What is an Agile Squad from the Spotify Model?

An Agile Squad in the Spotify model is an Agile Team dedicated to a long term mission that builds features to the business. It works like a mini-startup.

What are the characteristics of an Agile Squad?

Agile Squad: a team gathering all the skills to be able to deliver a feature end to end.
  • Autonomous to remove as far as possible dependencies
  • Cross-functional to cover all aspects to address business needs
  • Multi-skilled to specify, develop, test and deploy in production features
  • Covering both development and production: “You built it, you run it”
  • Co-located to enforce optimal collaboration. Space and visual management are also key levers to support team work
  • Long-lived (> min 12-18 months) to reach optimal velocity
  • Stable but not fixed: size of the team and skill mix adapt to the business needs

Furthermore, what are the key roles in an Agile Squad in the Spotify Model?

  • Product Owner: from the business and still involve in his/her day to day activity in operations. Carries the voice of the customer, maximizes value and validates features.
  • 3 roles that are not in the Spotify Model that are part of this model:
    • Scrum Master: supports the Agile practices in addition to delivering features like the rest of the team. This is not the manager of the Agile Squad even if he/she supports the delivery, pairing with the Product Owner.
    • Tech Lead: leads product technical design and implementation and supports Craftsmanship and DevOps practices in addition to delivering features like the rest of the team.
    • Production Lead: makes sure that team properly follows production processes and acts as coordinator in the team regarding production topics. He/she is also part of the delivery of the features.

At last, what are the other concerns about Agile Squad?

Additional points regarding characteristics of the Agile Squad

  • Collocation is not optional except for the PO. This implies relocation of the Team Members when team are distributed at the beginning of the journey. Ratio of staff between location may remain unchanged but at the level of the Tribe.
  • As far as possible Agile Squads are aligned on a product and are persistent on this scope. This enables over time increase of knowledge both on business and technologies of the area.
  • Ceremonies are the same like Scrum. We use also them when there is no delivery sprint like in Kanban framework.
  • Depending on the complexity of the work environment either technical or functional, team members may be only T-shape skilled. But the Agile Squad covers all the required skills for the mission. Building multi-skilling is important for the resilience and the flexibility of the Agile Squad.

Additional responsibilities related to Production and Architecture Leagues

  • Senior functional and technical roles are the representatives of the Agile Squad for the functional and the technical architecture Leagues.
  • Production Lead is the representative of the Agile Squad for the Production League.

Vocabulary: other market terms different from Spotify Model vocabulary

  • Spotify uses the just the word Squad for Agile Squad. Another term less used in the market but probably more relevant is Feature Team. Indeed, it stresses the fact that the team is aligned on the flow and can deliver features not just technical items.
  • Instead of Scrum Master, we can use the expression Agile Master to be framework agnostic. The Agile Squad can be either Scrum, Kanban or another Agile framework. There is a need to use Scrum as soon as there are many dependencies with other Agile Squads and they have to synchronize. Sprints enforce delivery meeting points with other teams.

What’s next? Learn more about Agile at Scale

Check my other posts about Agile at Scale:

Here is a collection of references about the Spotify Model

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