The contrite answer is that they’re as large as they need to be, and the contrite agile answer is that they’re as small as they can be. Now that we’ve gotten the contrite answers out of the way, how large are agile teams in practice?
In November of 2016 we ran the 2016 Agility at Scale survey. It was targeted at people who were currently working on agile teams, or who had recently worked on agile teams, and we asked them straightforward questions around the size of the team, how distributed it was, what complexities they faced, an so on. The following graph summarizes the responses around team size.
This year’s survey found that roughly half (48%) of agile teams are more than 10 people in size and one-quarter are more than 20 people in size. These findings are similar to what we’ve found in the past with both the 2012 Agility at Scale survey and the 2009 Agility at Scale survey.
In short, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do agile with a large team because others are clearly doing so in practice. Yes, large team agile is different than small team agile, which is one of the reasons why you need to take a pragmatic, context-sensitive approach to agile solution delivery. The Disciplined Agile (DA) toolkit provides the foundation from which to scale your approach to solution delivery to address a range of scaling factors, including team size. In fact, you may find our article around large agile teams to be of interest.
- Can you outsource and still be agile?
- Do agile teams take on hard problems?
- How “whole” are agile teams in practice?
- Do agile teams face regulatory compliance?
- How geographically distributed are agile teams in practice?