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Part-time agile guides focused work for teams

Part-time work goes best when you take the time to focus your efforts.

Students doing their software engineering team projects alongside other courses face a number of challenges. These issues need the team to spend time tackling them, if they want to manage them to their maximum advantage.

The team will have its members pulled in different directions due to the demands of their other courses, and the potentially different timetables they all have. If they are lucky, they all have the same course schedule, but this is unlikely if they have optional courses. Alongside this are team member commitments for sports, work, families, and other hobbies, or activities. These all affect the frequency of their meetings, and when people might be doing their work on the product.

The way the team slices the stories, and the associated tasks for the stories also affects their work. Big stories and big tasks are harder to do than small ones. The team that slices stories small, will have smaller associated tasks, which are easier to pick up and do by team members. Small tasks have less cognitive load, which means it’s easier to start/stop them during the day, which makes the work easier for team members.

How the team coordinates its work will also impact their outcomes. If team members distribute the work, and then pull it together as and when people complete their parts, this might lead to unforeseen issues such as merge conflicts, and components that don’t align with each other. The team that pairs people, or works as a mob, will keep people aligned more smoothly in their work as they’ll be aware of potential issues before they arise.

The part-time agile team must spend time organising its work

The part-time agile team needs to spend time putting all of these aspects into place so they can keep their work focused and moving forward. If it doesn’t there are many parts, as noted above, which can lead it onto a slower, more painful path.

You need to make your students aware of these issues. Knowing the potential issues, they can take steps to mitigate them, and potentially avoid some of them. The collaboration rules all apply here, as you already know. Remind them of this, and they should do better.

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