserving capacity to improve the service or product, ceremony cadence, and scheduling. By the end of the talk, attendees will have a potential pattern to adopt or modify to best suit their organization.


Outline/Structure of the Talk

  • Quick review of four core tenets of Agile
  • Deeper examination of the why behind two of those tenets: dedication and long-lived teams
  • How do we make that work for specialized skill sets like UX, DB, security, etc.
  • Introduce two potential models: shared services and safari
  • Deep dive on the shared services model
  • Deep dive on safari model
  • Measuring value for each model
  • The combined model
  • The models at a glance

Learning Outcome

  • Commitment to two of the core tenets of Agile
    • Teams are long lived
    • Team members are dedicated to their team
  • Understanding of two potential models: shared Services and safari
  • Understanding of the rules to make each model effective
    • Ruthless prioritization
    • Reserving capacity to improve the product/service
    • Treating the requesting teams as customers
    • Ceremony cadence
  • Understanding how to combine the two models when appropriate

Target Audience

Agile Coaches, People Leaders

Prerequisites for Attendees

Participants should already understand the basic construct of an Agile team. They should already know the core underpinnings of a successful team (highly collaborative, short distance from product owner to team members, dedication, etc.) Participants should also be familiar with enabler teams/functions like UX, DB, security, etc.


schedule Submitted 1 year ago

  • Eglys

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    40 Mins

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