As a result of the acceleration of software products and scalable agile development, we decided to adopt a Feature Team approach, where empowerment is the key. Why? Cause the team is encouraged to organise, motivate and make decisions on their own. The development and support in feature teams are clearly defined in the functional scope.

Feature teams: The Making Sense way

This style works well with our co-located team members, ensuring that individuals with specific skills can shine in the right environment.

In our feature teams, the group works together to complete one customer-centric feature before moving on to the next aspect, and each team has at least one specialist with a particular skill set that is critical to the task at hand.

We also leverage agile methodologies alongside our feature team strategy, organizing scrums consisting of five to nine individuals. Over the course of time, we’ve found this to be the best approach to creating products. It not only ensures that the most skilled people work on specific aspects of the project, but it also streamlines the overall process and helps us achieve a faster time to market. All stakeholders remain in contact with each other, and are on the same page over the course of the initiative.

However, this is simply the style that we have decided works best for our organization. Feature teams can be adjusted and leveraged in different ways, each working style bringing its own set of unique advantages to each individual project.

Essential feature team strategies

There are a number of ways feature teams can make all the difference when it comes to certain product development initiatives, especially when other strategies are employed alongside the working style. Let’s take a look:

  • Leveraging skills: A feature team construction enables team members to utilize their specialized skills in the best means possible to ensure the success of the project. An individual can participate in certain aspects of development depending upon their primary and secondary skills. Say, for example, this person has primary skills in business analysis and secondary skills in quality analysis.
    At Making Sense, we’ve found the task goes smoothly when an individual of this caliber leverages their BA skills at the beginning of the sprint, and works on QA aspects toward the end of the sprint. This helps the team reduce the emphasis on the individual developer and their skills to create a more cohesive, team unit.
  • Aligning with Agile: As previously mentioned, our Making Sense feature teams also work in an agile style, enabling our business to reap the benefits of both strategies. In this style, feature teams align their initiatives with agile methodologies, organizing the project according to sprints and shippable product versions.
  • Lean thinking: We’ve also adopted what we like to call lean thinking, which ensures that team members are focusing on the most pertinent aspects of the task at hand, streamlining the development process. Lean thinking helps reduce the waste that can occur when teams hand​ off projects to other teams, while also optimizing our use of critical resources. This approach also eliminates needless waiting periods and helps teams prepare the product for market that much faster.
  • Team size: There are several schools of thinking when it comes to the actual size of each feature team. While some other organizations may leverage teams with as many as 12 members, we’ve found that this approach can come with its own set of difficulties. Larger teams often suffer from a lack of concrete communication and a reduction in overall collaboration, hampering the entire development process.
    At Making Sense, we’ve found that the magic number for team size hovers around seven – our teams are typically no smaller than five individuals, and no larger than nine. This ensures the proper level of communication and collaboration throughout the task.

We have mastered our use of feature teams to support successful product development. Feature teams can offer a range of benefits for initiatives – including an increased focus on UX and UI, making for a better end user experience, as well as a faster time to market.

However, these advantages can only be had when feature teams are leveraged in the best manner possible. To find out more about our working styles, strategies and approaches and how these make all the difference for each project, contact Making Sense today.