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I work on a team of 15 devs, 5 product managers (POs), 4 testers and 2 designers. We currently use what I'd call a project-based model. As projects materialize, we spin up project teams to tackle those projects. Then we wind them down as project needs diminish.

I realize this isn't particularly agile for a number of reasons - chief among them (for us) is the fact that we can't possibly establish any kind of predictable velocity. Devs rotate in and out. The work becomes more about "what do I need to get done this sprint" vs. "what does my team need to get done."

So, we are exploring a more traditional model in which our 15 developers are split into 3 static teams. But that's where it gets murky, because each of those teams will need to share the other resources. For example there will be 2 teams with 2 POs each. Another team will have to have 2 testers. Meanwhile 1 team won't have a dedicated designer.

The loudest concern is coming from the Product side, and it goes like this: What happens if, say, 4 devs from each team of 5 are dedicated to medium/large projects (all contained within each team) with each 5th dev chipping away at the backlog ... and then there's suddenly a new medium/large project on the horizon?

In our current "projectized" model we'd be able to spin up a NEW team consisting of the 3 floating devs who are chipping away at the backlog. But obviously this would defeat the purpose of 3 static teams.

Thoughts are appreciated!!

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    Well, Scrum is no silver bullet. If your business has spontaneous changes in projects and directions, maybe Scrum is a too organized approach and you would be better of with Kanban. If you need changing teams at a moments notice, then do so. Just don't try to do it with Scrum. That would be like saying a Porsche is a great car and I'm going to transport my couch with it when I move next. – nvoigt Jan 26 '17 at 9:11
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Is anyone supervising the activity of the entire team? I'm not talking about a Project Management Office entity (the team you mentioned is too small for that) - but about a person in charge with establishing priorities among projects. If the team you described is actually a small development company, then that person would be the CEO of that company.

You basically have a pool of resources (managers, developers, designers and testers) which need to be shared among the projects you have on the table. But this sharing strictly depends on the needs of each project - and it needs to be supervised by the person I mentioned above. He/she has to make sure that each project has the resources it requires, that the workload is properly distributed (nobody gets over-worked), etc. Without this kind of supervision, everything might get down to having the managers agree on the resources they use/share - but that discussion might not always be a productive one.

In the end, if you have enough projects on the table for the entire pool of resources and the new projects will keep coming - it will all become a matter of prioritizing the projects / work (a task which is also one for the supervisor I mentioned).

  • ^^^ Really great points. In our org we don't have a single individual who sets the priorities. Rather, it's a committee system. Several business units meet regularly to prioritize potential projects. From there we deploy resources to meet those project needs. – jfoss Jan 27 '17 at 23:50

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