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Running more than one service team
As soon as you have more than one team working on a service, you need to make sure they’re able to coordinate their plans, communicate progress and collaborate effectively using agile methods.
This can mean a small increase in the amount of work, but don’t lose sight of the aim to have self-organising, self-managing teams.
Managing multiple teams
Having more than one team doesn’t mean you need more governance. Make sure you continue to follow the GDS governance principles to keep it to a minimum.
As someone in a leadership or management role, you need to:
- make sure everyone understands the service vision and goals, especially new starters
- have teams plan together and think about what they’ll individually be responsible for
- look at splitting work by theme, product or features to minimise dependencies between teams
- think about whether it makes sense to share specialist people across teams, for example technical architects and people working in security, policy or finance
Delivery teams work best when they can control how they work. When you have multiple teams, it’s important that you don’t force them to work in exactly the same way as each other.
Get your teams sitting together
It’s better for multiple teams to be sitting in the same location, just as a single team benefits from this. When your teams don’t sit together:
- there are communication difficulties
- there’s less informal communication and learning
- it’s harder to establish a shared culture
You can split teams across different shared locations if you can’t find a suitable space for all members, or people live and work in different parts of the country.
You can also use the following tools to help teams that don’t have a shared space to communicate effectively and stay in touch at all times:
- video communication
- social media (including Slack, Hipchat, Yammer etc)
- regular face-to-face meetings
Encourage cross-team standups
You can get team representatives together in regular cross-team standups (sometimes called a ‘standup of standups’). It’s helpful for delivery managers to attend these so they can:
- report on their team’s progress
- raise concerns about blockers
- find out about opportunities to help other teams
- learn from other delivery managers’ experiences
Cross-team standups should take place in front of a shared team wall, which is useful for making blockers and achievements visible. Walls also give people a sense of shared ownership and encourage them to discuss different aspects of your service.
Examples and case studies
You may find the following useful:
- scaling for agile: a GDS blog post
- making clear goals for complex agile programmes: a GOV.UK Verify blog post
You may also find these guides useful: