Resolve the Contradiction of Specialists within Agile Teams

Steve Berczuk

As teams grow, organizations often draw a distinction between feature teams, which deliver the visible business value to the user, and component teams, which manage shared work. Steve Berczuk says that this distinction can help organizations be more productive and scale effectively, but he recognizes that not all shared work fits into this model. Some work is best handled by “specialists,” that is people with unique skills. Although teams composed entirely of T-shaped people is ideal, certain skills are hard to come by and are used irregularly across an organization. Since these specialists often need to work closely with teams, rather than working from their own backlog, they don’t fit into the component team model. The use of shared resources presents challenges to the agile planning model. Steve Berczuk shares how teams such as those providing infrastructure services and specialists can fit into a feature+component team model, and how variations such as embedding specialists in a scrum team can both present process challenges and add significant value to both the team and the larger organization.

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