Microspeak: v-team

People who don't work at Microsoft but who are aware of its jargon might encounter the term v-team and guess that it's a team consisting of vendors, because the Microspeak term v-dash is used to refer to vendors (whose email addresses begin with v-).

It's a good guess, but in this case, it's wrong.

Tasks at Microsoft typically map to organizational boundaries. (Organizational boundaries having been chosen so that tasks fall nicely within them.) A memory management feature will be handled by the memory management team. A user interface feature will be handled by the user interface team. But there are some tasks that span teams, and for those cases, Microsoft managers like to create a virtual team, usually abbreviated v-team and pronounced vee team. (Not to be confused with the Virtualization Team.)

The defining characteristic of a v-team is that the members of the v-team come from different parts of the organization. For example, you might have Alice from the Power Management team, Bob from the User Interface team, and Charlie from the Networking team working together to design cloud-based notifications. These people do not share the same immediate manager, but for the purpose of this feature, they've been plucked out of the tree and formed into a self-organizing team to solve a particular problem.

Loren Ipsum

These virtual teams are formed as needed and conversely are disbanded when no longer needed. Some may be short-lived, like a virtual team to review all the sample apps for the //build conference, which disbands once review is complete. Others may last for the duration of the project, like a virtual team to debug performance issues.

Comments (15)
  1. JK says:

    Do v-teams ever get so long lived they become fully fledged teams?

  2. Mike Caron says:

    I sincerely hope that the person managing the virtual team is referred to as the hypervisor. :)

  3. Morty says:

    "might encounter the term v-team and guess that it's a team consisting of vendors"

    Well that was certainly not the first thing that came to mind, but I think this is a family blog…

  4. not important says:

    Hahaha – I thought v-team means a team made only of VPs (vice presidents). I had no idea it means a  virtual team.

  5. AC says:

    When the deliverable of such a team is a feature, who owns maintenance of it once the team disbands?  In every place I've worked that uses temporary "feature" teams, the issue of who gets saddled with maintenance or phoned when the feature explodes is one that never seems to get addressed.  Does the v-team reform to maintain the feature as needed, or does one of the teams that donated a member get tagged?

  6. Matt says:

    @AC: It's whoever owns the feature. For example, if the feature is an improvement to the shell, it would be the shell team.

    Usually however the whole point of the v-teams is that their function isn't developing a new product or feature that needs to be maintained (otherwise you'd stand up a "real" team to do it). They are used to build products or features that are "one off" (like the Browser Choice app – remember that?) or to "improve" features that will continue to be owned by the feature team. For example, security reviews and performance reviews will often be made up of v-teams. When they leave, the product continues to be owned by the developer team that made it.

    [In the case of a v-team formed to develop a feature, the actual feature work belongs to the respective teams. (In the example I gave, the power management team would still be responsible for the power management aspects of cloud-based notifications, the user interface team would be responsible for the user interface part, and the networking team would be responsible for the networking part.) If the feature needs to be redesigned, then a new v-team is formed to redesign it. -Raymond]
  7. dave says:

    For example, you might have Alice from the Power Management team, Bob from the User Interface team, (…)

    Alice and Bob no longer work on the cryptography team?

  8. JM says:

    @dave: I heard they left after Eve joined. Something about violations of trust.

    Meanwhile, if you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire a v-team.

  9. Riataman says:

    Totally offtopic, but it was a long while since I saw someone hyphenating their text!

  10. AP2 says:

    @Riataman: the blog engine has included the new "hyphens" CSS3 property. If you zoom the text, you'll see that it automatically updates the hyphenization (is this a word?).

  11. Jargon term invented for the sake of it.  These are just "Project Teams" FFS.  They aren't virtual, they are real.

  12. Gabe says:

    Jolyon: I think "Project Team" was already taken: blogs.office.com/…/project

  13. Ben Cooke says:

    The timing for this post is perfect since just today I was suggesting to my VP Engineering that we should form a team like this and I didn't have a good word to use to describe it!

  14. Isn't that called agile development? It's used in a wide variety of companies.

  15. Lex Mitchell says:

    @Dejan021 Agile development comes in many flavours but typically agile methodologies will advocate a fixed team (of cross disciplined or specialised individuals as appropriate) in order to better track velocity or flow over a period of time. The thought being that groups of individuals take time to effectively communicate, work together, correctly estimate their progress as well as implicit setup and teardown costs to short term teams.

    That doesn't mean it's a bad idea, but it's not something associated with typical agile development processes. Plus if a 'V-Team' ran for a long term it could in itself follow such an agile methodology (but the fact it is virtual is irrelevant).

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