People should be dedicated to one and only one team. The science of team work shows this over and over again. Yet, on occasion, we’re stuck when we have one person and their skills are unique enough that we can’t avoid having them work in multiple teams as part-time members.
But let’s be clear from the beginning about some costs of having part-time team membership:
- Multitasking – They will lose some fraction of their time to task-switching between groups.
- Waiting – Both work items and other team members will get stuck waiting for the part-timer to be available to help out. This will show up in the work as an increase in Cycle Time.
- Quality – When people are doing heavier multitasking, the work quality will suffer.
- Loss of Context – The part-timer will miss some Daily Scrums and will need to be brought up to speed about things that have changed.
- Priority – Which work is more important? One team will starve due to lack of support.
If you have an expert whose skills are essential, it might be tempting to just split them over, for example, three teams giving each team 33% of their time, but the costs are high. They may be worth paying, but the choice shouldn’t be made lightly.
If a team needs this skill for the long term, then we should look into Cross-Skilling. In this case, the expert would move from being an individual contributor to helping someone in the team learn the rudiments of the skill. Over the course of enough Sprints, our regular team member will move from having little knowledge, to being able to do the work without outside help. Our part-timer, meanwhile, will move from doing the work, to reviewing the quality of the work.
- Can Team Members be on Multiple Teams?
- Incorporating Part-time Team Members
- Sharing Team Members in Scrum
Organizing Towards Agility – Jeff Anderson – Offers another model called the Traveller Pool.
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