Is it worth developing cross-competences

    Hello! My name is Lyosha. I work as a systems analyst at Alfa-Bank, where I develop electronic channels, in particular, a new Internet bank for legal entities and individual entrepreneurs.

    Cross-functionality in Scrum assumes that the team has all the competencies necessary for independent product development. But should each team member focus strictly on their core competencies? Or is it worth developing cross-competencies that colleagues specialize in?

    Today I want to talk about the experience of cross-competence development, obtained by my team during the implementation of the mail correspondence module in the new Internet bank. How did we get here and what came of it? I ask all interested under cat.

    Employee development at the Bank includes three main components - self-development, training and development at the workplace. Self-development involves the independent acquisition of new knowledge and skills through the study of relevant literature, video courses, participation in meetings and conferences. The trainings allow in a short time to get new information from the trainer and put it into practice (in the photo there is a graduation group of trainings on js). Development in the workplace is aimed at sharpening skills by solving real project problems.

    This structure is valid both in relation to the core competence of the employee, and for cross-competences. However, the development of the latter is not a requirement, but an opportunity provided by the Bank. And not every employee sees the need for the development of cross-competencies.

    Emergence of need

    At the time of the start of work on the development of the postal correspondence module, the team existed for almost eleven months and had one implemented project. Due to the technical features of this project, there was an imbalance in the load - the front-developer had more tasks than any other team member. And only other fronts that the adjacent teams sometimes shared could unload it.

    The lack of a front or middle developer due to vacation or illness led to the fact that the team could not implement a new feature without the help of other developers. The absence of an analyst or testing engineer caused difficulties in closing a user’s history, since in accordance with the adopted DoD, it was required not only to roll out a new feature into battle, but also to cover it with documentation and autotests. Consequently, the absence of at least one team member could lead to a failure to achieve the goal and transfer the history to the next sprint.

    The need for the development of cross-competencies by team members was formed during the implementation of the first project. The ability to unload your colleague, to secure for the absence could help improve the performance of the team. Therefore, some of us have decided to develop cross-competence.

    Performance boost

    The task of implementing the postal correspondence module in a new Internet bank was in many ways different from the first project. First, there was an increased load on the middle developer. Secondly, on the project, one full-fledged team and several new employees went on boarding. And finally, to increase productivity, team members who develop cross-competences tried to pick up the tasks of their colleagues. Has the team's productivity increased as a result of the development of cross-competences?

    To answer the question, we analyzed the data for 34 of the 35 sprints of the second project (the data for one sprint was not considered, since it was started with zero hundred points). Team performance was measured by the proportion of burned storypoints at the time of the sprint closing. Calculations showed that the average performance of the team for the considered period was 45%.

    In 14 sprints, team members demonstrated cross-competence. The average performance in these sprints was 53%. The value of the indicator for sprints, where no cross-competences were demonstrated, was at the level of 40%. Thus, the increase in the average productivity of the team as a result of the application of cross-competences was revealed.

    Future plans

    Is it worth developing cross-competences? The experience of implementing the mail correspondence module in a new Internet bank shows what it costs. The ability to pick up the tasks of colleagues allowed the team to achieve a 13% increase in average productivity.

    Of course, an increased interest in cross-competences can negatively affect the quality of work due to the fact that the task is performed by a less experienced team member in a given field. Therefore, everyone should focus primarily on what comes out best - on their core competencies. However, the development of cross-competences could be a nice bonus that would smooth out the drawdown, and in some cases even improve the performance of your team. So be interested in what your colleagues are doing. And, probably, sometime this knowledge really will be useful to you.

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