From new-born startups to established enterprises, businesses are constantly trying to catch up with the market pace. In order to do so, they need to receive results faster, reduce waste, increase development efficiency, and introduce changes while minimizing risks. This pursuit has led to a new software engineering practice called the Agile pod delivery model.
What is Agile Pod?
Agile has been in the limelight since the early 2000s, and its adoption rate has grown exponentially over the past decade. It promises fast idea-to-deployment time, making it a primary choice for companies that are looking to make it in the IT service world.
This method places particular emphasis on the strengths of individuals in a team and promotes efficient communication between them, rather than simply providing them with a rigid toolbox of solutions and practices. It also creates an open learning environment, teaching people how to adapt to dynamic changes to deliver high business value and customer satisfaction.
Agile software development is iterative, incremental and evolutionary: large project milestones are broken down into small modules or sprints that produce high-quality deliverables for customers on time and within budget. Each increment involves a cross-functional team seeking to meet specific strategic, creative, and production goals. Such multidisciplinary units are called Agile pods.
“POD” stands for Product Oriented Delivery. This model centers on building small, independent teams of IT specialists with diverse competencies who work collaboratively to deliver a defined product. A full set of complementary skills enables pod units to cover the entire software development lifecycle, from planning and analysis to design, coding, and maintenance.
What is Agile Pod Team Structure?
An Agile pod is a tight-knit group of five to twelve professionals from different disciplines who combine their knowledge, technology stack, and development expertise to build custom products. Each team member is responsible for a single task, but together they generate synergy resulting in faster time-to-market, fewer bugs, and a flexible approach to problem-solving.
To execute pod-based delivery, individual contributors will have to fill these roles:
UI, back-end, and full-stack developers, along with a business analyst, test engineers, and QA specialists comprise the core of the team. They are in charge of planning, executing, and sustaining the development process. The efficiency and competency of the entire pod team are determined by the expertise and capabilities of the engineering unit.
Successful development teams require a certain level of leadership. In the majority of cases, this function is covered by the Product Owner or Delivery Manager. The pod leader is responsible for team management, client communication, running an agile process, and overseeing the delivery of the product over multiple iterations.
A pod in Agile can also include part-time specialists who focus on a specific set of areas that help deliver quality and real value. These can include architects, DevOps engineers, UX designers, a Scrum Master or an Agile Coach. Since their help is not required on a full-scale basis they usually work simultaneously for multiple pods and squads.
Agile POD Team Structure
What Are the Main Benefits of Agile Pods?
In the coming years, the pod methodology is likely to become one of the key enablers of digital transformation. It will help tech companies achieve business value through faster feature development and balancing risks and benefits. Here are just some of the Agile pod advantages:
Unlike conventional team structures, pods are designed and built from the ground up as per product requirements. This implies each squad is customizable and can be tweaked depending on the current project capacity needs, which in turn leads to maximum innovation and streamlined delivery schedule. Moreover, by following the Agile pod delivery model companies can tap into the areas of expertise they are less familiar with, such as AI, Big Data, or MACH architecture.
Adaptable team composition allows clients to create a perfect blend of any specific skills required at various stages of the development lifecycle. This helps to manage the resourcing dynamics like scaling up or reducing team size, so you don’t have to pay for things you don’t use.
If the upcoming stage of the product development requires diminishing the capacity of the existing pod, it can be easily done with only 1 month's notice. In case you need to upgrade your core team without changing its structure, you can swap an engineer you already have on board for someone who has the desired qualities. Within the pod framework, the replacement is done instantly, while in traditional outsourcing models, it usually takes up to 10-12 weeks to find the substitution.
47% of companies name team productivity as one of the most important reasons for adopting Agile within their organization. In this regard, the pod framework can be considered as the promise of a job well done. With each member of the development unit being accountable for their part of the work, the team’s efficiency and the overall quality of the output increase dramatically, bringing forth systematic growth.
When opting for the Agile pod model you get a team of professionals who know how to work together as a single unit. Because pod members are selected in one go, they quickly become attuned to each other’s strengths and work patterns. Plus, this model is best suited for long-term projects (6 months minimum duration of engagement), which not only enables the team to reveal its full potential but also aids in creating a homogeneous integrated workspace.
With so many different skill sets under one roof, engineers develop an appreciation of how different roles interact and view their individual processes from a broader perspective. Such cross-functional awareness not only fosters productive relationships between pod members but also encourages the organization to approach every decision from the team’s perspective.
Traditional outsourcing service models are built on hierarchical principles. That is, the management defines the project scope, prioritizes the tasks, and maintains the overall workflow whilst engineers are just cogs in the product delivery machine. Such an approach causes major bottlenecks for innovative startups and smart releases, where creativity is key to success.
The pod model is a huge relief both to developers and forward-thinking organizations. This team structure allows engineers to quit doing mundane tasks under the constant supervision of the project manager. Moreover, it fosters a sense of unity, resulting in a more engaged and productive development cluster. As the project ownership scope falls into the responsibility of the pod team, clients can rest assured that the end result will be closer to what is expected.
Many companies dread the idea of working with an Agile pod because they consider it difficult to limit the price. The fee is indeed charged per month, or sprint and the exact time-to-market is hard to predict. However, this modality features self-sufficient cross-functional squads geared to build complex software up to 40% faster than traditional outsourcing teams. The development life cycle is significantly shorter as hours are much more efficiently used, resulting in tangible budget savings – sometimes up to 15-20%.
Plus, pod allows you to grow your team with zero infrastructure investment and eliminate the cost of hiring and training internal staff. Add to this the fact that it’s the provider who manages the day-to-day activities of the team members and takes full ownership of delivery risks and you will find that it is a financially rewarding and highly effective work modality.
Compose Your Pod Team with Grid Dynamics
If you consider pod implementation, Grid Dynamics is the perfect partner, fully dedicated to your goals and needs. Our company has been on the market since 2006 building high-load systems and mission-critical applications for Fortune 500 companies. Over the years we developed a robust framework that clearly defines roles, processes, and team composition needed to achieve tangible business results. This methodology laid the foundation for our pod-based model.
Our Pricing Model
Here are some of the benefits of choosing Grid Dynamics as your strategic partner:
- First-class quality. Each engineer is hand-picked by Grid Dynamics to ensure a high-performing team with enhanced product focus.
- Autonomous governance. Our Agile product pod team is a self-sufficient software development unit that can handle the complete release cycle with minimal external oversight.
- Responsibility for the delivery. With Grid Dynamics’ pod team, you can focus on priorities and results rather than project management.
- Easy onboarding. The whole team is selected in one go, which helps to save on project hours, technical resources, and labor costs, increasing pod velocity.
- Free engineer to cover PTO. For each pod structure of eight engineers or more, we provide one additional IT professional free of charge to cover the time off of other team members.
- Fully operational team in weeks, rather than months. You will have a complete Agile pod unit at your disposal within 6-10 weeks.
- Construct a team based on your location preference. It’s up to you whether to have all your team offshore, or you may keep some of the engineers onsite.
FAQs on Implementing Pods in Agile
- What is the difference between an Agile pod and a Scrum team?
The key difference between an Agile pod and a Scrum team is that a pod is a small, cross-functional group that works together long-term, while a Scrum team is formed for a specific project.
- What is Agile pod structure?
A pod typically includes developers, QA, UX, and product experts who work together daily. Pods are structured to have all the expertise required to ensure successful project delivery without dependencies on other teams.
- What is the ideal size of agile pods?
The ideal size for an agile pod is typically 5-7 people, large enough to have all necessary skills but small enough to remain a nimble, collaborative team, and avoid communication overhead.