What is Scrum of Scrums?
The Scrum of Scrums is a fundamental and crucial concept in the development world. It speaks to the importance of teamwork within multiple Scrum teams in large organizations.
The agile methodology ensures that an agile team consists of five to ten people. While there are scrum teams bigger than that, most teams fall within that amount.
A scrum of scrums happens when multiple scrum teams meet so that one scrum team doesn’t become too large.
In this article, we dive into what Scrum of Scrums is, why you need it, and the benefits of its use in Agile development.
What is Scrum of Scrums?
The Scrum of Scrums is a technical Scrum scaling technique that helps bring together groups of twelve people or more. Each group consists of agile teams of 5-10 people each.
Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber are responsible for the introduction of Scrum of Scrums under IDX Systems, now GE Healthcare. It was their idea to use this concept to scale scattered scrum teams into enterprise-level scrum teams.
Every team designates a working ambassador who participates in daily meetings with ambassadors of other teams. This particular meeting is the Scrum of Scrums.
This concept requires the teams to coordinate inter-team work, share developments, and provide assistance to each other.
In usual practice, the development team chooses the team member that attends the Scrum of Scrums. The representing person is interchangeable, depending on what the rest of the team thinks is best. That means the Scrum Master doesn’t always become the ambassador in the scrum meeting.
Since individual Scrum teams attend Scrum of Scrums, each team decides if they want to send more than one person. Different scrum teams have various ways of approaching Scrum of Scrums meetings, depending on each one’s needs. Therefore, it’s common to find Scrum Masters in a Scrum of Scrums.
In any case, it’s important to have a development team member in the daily scrum meetings.
Conducting a Scrum of Scrums requires the input of all individual teams. They decide what approach to take and what works best for cross-team collaboration and the business.
Since all teams participate, the Scrum of Scrums meeting doesn’t happen every day. Most scrum teams work on daily regular scrum meetings and meet once a week for the Scrum of Scrums.
Scrum of Scrums Agenda
The standard questions you find in a Scrum of Scrums agenda are as follows:
- What do you plan on doing today?
- What tasks did you complete yesterday?
- Did you face any obstacles or impediments that slowed you down?
Similar to how a daily Scrum meeting works, multiple teams have 15 minutes to provide updates. The participants work to provide the following answers:
- Team contributions since the last meeting and how they affect other teams.
- Anything you plan on doing that affects other teams before the next meta Scrum.
- Any current problems that are worth addressing.
However, this is a rough guide. Large organizations with lots of sprint goals have longer timeboxes for each team representative attending the status meeting. There are additional agendas like managing the Scrum backlog, discussing Scrum managerial practices, and finding a working software for agile project management.
Why Scrum of Scrums Matters To Agile Teams
If you have several Scrum teams working on a project, it’s important to coordinate efforts. Cross-team synchronization helps each agile team improve team productivity. The Scrum methodology emphasizes the importance of collaboration and coordination. Therefore, scaling agile teams requires Scrum of Scrums to maintain their effectiveness.
Since the scrum representative and Scrum Master/product owner in the Scrum of Scrums answer similar questions, it also improves problem-solving and decision-making.
Any single team facing an issue must enlist the help of a large team even if they’re working on a separate business unit. Each team’s work adds to the sprint goal whether they’re working on the same project or not.
Maintaining team composition and each team’s role helps later on when you work on new projects under different directives.
The Scrum of Scrums serves to help keep deliverables on track and allow the teams to remain in check.
Scrums of Scrums Benefits
Whether your business has multiple product lines and business units or a single product, large Agile companies stand to benefit from a Scrum of Scrums. As a managerial practice, Scrum of Scrum does the following:
- Helps bigger companies make use of the Scrum framework with greater efficiency.
- Improves team collaboration, representation, and coordination.
- Ensures all the teams working remain informed.
- Brings together multiple Scrum teams.
- Improves consensus among various teams.
- Allows teams to deal with new developments together.
- Helps maintain each team’s vision and role.
- Allows teams to catalyze problem-solving by discussing issues, problems, and impediments.
Scrum of Scrums Best Practices
Conducting a productive scrum of scrums to achieve better status meetings is possible using a few best practices. These include:
- Selecting the right people for the meeting. That means the development teams need to choose professionals who have the right communication skills to represent the team. In cases where teams send their Scrum Masters, it’s important that they know everything the team accomplished and how it impacts other teams.
- Prioritize the points that matter most to your team and share them in the meeting. You must remember the discussions of the last Scrum and use them as a baseline to provide details on everything your team achieved since then.
- Always keep some time in each meeting to solve problems based on priority levels.
- Establish the frequency and time of the meetings and stick to it unless there are unique developments.
- Track the progress of each Scrum and find a way to improve your meetings the next time one comes around.
- It’s better for teams to provide updates that affect other teams so it’s easier to uncover issues and resolve them.
- Encourage an environment of transparency between teams by creating a feeling of collective agreement.
- Report and relay the most important takeaways back to your agile teams.
Scrum of Scrums: Key Takeaways
A Scrum of Scrums is a meeting between individual scrum teams. While enterprise-level companies have them daily, most large Agile companies have weekly Scrum of Scrums.
There’s no specification on who comes to represent each team since each team pushes an ambassador forward. Most meetings tend to last between 15 minutes and an hour. However, some meetings end up discussing issues and impediments, making the meetings even longer.
The key is for large Agile companies to know how to best take advantage of this meeting to ensure that all teams are on the same page, working together to push the organization’s goals forward.