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Empowering Digital Product Teams With Agile PODs

Empowering Digital Product Teams With Agile PODs

July 9, 2021

by Innova Solutions

In today's environment, the lines between IT and business are blurring. Technology teams are expected to forge deeper relationships with customers, launch new business models & features faster, make processes more efficient, and provide better business insights. This requires software product development teams to be more agile, deliver better customer experiences, improve quality and transparency, and most importantly, add value quickly

In traditional (waterfall), as well as Scrum-based methodologies, business and IT are siloed, and IT teams are divided between application-development and application-maintenance teams. This leads to limited agility and slower value creation. To address these limitations, faster, focused, and business-oriented delivery is the need of the hour. i.e., logical unit of work that has business agility, technology agility, and scaling agility built into it.

Current IT product development approachFuture product development approach
Siloed approach between business & technology teamsTechnology Agility – integrated business & technology teams organized around customer journeys
Prioritization of product features at the start of the projectBusiness Agility – Continuous re-prioritization of customer journeys based on business needs
One team develops, and another team runs the Product leading to sub-optimal automation and code efficiencyScaling Agility – The same team builds and runs the features of the Product leading to a robust and efficient Product
This figure shows the overall capability to be packaged in a logical unit of work, i.e., an Agile POD

What is a POD?

POD stands for "Product Oriented Delivery." An agile POD is a group of people with different competencies complementing each other. This team is a self-sufficient and cross-functional team that works collaboratively to deliver a defined product requirement in multiple sprints by following the Scrum methodology.

Most Agile PODs consist of four to ten members from different disciplines (UI/UX designer, QA engineer, Fullstack developer, business analyst, etc.), who combine their know-how to help build custom products and develop innovative solutions. They are autonomous, highly adaptable teams that adopt a flexible approach to problem-solving.

Multiple PODs are involved in the delivery of the Product. They are bound by shared roles that include:

  • Governance roles – Product Director and Product Owner
  • Coaching roles – Agile/DevOps Coach(s)
  • Architects – Enterprise, Application, Data, Cloud, Security, etc.
  • SRE – Site/Service Reliability Engineering Specialists

At Innova Solutions, we have a defined methodology to execute POD-based delivery. It consists of a process and structure for POD teams, followed by PES, a three-phased model where PES stands for Plan, Execute and Sustain.

Plan a POD

The first step to work on POD-based delivery is to define the operating model. This will include:

  • The product owner
  • The governance model
  • Product architecture and customer journeys
  • Agile and DevOps methodology
  • POD teams capabilities
  • Collaboration across PODs
This figure below defines the overall process for POD planning

The POD team structure at Innova Solutions is closely aligned with Scrum Framework. It consists of a Product Manager, BA, Scrum Master, Developer, QA, Tech Lead, and Architect. All these team members work together with the same objective of achieving with the same objective of delivering a quality product.

Execute a POD

Execution is the key once POD planning is complete. Once you have a basic structure of the POD ready how do you map it to the Product? The answer is in defining clear responsibilities. There should not be an overlap between the agile PODs. Although PODs can interact and share resources, they do not share the customer journey.

The execution model for a POD focuses on:

  • Features – Implementation features organized in the form of autonomous and self-sustaining PODs
  • Team capabilities – POD team composition and size based on the Product, application, and technology complexities, and future product backlog and roadmaps
  • Team distribution – Geographical distribution (Onsite-Offshore-Nearshore) based on the high-touch customer experience requirements, integration with business teams, time-to-market, and people capabilities

At Innova Solutions, we follow the following team structure while executing agile PODs.

Sustain a POD

As the Product develops, multiple PODs are created. To sustain these PODs, it is critical to define certain metrics. A few of them are:

  • KPIs

    • POD velocity: Measure POD against number of story points delivered sprint by sprint.
    • Sprint completion rate: Measure PODs committed vs. completed work.
    • Sprint burndown: Measure how smooth the sprint was.
  • Retrospectives

    Each POD must ponder upon what went well and what can be improved. The PODs do their retrospective analysis separately and share their learning across other PODs

  • Share the learning

    Once a POD identifies areas of improvement individually, it should be shared with other PODs to enable scalable continuous improvement.

POD of PODs:

"POD of POD" is like Scrum of Scrums. The only difference is that POD of PODs also includes the leadership team. Scrum Master from each POD will share high-level updates with the leadership team in a time-boxed session. However, you can define any frequency for this call. At Innova Solutions, we do it weekly.

Key advantages of POD-based model.

The key advantages of POD-based delivery include:

Business Agility

  • Enriched client experience: POD teams work in controlled agile environments to meet clients' goals and expectations. They deliver quality and value to the customer by continuously adapting to meet business objectives.
  • Better workflows and faster delivery times: With the advantage of single-source accountability, the communication gap is minimized and POD teams are able to deliver releasable products with greater agility and finesse.

Technology Agility

  • Cross-functional awareness: POD team members appreciate how different roles interact and understand other mindsets and perspectives within the team.
  • Collaborative approach: Each POD builds a strong relationship with their clients, sponsors, and stakeholders to gain a full understanding of what they need, what is important for them, and the project's success to create the best possible outcome.

Scale Agility

  • Jump in the quality or scalability: Each POD works together with the customer and ensures to keep them happy during the entire journey. They are customizable and can be tweaked depending on business requirements leading to maximum innovation.
  • Flexibility: POD teams consist of specialized core teams and specialists from related departments to ensure rapid problem-solving. Members from multiple PODs can also work on different goals, without disrupting the overall structure.

Conclusion

Agile POD is more of a delivery model than a process, and with its cross-functional capabilities, POD methodology can be tailored according to the customer’s needs. PODs have become a game-changer in agility, providing enriched client experience and faster time to market. In a traditional model, development can take three months; in an agile POD delivery model it can be done in almost three weeks.

Given the current trend of disruption, businesses looking for innovations and new opportunities must embrace Agile PODs to reach a higher level of efficiency.

Case Studies

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