Saturday, May 3, 2008

Learning from LTV at LTC: Build Complete Teams

ypically projects are done by assembling cross-functional teams from different areas, each person with a narrow responsibility. This is a very efficient way of handling day-to-day business but an ineffective way of getting business-changing projects done. This is especially true is the project is going to be going on for a while.

The key to our success was having a complete team that could handle all phases of the project. There was no point in the project that we threw the project over the wall to another team, or caught something that another team was throwing at us. When we were working with other teams we established working relationships with them and brought those teams into the project. Every member on the LTV team could speak to all aspects of the project and have meaningful input into all aspects of the project.

Let me give an example of what can happen with fragmented, siloed teams. I was working on updating a project that had been launched several years before. There was one team that extracted the data from a datamart, another that took the data and loaded it into a staging area, and a third team that loaded the data from the staging area into the application. I asked the question “who can guarantee that the data in the application is right”? Thunderous silence. No one could guarantee that the final data was right, or even that their step was correct; all they could promise was that their scripts had run without obvious error.

If I had to give a name to this approach I'd call it the “A-Team” approach: complete functional teams that understand each other's areas.

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