Today I was chatting with a colleague about the Digital Systems Team, the team that runs the website, provides a support function to handle requests for fixes, and delivers enhancements. He said that the team manager wants to turn the team into a mini internal agency. I can see why, as the budgeting model for the work the team undertakes is to ask the departments commissioning the work to pay for it.
I think there are issues with thinking of the Digital Systems Team as a mini agency. Firstly, the agency model makes sense if you think from an inside-out, organisational point of view, but if you want to be customer focused, putting user experience and priorities first then it might not be the best way as it could fall into the trap of the departments with the biggest budgets getting what they want. And secondly, with an agency-type approach those in the team will always working on someone else’s success, never their own. They never truly own a project or piece of work. And ownership is important for success.
If I was making changes, I’d start by renaming the team name to make it clear to the members of the team and the rest of the organisation that this team isn’t just there to support other areas of the business, but to lead them. Maybe I’d rename it Digital Product Team, and refocus them, putting them at the centre of digital development and transformation across the organisation.
Maybe the team would become Scrum certified Product Owners, which fits with the team aspirations to work in an agile way, learn skills in Product Management and be called Digital Product Owners. The website would be one of those products, so all the work that gets done now would still get done, but it would widen the scope of the team, give them clearer career aspirations, and most importantly give them ownership of their own success.