Scrum Teams – No Part Time!

Last week a attendee of a CSM training was upset that I said that I do not like part time team members in my teams.

She said this is ridiculous. Scrum would be so extremely hard on rules. All the benefits that people got during the last years: part time, working from home, going into the office when you want does not get valued by Scrum.

My answer was: “That is not what I said — I said: I do not like the idea of part time people in my teams. I tried to explain for two days that Scrum-Teams can do what ever they want, as long as they are getting more productive!”

People still believe that being flexible and not committed to the team, means: “I am more important than the team success”, is a useful work ethos.

Is is not! A football team goes together on the field! A surgery team works together, a delta force team works together.

A team based framework (Scrum, Scrum Alliance Websites) has as prerequisite: A Team!

A bunch of individuals who go to work — is not a team, they are only a bunch of workers!


7 responses to “Scrum Teams – No Part Time!

  1. Absolutely agree. I do not want to have part-time team members on my team either. Plus I do not like teams working from different locations, even from home offices, if this can be avoided. That is simply because there is no stronger and direct form of communication than face to face communication. Anything else will keep the team from becoming more productive. Of course, at the end of the day it is the team’s decision – and it depends on the team’s maturity.

  2. I see the point. Too many part-time members will make everything more complicated. And many guys tend to over-optimize their “work-life balance” instead of pushing a product-development forward.
    But what do you do if a great, long-time developer asks to reduce his working time?
    Counter example: in hospitals, lots of nurses work part-time, they are definitely a team. Why does it work there?

  3. Just to clarify one detail:
    A person is always more important than team success. However if there is no team success then this will fire back on every single person in the team. Therefore personal needs and team needs must be balanced.

    And yes, the Scrum process puts a lot of pressure on you and this is something you may not be able to stand in every situation in your life.
    We need parents in our team. We need people who may not be able to work 40h/week. Thats reality, thats what we need to master. And yes – it comes with a price.

  4. Part-time team members are a problem on any project – this is just one of those problems that Scrum typically unhides, but which are not caused by Scrum.
    Regardless of the process you use, it will always be easier to plan and stay on track if your team members are assigned full time to your project. If they are not, you have to live with the consequences.

  5. I worked in a Scrum team when I was working part time and it worked very well. If you take the part time as working time for the whole team and the normal day is “extra” work, if you commit all team members to a work time kernel that suits all (maybe 10-15) that you can have a perfect Scrum team with part time. You can also have home office days if you stick to one day in a week for example, so you can plan with it. of course you lack some flexibility. But I think you don’t have to say no to part time.

  6. I disagree ;). We have a trainee, he is taking classes as well as having internal trainings and it works. It is more effort to integrate him, he is not taking part with 100%, but hey, the guy needs training and we need good people.
    When he is in place, he takes part as everybody else.
    Boris: A team might be in conflict with one of the rules as well: Obey the companies rules (dont know he english one) . And if the rules are to have trainings, just to have well trained people in place w.o. depending on the “market” it has to be obeyed.

  7. “Counter example: in hospitals, lots of nurses work part-time, they are definitely a team. Why does it work there?”
    The reason this works is because people die if they don’t put politics and indifferencies aside when it really matters. Their common purpose is to save lives and you can’t really argue about the sense of urgency there, in a software team it is easier to argue over what’s more important – my quality of life or the customer’s satisfaction, since noone will bleed to death during the discussion.

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