At Kin + Carta we are driven to create products that make the world work better. Key to this, is understanding that truly great products don't stem from one individual or a group of experts, but from collaboration across different specialisms. Working with our clients in tightly integrated teams, we’ve established key ways of working that break down organisational silos and increase collaboration and efficiency. One of the tools that have helped us deliver this success, reducing bottlenecks and enabling the delivery of software efficiently and quickly is the ‘3 Amigos’. In this blog, we share our insights about implementing the 3 Amigos Agile framework, drawing from our experience working with the Tesco Mobile Apps team for the Tesco’s Grocery Home Shopping mobile app. Find out more about the fantastic work Tesco did on their Grocery Home Shopping app here.
How the 3 Amigos Agile delivery method helps companies to deliver success
What is ‘3 Amigos’ Approach?
The ‘3 Amigos’ is a form of workshop where a small group works together to discuss and refine the user story, with the key outcome being to make any final story changes necessary to get it onto the iteration board. There is no official and unanimous definition of the 3 Amigos Agile delivery method, as depending on team structure and ways of working, different projects may place this session at slightly different points in the workflow.
The 3 Amigos approach is made up of a Product Owner, a Developer and a Tester, although there is often space to expand to 4 or 5 amigos where necessary. A good example of this being Designers, they are often a necessary 4th Amigo and with good cadence and preparation, Designers usually come to about 50% of Amigos meetings
As a Product Owner, there's always the need to know that things are on track and that the people creating the product are on the same page. At a basic level, this means ensuring that what is being planned, matches business stakeholder expectations..
As a Developer, it's important to have clarity on the scope of the project to determine how to engineer the code that needs to be written. It's often likely that defining certain details or refining ACs will determine development choices. .
For Testers, a common problem is to have tasks "thrown over the wall" with the expectation of achieving meaningful testing. Testers always look for context to help define what is to be tested. With this, it becomes significantly easier to have a good idea of how to do the actual testing..
For Designers, there's a need to get feedback from the team and to showcase designs. It may be that further designs are required, or some details of implementation need solidifying via quick conversations with Developers, Testers or POs..
Ingredients for a successful ‘3 Amigos’ Agile session
When building Tesco’s Grocery Home Shopping app, we successfully used the 3 Amigos sessions to enable agreement amongst Testers, Developers and Product Owners at crucial stages, quickly enabling us to start the build. Some essential components which we found key to successful 3 Amigos were:
- Everyone has visibility of the Jira story throughout the session
- Enable everyone to participate in creating and refining Acceptance Criteria and defining the scope of the ticket
- Getting everyone involved in looking at designs
- Ensuring the stories created are granular and meaningful
The success of this meeting is determined by the speed at which things are achieved. 3 people will work more quickly than say 13 people on reaching an agreement and moving things along at a good velocity. Anyone should feel free to stop the discussion of a Story if they feel that there's little progress being made. In fact it will be beneficial, as it makes the next steps beyond the immediate session pretty clear, with one of the Amigos usually taking ownership of the action. As with anything, a level of push-back is to be expected. Common areas of push back include:
- Developers not being able to agree on technology or methodology to implement a solution
- The story is way too big, but making it more granular isn't looking easy
- There's no design, or the design is missing key use cases
- Design choices are available but have not been made yet
- Testers don't know how they will test
- Basic ACs are missing, and writing them is proving very slow.
Getting a Story in a place for 3 Amigos does require some work. But that work is time well spent and will be paid back several times in terms of throughput. The extra preparation is mainly quick conversations, and perhaps a checklist as to the readiness of a Story. They are a much more efficient use of time than traditional grooming sessions, which run the risk of extending for hours, involving a large number of people (perhaps even the whole team).
Benefits of 3 Amigos Approach
There are a number of benefits to using the 3 Amigos Agile delivery approach, one being that it enables teams to be extremely lean and efficient in the way it prepares its stories for development. Completing a successful 3 Amigos session will benefit the team in many other ways including:
- Developing on a known set of requirements
- Nobody is blocked on getting work done
- Edge cases and related stories are scoped early and can be triaged in good time
- Anyone can pick up an Amigo'ed story and start work on it, because the ACs will be meaningful to the whole team (not just the Amigos)