What Are the Three Amigos in Agile Development?

Iva Krasteva

Iva Krasteva

Content Creator Expert | Agile Practitioner | Kanban Certified

Table of Contents:

Dive into the dynamic world of Agile with the Three Amigos meeting, your secret weapon to mastering the art of quick, adaptable planning while keeping those big-picture business goals in sharp focus. Let's uncover how the meeting ensures that all aspects of a project - its scope, requirements, and potential challenges - are thoroughly discussed and understood.

What Is the Three Amigos?

The Three Amigos is a meeting held in an Agile product development environment. The core participants are the project's business analyst, developers, and quality assurance analyst. The goal of the Three Amigos meeting is to bring together the three different perspectives on project delivery and bridge any gaps between the interpretations of the business requirements and customer expectations.

This collaborative approach not only fosters better alignment with broader business goals by ensuring that all team members are on the same page but also enhances agility, as it allows for more informed and flexible planning. This balance between immediate adaptability and strategic alignment makes the Three Amigos Meeting a valuable practice for tackling today's complex project environments.

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

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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 raise 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 as defined in the user stories. Their perspective can lead to ideas for 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 is an Agile ceremony that 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 Ceremony?

A lack of understanding of the true goal of the Three Amigos practice can lead to the following difficulties and impose risks on 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.
  • The lack of a strict time frame for the meeting can lead to a diversion from the key discussion topics and can be seen as a burden rather than a constructive opportunity.

What Do You Need to Start a 3 Amigos Meeting?

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

1. Get the Right Attendees. Having the right people at the 3 Amigos meeting means inviting everyone whose function is related to the discussion. The meeting allows for the alignment of more perspectives with 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.

2. Set a Time Frame for the Meeting. The Three Amigos practice's 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. 

3. Prepare Upfront. Another important factor in the ceremony is the participants' good preparation. Familiarizing themselves with the requirements upfront allows for a more constructive discussion. Having a clear and concise agenda helps to get the most results out of the meeting. 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?

The Three Amigos meeting process includes three major attributes.

  • Participants of Three Amigos Process
  • Timelines of Three Amigos Process
  • Format of Three Amigos Process

1. Participants in the 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 the 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 of diluting the discussion, loss of focus, and attendees' engagement.

3. Format of the 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 Three Amigos concept was first described by software development coach and mentor George Dinwiddie in 2014. The goal of the event is to simultaneously examine a development project from the perspectives 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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Iva Krasteva

Iva Krasteva

Content Creator Expert | Agile Practitioner | Kanban Certified

With a background in Intellectual Property, SEO, content writing, and training in Lean, Agile, and Kanban, Iva is an enthusiastic Agile practitioner who embraces collaboration and flexibility every step of the way. Driven by constant learning and knowledge and fascinated by people's creativity.