Joining an existing team can be daunting. There is much to learn about the team, the software, the industry, and the unspoken norms. What is the team working on right now? What are the biggest hurdles to overcome right now? How does the team like to use their calendars, Slack, and Zoom?
While my goal when ramping into an existing team is to listen and observe, asking questions goes a long way too. Here are questions I’ve used to get to the heart of what matters.
Patterns & Practices
- How is the team doing with pairing on work and releases?
- How is collaboration between design and development?
- What patterns are holding the team back?
- What signals indicate a healthy team environment?
- Can team members bring up improvements?
- Can team members safely escalate risks?
- How does the team use email, Zoom, Slack, something else?
- When does something warrant a meeting, and are the right people participating?
Vision & Roadmap
- Is the high level vision understood by the team?
- How often is the roadmap revisited/reviewed?
- Is it clear how today’s work connects to the vision?
Discovery & Requirements
- Is work well defined? Do we know what good looks like when we start?
- How many sprints worth of work has the team planned today?
- What percentage of our completed work is re-work due to requirements changing?
- How is the voice of the customer integrated into the process?
- Are designs validated with end users?
- Is development and business closely involved in the design iteration process?
- Who breaks down business requirements to user stories?
- Are stories broken into slices of work that can be estimated and tested, and that independently create value?
- Have you defined stories enough to discuss them in refinement sessions?
- Does work often carry over sprint to sprint?
- Does the team estimate bugs?
- What percentage of our sprint work is bugs?
- How strong is our test suite? (unit testing and end to end testing)
- Who performs end to end testing of delivered work?
- How often is the team releasing code?
- Is the release process meeting the teams needs? (automated, etc.)
These questions have helped me see how I can contribute as a delivery lead. I hope this guide helps you the next time you’re a newcomer.