Today, every project is created with a project management methodology. Agile is the most popular of these methodologies today. So what are the reasons why Agile approach is widely preferred by companies? Where is the support team in this approach and what is its importance? What problems can be encountered and what are the solutions? I tried to cover some of them in this blog post.

What is Agile?

Agile project management, also called agile software development methodology, is based on daily feedback and developments; is a flexible, dynamic, customer-focused approach in which team communication is at the forefront.

The main purpose of the Agile approach is to produce an output that can be run for the customer within the smallest planned time frame from the moment the project process starts.

Scrum, Kanban, XP, .. are examples of Agile frameworks.

Why answer the Agile question with the Agile manifesto:

  • Rather than processes and tools, individuals and the interaction between them are at the forefront.
  • Emphasis is placed on working software rather than extensive documentation.
  • Collaboration with the customer is essential rather than contract negotiations.
  • The focus is on responding to change rather than sticking to a plan.

What is Agile Support Team? What is the Life Cycle?

As the name suggests, the support team is positioned as a customer support line in the project. Its main task is to receive customer requests in order of priority, evaluate them and return them as quickly as possible. When the customer comes with a request or complaint, this is the first place to welcome. Therefore, the project teams have a dynamic and intense structure that has the highest level of interaction with the customer.

Although it varies on a company basis, customer meetings are held on a weekly basis. In these meetings, actions such as evaluating the general situation, collecting requests and errors, and criticizing the targeted work are carried out. People in the role of project manager and analyst usually attend the meetings. After the meeting, these people will also distribute the work to the team.

The support team can be divided into different teams according to the project structure. In the factories that are the production areas of the customers (also called the field), the field support team is used to monitor the progress, carry out the works that need to be done on the field side and support the customer, and a local/local service within the company for integrating the requests from the field support team and the customer into the current application. There is a support team.

What Kind of Problems Are Encountered?

Since the support teams work in a dynamic layer, many problems may be encountered during the project process. Let’s try to look at what these problems might be from different windows.

As in every business, the way to make a process successful is to have a good understanding of the concept of ‘team’, which is the smallest unit in the process. The concept of being a good team underlies the Agile methodology. Failure to grasp the following situations by team members will lead to different problems.

  • Lack of good team spirit. (Failure to grasp team awareness and individual approach to work)
  • Insufficient communication within the team.
  • Failure to transfer information within the team.
  • The concentration of the team on one person.
  • Lack of free thinking environment within the team.
  • Poor communication between the field support team and the local support team.

In a normal team, the above-mentioned states are expected to be provided by default. On the customer side of the window, there are situations that include the main responsibilities of the support team. Failure to fulfill these responsibilities as outlined below will increase the tension of the customer and adversely affect the course of the project.

  • Failure to respond regularly to customer emails.
  • Going to customer meetings without preparation.
  • Post-meeting situation analysis and non-periodical distribution of work.
  • Allocating work to the team without prioritizing it.
  • Planning and commissioning the works in the field in order to save the day.
  • Ability to make customer request or error notification through different channels.
  • Failure to inform the customer about the implemented improvements.
  • Stuck on a problem encountered in the application.

What are the Solutions?

In the solution of the above-mentioned problems, the attitudes of all members of the team and people in different roles are effective. In solving team problems, everyone has more individual work to do.

  • The people in the team should aim to achieve general success in addition to individual success in the results of their work. A project that is seen as qualified happens when the whole team works in a coordinated way and everyone’s effort is available.
  • Communication within the team is very important for the smooth running of the workflow and ensuring a happy working environment. In addition, the energy emitted by the team is reflected on the customer, and the company profile will also be affected. The project manager and individuals should be aware of this and ensure that this environment is created.
  • Everyone in the team should be inclined to share and disseminate the knowledge they have. Thus, while the development of the people in the team is ensured, it will also be prevented from advancing the work through a single person in case of a crisis.
  • Team managers should arrange the work distribution well so that the workload is not concentrated on one person. People in the team should tend to achieve this balance by taking the initiative when necessary and taking over the work of the busy person.
  • There should be an environment in the team where all people can freely express their ideas and be heard without being judged. Different perspectives can bring different solutions to problems, and it also means that another person sees a solution that one person cannot see.
  • The field support team and the local support team should be in contact with each other in order not to give different feedback to the customer and to carry out the work in a holistic way.

Let’s take a look at possible solutions to probes that the support team affects the customer channel:

  • Responding to customer emails on a regular basis is one of the main tasks of the support team. If the necessary information is not provided, the customer will think that he has not been contacted and will cause negative situations. Therefore, the priority of the person in the role of analyst on the team should always be the customer, and the customer should be informed about the situation frequently and in a determined order.
  • If you go to their meeting unprepared, when the customer asks something about a subject, you will not have enough information, and this will create the feeling that you are not following the work from the customer and that you are not sufficiently interested in the subject. For this reason, it is necessary to prepare before the meeting and to have up-to-date information on all the topics to be discussed.
  • After each customer meeting, situation analysis meetings should be held in order to evaluate the general situation, distribute the work to the team, deliver the work in the time requested by the customer, and proceed in a planned manner. The project manager should organize periodic meetings for this purpose. A printout of this meeting should also be shared with the customer for information purposes.
  • The work should be prioritized and distributed to the team, with the participation of the analyst and, if necessary, the project manager. Prioritization should be made taking into account the wishes of the customer and the current situation of the team .
  • It should not be forgotten that doing the work in the field to save the day will cause some problems in the future. When a problem arises, you may be exposed to comments such as “It means things were not done properly on time”. That’s why you should give your “deadline” dates accordingly, and even if the customer reacts, you should find the middle way and produce outputs that can be mutually agreed.
  • Making request/error notification from multiple channels will complicate the manageability, cause some work to be overlooked and prevent the work from being carried out in a systematic way. To prevent this, it should be decided to use one of the ALM tools. If the customer resists in this regard, a necessary explanation can be made and a stance can be taken that this is our business format.
  • When an update is made to the application as a result of an improvement or correction of errors, an informative text containing what has been done at what points should be shared with the customer regularly. In this way, the customer will be able to follow the changes in the project and will be aware of the changes.
  • The main task of the support team is to respond to customer requests as quickly as possible. Therefore, when an error affecting the basic functions of the application is received, help from other teams should be sought without wasting much time. Errors in basic issues do not fall into the main job description of the support team.