The Three Amigos in Agile

The Three Amigos refers to a meeting held in an Agile product development environment. The core participants in the meeting are the project’s business analyst, developers, and quality assurance analyst. The goal of the Three Amigos meeting is to bring the three different perspectives in project delivery and bridge any gaps between the interpretations of the business requirements and customer expectations. This results in clarity and agreement on the projects’ business specifications before its development. 

Agile software development is founded on cross-functional teams, collaboration, evolutionary improvement, adaptability as well as detailed requirements discovery. The Three Amigos meeting approach plays an important role in the Agile requirements discovery process by underlining the relationships and dynamics between the team members.

What are the roles of the 3 Amigos?

The three roles of the Three Amigos meeting are the business analyst, developer, and quality assurance analyst.

1. Business Analyst

The business analyst’s role is to bring upfront the customer requirements and expectations so that everyone on the team is aware of them. Business analysts gather team members’ feedback and use that information to create a comprehensive user story. In Agile project management, they can use the “Definition of Done” concept, for instance, to define the user expectations. Having a clear vision of what should be achieved reduces waste such as the need for reworks, and helps accelerate the delivery of value at each iteration. 

2. Developers

The role of the developer or a team of developers in the Three Amigos meeting is to discuss potential solutions or features that meet the user requirements and project expectations. Their perspective can lead to ideas of new features, improvement of existing services, etc. Another point of discussion is any concerns and unclarities about the project itself.

3. Tester

The quality assurance analyst answers the question: “Can we test if the provided solution meets the agreed upon quality criteria?”. In other words, their perspective is important for designing acceptance criteria that would ensure the agreed upon high-quality standards are satisfied. The Three Amigos ceremony provides an opportunity to clarify any misconceptions about the project’s expectations.

What are the Benefits of the Three Amigos Approach?

The three key benefits of holding the Three Amigos meeting are listed below.

  • Establishes a clear understanding of a project’s business expectations.
  • Ensures development on agreed upon set of project requirements.
  • Reduces risks and assumptions about project development.

What are the Limitations of the Three Amigos Approach?

Lack of understanding of the true goal of the Three Amigos practice can lead to the following difficulties and imposing risk to the project delivery.

  • By excluding relevant participants from the Three Amigos meeting, valuable perspectives may not be considered.
  • By extending the Three Amigos meetup to the entire team and imposing it as a regular event, key perspectives can easily go unnoticed.
  • Lack of a strict time frame for the meeting can lead to diversion from the key discussion topics and can be seen as a burden rather than a constructive opportunity.

How to Conduct a 3 Amigos Meeting?

The key prerequisites to conducting a productive Three Amogos meeting include having the right people to attend, a set time frame for the meeting, and everyone being prepared to actively participate. 

Having the right people on the 3 Amigos meeting means inviting everyone whose function is related to the discussion. The meeting allows to align more perspectives with the common goals and brings a shared understanding. For instance, customer-facing teams can share valuable insights about clients’ expectations. Synchronization with that sort of feedback before development is critical for the entire project’s success.

The Three Amigos practice limited time frame is critical for its efficiency. A structured and tight schedule keeps everyone focused and present. The optimal meeting time varies between 30 – 45 minutes and it should not exceed one hour. 

Another important factor of the ceremony is attributed to the good preparation of the participants. Getting familiar with the requirements upfront allows for a more constructive discussion. Having a clear and concise agenda of the meeting helps to get the most results out of it. Good preparation for a Three Amigos meetup can refer to having a list of documented and agreed upon business requirements, developed test scenarios, or a common agreement on the projects to be developed next.

When should you schedule the 3 Amigos Meeting?

Industry experience shows that the Three Amigos meeting is the most effective when scheduled well before development starts. As discussed, the goal of the meeting is to get everyone on the same page regarding the requirements, testing, and development before the actual work can begin. Sometimes, two or three meetings may be required before the core goals of the project are crystal clear and agreed upon. When there are misconceptions about what the customer’s requirements are, how we’re going to track progress, or what our definition of “done” would be, then it’s time to conduct a 3 Amigos meeting.

What is the Three Amigos Process and Meeting?

The Three Amigos meeting process includes three major attributes.

  1. Participants of Three Amigos Process
  2. Timelines of Three Amigos Process
  3. Format of Three Amigos Process

1. Participants of Three Amigos Process

The participants in the 3 Amogos process are the business analyst or product owner, developer, and quality assurance analyst. More people can be involved in the meeting given that their perspectives and input are related to the discussion. It’s important that the participants share business, development, and testing considerations and arrive at a common understanding.

2. Timelines of Three Amigos Process

The Three Amigos meeting is normally held up to a month (one or two iterations) prior to development. It is a spontaneous event and it should have a limited duration of up to one hour. The optimal duration of the Three Amigos meeting approach is between 30-45 minutes. Extending the meeting over one hour imposes a possibility to dilute the discussion, lose focus, and attendees’ engagement.

3. Format of Three Amigos Process

  • Step 1: Business Analyst presents the requirements specifications to the attendees.
  • Step 2: Attendees review the business requirements and provide feedback documented by the Business Analyst.
  • Step 3: Explore all questions, comments, and viewpoints to reach an understanding.
  • Step 4: Test scenarios are presented in a well-documented format.
  • Step 5: Attendees review the test scenarios and provide feedback implemented by the Quality Assurance Analyst.
  • Step 6: All the action items are discussed and assigned to the relevant teams.

What is the History and Origin of the Three Amigos Approach?

The concept of the Three Amigos is first described by software development coach and mentor George Dinwiddie in 2014. The goal of the event is to look at a development project from different perspectives at the same time, namely that of the business analyst, developer, and test analyst. The meeting is named Three Amigos but it is not limited to that number of attendees. Representatives of client-facing teams or designers who can contribute to the discussion should also participate.

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