A Team represents a cross-functional squad, or any other group of users who collectively own Stories, Epics, and Iterations. To learn more about what Teams are, first, read Teams in Shortcut.
This article covers the best practices that will help your organization use Teams successfully. Teams are the central organizing force that helps you represent the way your people collaborate in your organization and connect to other entities in Shortcut. This means it’s important to set them up in a way that will lead to success now while also planning for the future.
The term team can be a bit nebulous but Teams in Shortcut are designed in a way that will set you up for success no matter your organization structure. We understand there isn’t a one size fits all approach to using Shortcut, that being said, we are sharing best practices around Team setup that lead the majority of organizational structures to success in organization, collaboration, and as you scale.
Team size and number of Teams
When setting up Teams the first question we get is how big should a Team be, which is really also asking how we are defining a Team. We often throw around the term two-pizza team, meaning you can feed the group with two pizzas. But how big are the pizzas you might be asking, really this means roughly 8-12 people. Another great way to think about Teams is as a squad, a cross-functional group working together towards a common goal. The good news is Teams was designed to work well for these sized squads because we found this is already a really common team size and way of working across organizations. So likely this will sound right to you.
- Team type 1: Cross-Functional Squad
- These Teams are made up of some combination of design, engineering, and product. Teams such as Growth, Core, or Integrations.
- This is what the majority of your Teams will be.
- Team type 2: Functional Squad
- These Teams would be based more on the functional group such as Product or Engineering
- Example: A Product Team with all the Product Managers and this Team is used to manage product backlog.
- While these functional teams do have use cases they will be less commonly used. When you think of the large size an engineering team can be even at a medium-sized organization, this alone wouldn’t be a good structure for organization.
It is important to note that a user can be a member of more than one Team.
Number of Teams
Now that we know how many people and what group of people should make up Teams, the next step is how many Teams do you need. This is going to really depend on your company size and structure. As your company grows rather than your Team size growing to huge numbers, most companies will instead increase the number of Teams. This means that likely the bigger your company the more Teams you will have.
Note: Teams and Workflows are limited based on your payment plan. This is designed to allow you to grow your business with Shortcut.
Restructure Teams as Your Organization Scales
The beauty of Shortcut being organized by Teams is it is built to scale. As your company grows simply continue to match your squad structure to your Team structure in Shortcut. This may look like increasing the number of Teams, increasing the size of your Teams, or a combination of both.
Now it is important to note that there can be too many Teams and when this happens it is often because the use case has ventured outside of the squad model. We have heard of some funny Teams that don’t make sense like Friday Lunch Team or a bunch of Teams with only one user. Too many Teams make it hard to organize and view progress.
We recommend that as you do quarterly or yearly planning take this time to ensure that your company goals and the squads working towards them continue to be represented in your Team structure in Shortcut.
How to Use Teams in Sprints
For organizations that use sprints, Teams and Iterations (how Shortcut does sprints) will be a key part of your Shortcut success. You can learn more about Iterations here, but let’s talk specifically about how Teams fit in. As the introduction mentioned, Teams are your organizing force. This is very true with Iterations, here, each Story in a Sprint will be associated with a Team. Then from the Iterations page, you can quickly sort the view by Team/s. This makes it easy to run Team meetings and for leadership or users on more than one team to quickly jump between viewing what each Team is working on during each sprint.
Connecting Teams and Workflows
The Team is the squad and the Workflow is the steps your work goes through from Unstarted to Done (or whatever customized states you create). Check out Teams <> Workflows to understand the Teams and Workflow relationship. You need both Teams and Workflows so when you are setting up Teams, make sure you set up your necessary Workflows as well. You might have a Workflow for each Team or numerous Workflows for one Team. It is a many-to-many relationship so you have the flexibility to set this up to fit your needs.
Workflows should represent the way your teams and departments work. Just as with Teams, your Workflow set up will likely be based around the process of your cross-functional squad (i.e. the Growth Team would have a Growth Workflow) or around functional groups (i.e. the Growth Team would have Backend, Product, and Design Workflows). You will likely have both!
Your Workflows can also grow and change as your company scales. You may find many Teams use one Workflow when you start but as you scale squads diversify, for example, you add a marketing role onto your Team. This person doesn’t have to work within the existing Workflow, but can create a new Workflow that is customized for their work.
Reporting on Team
Reporting is important for planning, supporting teams, and growing your business. Since your work in Shortcut will be organized by Teams, you are able to filter any report by Team, zooming in on each squad.
- Time Spent in Workflow State filtered by Team
- Here you could look for bottlenecks at certain Workflow States and identify Teams that don’t have this issue. Now you have an opportunity to improve processes by allowing squads to learn from each other.
- Velocity Chart filtered by Team
- Track and understand each Team's historical average output, increasing forecast accuracy.
View Epics and Milestones by Team
Epics and Milestones allow larger projects to be tracked and viewed across your organization. Viewing each page by Team allows the members of that Team as well and anyone in the Workspace to quickly see progress toward company initiatives and whether projects are on track.