An agile team can be truly cross functional even when team member have different skills

How can an agile team be truly cross functional when team member have different skills sets? e.g. A backend dev cant fix a front-end bug and a QA member cant carry out front end coding

Cross functionality doesn’t happen over night, and with a team that is just starting, you get very little cross functionality to start

This happens over time, with pairing, cross training, lunch and learn sessions, and other modes of sharing information about “how things work”

Start With the Easy Stuff

When I coach teams to be cross functional, I start them out on low hanging fruit. QA can’t do front end coding, but a front end person can certainly help with testing. A back end person may not be able to help on the front end, but they can help with documentation. QA can help write automated unit tests. Etc.

Look for easy ways to make your teams cross functional first, then move up in difficulty. Allow time for the team to learn from each other and round out their skills. Allow for promiscuous pairing, and the cross functionality will come as a result of people’s natural curiosity.

Why Cross Train

There are a number of reasons to cross train team members. It helps teamwork, it helps the team make improvements, it helps with the team being more flexible, it decreases risk (the truck factor), and it helps the overall organization because a team member who already knows how to do 4 or 5 jobs can more easily learn another job or move into another role.

When we are talking about knowledge workers creating new products for the market, the evidence clearly shows that a multi-skilled team is better, because the primary activity in product development is LEARNING.

I talk about this more in a post about cross functional teams and quality

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