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What is collaboration and why is it important to Agile methodologies?

Agile methodologies stress the benefits of collaboration, working with cross-functional teams to encourage communication between business owners and IT.

Collaboration simply means to work jointly rather than independently to accomplish a task. Agile methodologies...

stress the benefits of working with cross-functional teams to encourage strong communication between business owners, from whom we get requirements for products, and the technical team that produces the product. Collaboration is also very important between members of the technical team. Rather than working in functional silos, Agile methodologies promote frequent and face-to-face communication between all team members.

Two of the four values in the Agile Manifesto highlight the emphasis Agile methodologies place on strong collaboration. "Individuals and interactions over processes and tools" reminds us of the importance of strong and respectful communication. For example, rather than testers and developers using a defect tracking tool to record bugs, they are encouraged to sit and work together to recreate and resolve issues. "Customer collaboration over contract negotiation" reminds us that it's more important for a development team to allow for some flexibility to please a customer, seeking a collaborative solution to issues that might arise during product development, rather than to stick to a rigid contract.

Although collaboration is not limited to those working with Agile methodologies, Agile development practices will thrive in an organization that fosters a collaborative culture rather than a command-and-control type of culture. An Agile mindset is very similar to values practiced in collaborative cultures that encourage consensus-driven decisions, self-managed cross-functional teams and servant leadership.

There are many tools and processes that leaders can use to foster strong collaboration on their teams. Regardless of software methodology being used, any team will benefit from helping foster an environment of healthy communication and collaboration.

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This was last published in August 2015

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How has collaboration helped when using Agile methodologies?
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Being in to testing world, I can say - when world moved from waterfall to Agile - Dev and Test teams moved from competition to collaboration. There have been many benefits with these. But, the biggest help collaboration bought in was lowering the business risk to the projects, by identifying critical defects earlier (and teams not competing for # of defects found by them ) and entire team taking ownership of the quality.
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Collaboration and teamwork are so important, regardless of the development methodology used. Personally I see no reason why a team couldn't be successful in a collaborative waterfall environment.
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If one studies the 9 principles of Agile, one would understand that the success of the agile projects depends on the team - the people and their open communication and collaboration between them. Collaborative culture gives space to each member to think out loud and speak out their minds and works towards finding the best solution. All of this directly and positively impact the chances of success for the projects.
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Collaboration is so essential, regardless of the development methodology that a team uses. It has allowed us to get feedback quickly, and has made us so much more efficient. When we have to communicate with different departments within the company, it is absolutely unbelievable how long it can take to get a simple response! I'm so glad that we can say that's not an issue for us.
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