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Side Hustles and Restructuring

By Cindy Currie | STC Fellow and Kit Brown-Hoekstra | STC Fellow

Ask a Tech Comm Manager is an advice column geared toward answering all those questions you have, but might be uncomfortable asking. We glean the questions from social media, forums, and most importantly, from you, dear reader. If we don’t know an answer, we will interview experts and get information for you. Send us your questions to kitbh.stc@gmail.com or tweet them to @kitcomgenesis or the hashtag #askTCmgr.

We are moving to Agile, and I need to restructure my team. What are some best practices/gotchas?

Many teams are moving to Agile, so it’s time to really understand what that means to both your current job and, possibly, future jobs. You’ll need to educate yourself on Agile or take full advantage of any education available in your company, particularly any sessions that your dev team will be attending. Two key tenets of Agile are 1) frequent releases to deliver value often, and 2) less documentation. You’ll need to work with your development team to assess how the move to Agile can and will impact the deliverables your team produces. What Agile tools is the dev team planning to use? How many scrum teams will your dev team have? What is the focus of each team? What is the duration of their sprints? How much work do they accomplish in a sprint? Are they planning to include writers in their scrum teams? (The answer to this last question should be a resounding “yes!”) And, what are the opportunities for one or more members of your team to become scrum masters? For example, if you prepare online help for a product or offering and have been delivering quarterly, this could change to monthly or every two weeks. It is essential to take initiative and get engaged with dev so that you understand the new requirements for your team. Only then will you be able to even think about how to restructure your team to meet them. Remember that a development team can move to Agile, but that does not mean that there won’t be many aspects of waterfall still in play in the company. So, you’re very likely looking at a hybrid environment for a while—W-Agile! This brings its own set of challenges. More on this in another issue.

I have an opportunity to do some freelance work on the side, but I’m not sure if I should tell my boss. How should I approach this situation?

Most companies have a Conflict of Interest policy to which employees must adhere. Your first step is to locate that policy for your company and understand it. If it’s a clear conflict of interest, do not pursue the opportunity or you 1) risk losing your job if your conflict is discovered, and 2) risk losing your professional reputation if you pursue an opportunity that you know violates the policy. If it seems to you that no conflict of interest exists, then schedule a meeting with your boss to discuss the opportunity. Explain that you have reviewed the company’s conflict of interest policy and that you feel no conflict exists. Allow your boss time to consider both your opportunity and the company’s policy. Your boss might express concern about your focus on your job if you take the side opportunity, so be prepared to explain how you intend to balance the work, when and where you’ll do the other work, and if there is going to be any risk to meeting any and all commitments. This includes any time away from the office you may need to meet with others regarding the side work. Assure your boss that you will not be using any company resources to do the work as well. You must keep your main job and any side work completely separate.

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