How Does Agile Software Governance Work?

Agile software governance provides a unique way to manage projects within a larger scope. The main goal is to have all the moving pieces working together to pull an organization in a well-defined direction rather than in many directions at once.

The word ‘governance’ should give you an idea that Agile is far more than a simple project management system. A government has both policies (actions or decisions) and an agenda (the overall plan) — and any reasonable government’s agenda and policies are aligned, leading to a coherent overall strategy. The principle is the same with Agile software governance: It provides a framework in which to organize individual projects that sync up logically.

First, projects within the Agile framework need to reflect a company’s overall business goals. Metrics and expectations need to be established to make sure the project makes sense in the business’s trajectory. What defines success for this particular project? How will this project help the company overall? What risks are associated with this project? What can we reasonably expect? These are questions Agile governance can help you answer.

A project in the Agile software governance model needs to be transparent across teams — so that teams can have access to as much information and context as possible. This is the opposite of data compartmentalization, and allows for greater flexibility and responsiveness than many other models.

Additionally, effective practices and team behavior are far more important than strict adherence to organizational procedures and documentation processes. At the same time, the project has to comply with all relevant regulations — so it’s not like free-form performance art.

This is perhaps one of the most vital questions in all areas of human endeavor, from sports to software and everything in between. Humans are an aggressively social species because we need each other to accomplish complex tasks. When a team performs well together, the result is far greater than the sum of its parts. We’ve identified a few key elements that can help a team reach its highest potential.

Ensuring team members have complementary skills is one of the most vital steps management can take. When all necessary skills for a complex task are covered, work can be delegated and an individual can focus on what they do best. As Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it’ll spend its entire life believing it’s stupid.” Identifying and encouraging individuals’ skills helps workers do their job well and have a sense of pride in doing so.

Next, having well-defined objectives — within which workers can work to the maximum possible degree of autonomy — is also a recipe for success. If nobody knows where the goal post is, how can they know how to score? Each team member needs to know what success looks like and how they can contribute to it.

Additionally, while company culture is often discussed like an inanimate object in the business world, it’s not something that just happens. Company culture is often a result of both inorganic and organic processes, i.e. top-down decisions and structure and bottom-up individual personality manifesting throughout an organization.

A healthy company and team culture is one that fosters trust, individual responsibility and accountability, and team members’ desire to learn and expand both individual and team skills. In many cases, a little dash of friendly competition can help push people to excel. This all has to take place in a framework that encourages openness and honesty, kindness, and shared victories.

The Agile framework sets standardized-but-flexible roles for an Agile team so organization becomes intuitive and everyone knows their job. The framework can be scaled up or down as necessary depending on the size and scope of the project.

At the top of this particular organization chart is the Product Owner (PO). The PO is the person responsible for the ultimate outcome of the project, and has the broadest overview of the project. They have to make sure it is aligned with overall goals, provides value for stakeholders (the end user/recipient of the product), and responds to feedback from external sources.

The PO coordinates with the to make sure the project stays on schedule, while managing communication with project stakeholders.

The Team Leader/Scrum Manager organizes the day-to-day operation of the project, including organizing the daily Scrum (meeting) and ensuring team members are on task and are aware of their goals. They handle communications with the PO and other outside members to minimize distractions and interference within their team. They also work as a single point of contact to prevent redundant communication, and handle all administrative work so that their team can focus on their job.

Team members can be whatever is required for the particular project: backend developers, frontend developers, UX/UI developers, writers, and so on. They are each assigned an individual component of the project to work on and coordinate their daily work within the framework established during the daily Scrum. They report to the Scrum Leader.