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What is a Cross Functional Team and Why it is Beneficial?

If you are following Scrum or Agile, you must have regularly come across the term “Cross Functional Team”. The Scrum Guide emphasizes that Scrum Teams should be self-organizing and cross-functional.

So what is a cross functional team?

A cross-functional team is a team that is organized around a common goal (can be a product, a release/ version of product, a service, etc) and must include members with all the competencies needed to accomplish the work without depending on others that are not part of the team.

In simple words, a cross functional team comprises of members with all of the skills required to plan, execute and deliver the product or increment, without a need to pass their work to someone who is not a part of the team for further steps.

This may include requirements gathering/ user story elaboration, designing, programming/code writing, validation, etc.

So different individuals with different sets of unique skills work together for one common goal in a cross functional team.

Let us look at some benefits that a cross functional team can bring:

#1 Speed/ Less delivery time:

Cross functional teams usually solve problems more quickly because each member has a unique skill set and knows how to solve an issue related to his/ her expertise area.

#2:  Fostering experimentation & innovation:

One of the key benefits of a cross-functional team is that it fosters innovation.

Working in a team with the same area of expertise can sometimes become monotonous. However, if you have people with diverse skill sets, they can bring a fresh perspective.

A team with people having diverse professional expertise can come up with new ideas and solutions that a traditional team might have overlooked. They can also perceive a problem or flaw with the solution that went unnoticed.

#3 Build a Collaborative environment:

In traditional teams, it is possible that people working in different departments rarely communicate with each other. This may lead to less transparency, and also less collaboration.

Cross-functional teams on the other hand create a collaborative environment because it gets more of your team members from different expertise working together, regardless of what department they are in.

Such teams promote shared decision-making, regular team building and working towards a common goal which in turn improves communication and hence build a collaborative environment.

#4 Create a learning culture:

In a Cross functional team, since the members brings different skill sets, they are more likely to learn from one another and expand their own skill set and knowledge base.

#5 Build Leadership Skills:

One of the important traits of a cross-functional team is being able to try out different team members in leadership roles, see how they perform and if they thrive. With such approach,  members in the team learn to be in the leadership role and can pump new life into the project.

A different leader can bring new energy into a project while making the team members feel appreciated and respected.

#6 Self-organizing:

With members having diverse skills in a cross-functional team,  they are often more likely to naturally be self-organizing.

It takes a lot of time and patience to build a cross functional team. But once it is in place, the project execution becomes quite efficient.

Do you have any tips to build a cross functional team? Share them below in your comments.


1 comment

M Amine Community Leader Sep 26, 2020

According to your experience and what you have described, does the cross functional team include testers as well? if yes are stories tested in the same sprint and in this case what testers are doing at the beginning of the sprint? if not how are they organized?


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