What is a Cross - Functional Team in Agile?

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What is a Cross-Functional Team in Agile?

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Are you an Agile Beginner? You might have heard about the traditional top-to-bottom organizational hierarchy in which the management was the decision-makers, and the employees were the followers. Now Agile Transformation has introduced a new model called the Flat Hierarchy in which everyone works with open workspaces and cross-functional teams in a close-knit working environment. Not only does it eliminate the old bureaucracy, but it helps organizations to elevate their employees’ sense of responsibility. It puts forward the concept of Agile Cross-Functional Teams.

Introducing Cross-Functional Teams in Agile:

Cross-functional Teams in Agile are an ongoing effort by organizations such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, and Netflix to bring innovation and creativity to day-to-day workflows. Cross-functional teams accept company-wide challenges to improve future project planning, product goal execution, and team collaboration.

How Do Cross-Functional Teams Work?

Cross-functional teams facilitate inter-team and intra-team collaboration, dedicatedly working for the same Product Goal. As the building blocks of Agile Scrum project management, cross-functional team members have different responsibilities while aiming to achieve the same organizational goal.

Simple enough? Well, keep reading as there’s more.

Cross-functional teams cover various operational areas, including Developers, Software Testers, Scrum Master, Product Owner, Project Managers, Program Coordinators, Marketers, Salespeople, and Technology Analysts. Each team helps the business cover different directions of its operations at once. So everyone works independently by delivering moderate efforts. Still, the business succeeds in pursuing its end Product Goal more efficiently. 

The Important Of Cross-Functional Teams in Agile:

Cross-functional teams add a competitive edge to adapt to Agile Transformation among companies. As said earlier, cross-functional team members work as individuals with different responsibilities while pursuing a common Product Goal. The approach of cross-functional teams in Agile offers the following benefits:

  • It increases the overall team productivity. 
  • It facilitates smooth team coordination and communication.
  • The functional teams span around the organizational boundaries.
  • Being self-organized teams, they possess better decision-making skills.
  • The teams have excellent problem-solving abilities.
  • The teams manage the development and delivery cycle based on the Product Goal.
  • Product Owner gets faster response times from Developers.
  • Teams plan and visualize the end-to-end Product Roadmap.
  • The Scrum Team increases the quality of deliverables by managing all other groups.

Of course, cross-functional teams are responsible for self-organizing their responsibilities and project deliverables. Still, the Agile Leader has to find the right team members with the right abilities who can manage the deliverables of Agile Teams efficiently.

How To Form Cross-Functional Teams in an Agile Environment?

Now that you know what Agile cross-functional teams are and how they work to offer added benefits to organizations, it’s time to learn effective ways to form well-functioning Agile Teams. Here are the best possible ways to create cross-functional teams from scratch.

1. Bring Diversity to The Team

In Agile, everyone has a dedicated role to play. However, the Agile Leander should focus on the team’s overall formation instead of individual team members’ abilities. To bring diversity among cross-functional agile teams, the Project Manager can include members with different ages, genders, skills, and past professional experiences.

2. Keep The Product Goal Aligned

Companies that successfully align the end goals with employees across the organization enjoy higher levels of success. Hence, once the Product Owner sets the Product Vision, the Agile Practitioner should build teams that align with the end Product Goal. The Agile CSPO must ensure that every cross-functional team member is rowing in the same direction as the company’s vision. 

3. Include Professional Subject Matter Experts

Every cross-functional team will require the guidance and advice of a Solution Expert or Subject Matter Expert. Alongside the Product Owner, the cross-functional teams need a Scrum Master to track their progress through Sprints. The CSM assigns User Stories to Developers and reviews the team’s productivity through Daily Scrum.

4. Stop Over-relying on Meetings

Meetings like Daily Scrum or Sprint Retrospective happen only to check the team’s overall work progress. Cross-functional teams should not rely on daily standup meetings to take certain decisions. Instead, the groups should perform complex decision-making in times of need. Team collaboration platforms like Azure DevOps, Kanban, Slack, Glip, and Github allow cross-functional teams to collaborate without attending meetings.

5. Embrace Automation and Workflow Advancements

The Agile Leander should increase the employees’ engagement in innovating and automating various operational workflows. For that, he can conduct Workshops and Agile Training Sessions so that cross-functional team members can share their unique ideas openly. 

Conclusion: The Idea of Cross-Functionality Among Agile Teams

Cross-functionality is an ability that allows team members to utilize their abilities in the best way possible. That doesn’t mean that individuals should work on dedicated responsibilities. Instead, cross-functional teams operate as a whole to achieve the same Product Goal based on the organizational requirements. The Product Owner and Scrum Master contribute to the cross-functional team formation that helps organizations accelerate their Agile Transformation journey.


  1. https://www.scrum.org/resources/blog/10-quick-tips-improve-cross-functionality-within-your-scrum-team



Is a passionate learner and blogger on Agile, Scrum and Scaling areas. She has been following and practicing these areas for several years and now converting those experiences into useful articles for your continuous learning.