How To Run A Successful 3 Amigos Session

Alex Newnham
By Alex Newnham under Insights 10 May 2019

At TAB we are driven to create products that make the world work better. Key to this, is understanding that truly great products don't stem from one individual or a group of experts, but from collaboration across different specialisms. Working with our clients in tightly integrated teams, we’ve established key ways of working that break down organisational silos and increase collaboration and efficiency. One of the tools that have helped us deliver this success, reducing bottlenecks and enabling the delivery of software efficiently and quickly is the ‘3 Amigos’. In this blog, we share our insights about implementing the 3 Amigos framework, drawing from our experience working with the Tesco Mobile Apps team for the Tesco’s Grocery Home Shopping mobile app. Find out more about the fantastic work Tesco did on their Grocery Home Shopping app here

What is ‘3 Amigos’?

The ‘3 Amigos’ is a form of workshop where a small group works together to discuss and refine the user story, with the key outcome being to make any final story changes necessary to get it onto the iteration board. There is no official and unanimous definition of the 3 Amigos, as depending on team structure and ways of working, different projects may place this session at slightly different points in the workflow.

The 3 Amigos is made up of a Product Owner, a Developer and a Tester, although there is often space to expand to 4 or 5 amigos where necessary. A good example of this being Designers, they are often a necessary 4th Amigo and with good cadence and preparation, Designers usually come to about 50% of Amigos meetings.

 

As a Product Owner, there's always the need to know that things are on track and that the people creating the product are on the same page. At a basic level, this means ensuring that what is being planned, matches business stakeholder expectations.

As a Developer, it's important to have clarity on the scope of the project to determine how to engineer the code that needs to be written. It's often likely that defining certain details or refining ACs will determine development choices.

For Testers, a common problem is to have tasks "thrown over the wall" with the expectation of achieving meaningful testing. Testers always look for context to help define what is to be tested. With this, it becomes significantly easier to have a good idea of how to do the actual testing.

For Designers, there's a need to get feedback from the team and to showcase designs. It may be that further designs are required, or some details of implementation need solidifying via quick conversations with Developers, Testers or POs.

Ingredients for a successful ‘3 Amigos’

When building Tesco’s Grocery Home Shopping app, we successfully used the 3 Amigos sessions to enable agreement amongst Testers, Developers and Product Owners at crucial stages, quickly enabling us to start the build. Some essential components which we found key to successful 3 Amigos were:

 



The success of this meeting is determined by the speed at which things are achieved.  3 people will work more quickly than say 13 people on reaching an agreement and moving things along at a good velocity. Anyone should feel free to stop the discussion of a Story if they feel that there's little progress being made. In fact it will be beneficial, as it makes the next steps beyond the immediate session pretty clear, with one of the Amigos usually taking ownership of the action. As with anything, a level of push-back is to be expected. Common areas of push back include: 

 

 

Getting a Story in a place for 3 Amigos does require some work. But that work is time well spent and will be paid back several times in terms of throughput. The extra preparation is mainly quick conversations, and perhaps a checklist as to the readiness of a Story. They are a much more efficient use of time than traditional grooming sessions, which run the risk of extending for hours, involving a large number of people (perhaps even the whole team). 

Benefits of 3 Amigos

There are a number of benefits to using the 3 Amigos, one being that it enables teams to be extremely lean and efficient in the way it prepares its stories for development. Completing a successful 3 Amigos session will benefit the team in many other ways including: