Agile

Scrum of Scrums

What is Scrum of Scrums?
Definition of Scrum of Scrums
Scrum of Scrums extends agile practices to coordinate interdependent teams, aligning priorities, mitigating risks, resolving dependencies, and accelerating value delivery across entire product value streams. The focus is on overall progress, not just isolated group outputs, by applying daily standup techniques and empirical scrum core practices to larger enterprise program or portfolio level management disciplines.

The Scrum of Scrums (SoS) is a scaled agile methodology that extends the principles and practices of Scrum to large teams working on a single product. It is a framework that allows multiple Scrum teams to collaborate and coordinate their efforts in order to deliver a unified product. The SoS approach is particularly useful in large, complex projects where a single Scrum team would be insufficient to handle the workload.

As a part of the larger glossary on Product Management & Operations, this article aims to provide an in-depth understanding of the Scrum of Scrums methodology. It will delve into its definition, explanation, how-tos, and specific examples, providing a comprehensive guide for anyone interested in implementing this approach in their organization.

Overview of Scrum of Scrums

The Scrum of Scrums is a meeting structure used in scaled Scrum to coordinate collaboration across multiple Scrum teams. It involves representatives from each Scrum team coming together to discuss their work, share insights, and align on the overall progress of the project. The main purpose of the SoS meeting is to ensure that all teams are working in harmony towards the common project goal.

The term "Scrum of Scrums" is derived from the rugby term "scrum", which refers to a method of restarting play. In the context of agile project management, it signifies the coming together of multiple teams to tackle a complex project, much like players in a rugby match huddle together to strategize their next move.

Key Participants in a Scrum of Scrums

The key participants in a Scrum of Scrums meeting typically include a representative from each Scrum team, often the Scrum Master or a team lead. These representatives are responsible for communicating their team's progress, any obstacles they're facing, and how their work aligns with the overall project goal.

In addition to the team representatives, the SoS meeting may also include other stakeholders such as the Product Owner, the Chief Scrum Master, or other members of the project management team. Their role is to provide oversight, facilitate communication, and ensure that all teams are aligned and working towards the same objective.

Frequency and Duration of Scrum of Scrums Meetings

The frequency and duration of Scrum of Scrums meetings can vary depending on the size and complexity of the project, as well as the organization's specific needs. However, it is generally recommended that SoS meetings be held daily, similar to the daily Scrum meetings within individual teams.

The duration of a SoS meeting is typically 15 minutes, although it can be extended if necessary. The goal is to keep the meeting short and focused, allowing each team representative to quickly share their updates and discuss any issues or concerns.

Explanation of Scrum of Scrums

The Scrum of Scrums methodology is based on the principles of Scrum, a popular agile project management framework. Scrum emphasizes flexibility, collaboration, and customer satisfaction, and the SoS approach extends these principles to large, multi-team projects.

The SoS methodology is designed to manage the coordination and collaboration between multiple Scrum teams working on a single product. It does this by creating a "Scrum of Scrums" - a meeting where representatives from each team come together to share updates, discuss issues, and align on the overall project goal.

Benefits of Scrum of Scrums

One of the main benefits of the Scrum of Scrums approach is that it allows for effective coordination and collaboration between multiple Scrum teams. By bringing together representatives from each team, the SoS meeting ensures that all teams are aligned and working towards the same goal.

Another benefit of the SoS approach is that it promotes transparency and communication across teams. Each team representative shares their team's progress, any obstacles they're facing, and how their work aligns with the overall project goal. This allows for early identification and resolution of issues, and ensures that all teams are aware of the project's status and direction.

Challenges of Scrum of Scrums

While the Scrum of Scrums approach offers many benefits, it also presents some challenges. One of the main challenges is ensuring effective communication and coordination between teams. With multiple teams working on different aspects of the project, it can be difficult to ensure that everyone is aligned and working towards the same goal.

Another challenge is managing the complexity of the project. Large, multi-team projects can be complex and difficult to manage, and the SoS approach requires careful planning and coordination to ensure success.

How to Implement Scrum of Scrums

Implementing the Scrum of Scrums approach requires careful planning and coordination. The first step is to identify the Scrum teams that will be participating in the SoS meeting. Each team should select a representative who will attend the SoS meeting and communicate their team's progress and any issues they're facing.

Once the teams and representatives have been identified, the next step is to schedule the SoS meetings. These meetings should be held regularly, typically daily, and should be short and focused. The goal is to allow each team representative to quickly share their updates and discuss any issues or concerns.

Setting the Agenda for Scrum of Scrums Meetings

The agenda for a Scrum of Scrums meeting should be clear and focused. It should include updates from each team representative, discussion of any issues or obstacles, and alignment on the overall project goal. The agenda should be flexible enough to accommodate changes and unexpected issues, but structured enough to keep the meeting on track.

One common approach is to structure the agenda around the three questions typically asked in a daily Scrum meeting: What did your team do since the last meeting? What will your team do before the next meeting? Are there any obstacles preventing your team from achieving its goal?

Facilitating Effective Scrum of Scrums Meetings

Facilitating an effective Scrum of Scrums meeting requires strong leadership and communication skills. The facilitator, often the Chief Scrum Master or a project manager, is responsible for ensuring that the meeting stays on track and that all team representatives have an opportunity to share their updates and discuss any issues.

The facilitator should also ensure that the meeting is a safe space for open and honest communication. This includes encouraging participation, managing conflicts, and ensuring that all voices are heard.

Specific Examples of Scrum of Scrums

Many organizations have successfully implemented the Scrum of Scrums approach to manage large, complex projects. For example, a software development company might use the SoS approach to coordinate the efforts of multiple Scrum teams working on different aspects of a large software project.

In this scenario, each Scrum team would have a representative who attends the daily SoS meeting. The representatives would share updates on their team's progress, discuss any obstacles they're facing, and align on the overall project goal. This would ensure that all teams are working in harmony and moving in the same direction.

Scrum of Scrums in a Manufacturing Setting

The Scrum of Scrums approach can also be applied in a manufacturing setting. For example, a manufacturing company might use the SoS approach to coordinate the efforts of multiple teams working on different parts of a large production process.

In this scenario, each team would have a representative who attends the daily SoS meeting. The representatives would share updates on their team's progress, discuss any obstacles they're facing, and align on the overall production goal. This would ensure that all teams are working in harmony and moving in the same direction, ultimately leading to a more efficient and effective production process.

Scrum of Scrums in a Healthcare Setting

The Scrum of Scrums approach can also be beneficial in a healthcare setting. For example, a hospital might use the SoS approach to coordinate the efforts of multiple teams working on different aspects of patient care.

In this scenario, each team would have a representative who attends the daily SoS meeting. The representatives would share updates on their team's progress, discuss any obstacles they're facing, and align on the overall patient care goal. This would ensure that all teams are working in harmony and moving in the same direction, ultimately leading to improved patient outcomes.

Conclusion

The Scrum of Scrums is a powerful tool for managing large, complex projects involving multiple Scrum teams. By promoting transparency, communication, and alignment, the SoS approach can help ensure that all teams are working in harmony towards a common goal.

While the SoS approach does present some challenges, with careful planning and effective facilitation, it can be a highly effective way to manage large, multi-team projects. Whether you're in software development, manufacturing, healthcare, or any other industry, the Scrum of Scrums approach can be a valuable addition to your project management toolkit.