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Newbies when facing scaling issues often wonder What is Scrum of Scrums? Simply put the Scrum of Scrums (SoS) is an effective method to assist organisations in overcoming the challenges of scaling up and working with multiple teams on a complicated project. It helps effectively manage the project and achieve desired outcomes. When working on big projects involving several Scrum Teams, Scrum of Scrums helps coordinate tasks and maintain team cohesion.
According to the 2022 16th Annual State of Agile Report by Digital AI, the Scrum of Scrums framework saw a rise of over 25 per cent in 6 years until 2022. In this blog, you will learn What is Scrum of Scrums and how it is used in Software Development.
Table of Contents
1) Understanding Scrum of Scrums
2) Benefits of using Scrum of Scrums
3) Purpose of Scrum of Scrums
4) Scrum of Scrums Agenda
5) Best practices for Scrum of Scrums
6) Scrum of Scrums scaled structure
7) What is the outcome of a Scrum of Scrums meeting?
The Scrum of Scrums or SoS is a scaling method used for coordinating the work of different teams in large-scale projects. It assists companies in establishing a framework and baseline for collaboration, integration, and communication, which benefits the team in addressing Risk Management, dependency resolution, and productive work delivery.
In contrast to the traditional Scrum methodology, wherein teams operate independently and meet on a daily basis, SoS involves the collaborative working of different teams to streamlinealignment and achieve goals.
Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber, the two pioneers of the Scrum framework, implemented the methodology for the first time in 1996. The idea was inspired by the daily Scrum meetings, in which individual members from every team reported progress, discussed roadblocks, and planned their work for the day. The Agile community recognised the usefulness of the Scrum of Scrums practice in scaling Agile approaches and boosting cross-team communication as it expanded and matured with time.
It has influenced other scaling frameworks, such as Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) and Large Scale Scrum (LeSS). Scrum of Scrums emphasises Agile methodologies' iterative and adaptive character, demonstrating the Agile communities to solve the challenges of scaling Scrum and achieving effective project outcomes in complicated situations.
Implementing the Scrum of Scrums provides various advantages to organisations doing large-scale projects. Let us look at some of the important benefits:
Scrum of Scrums allows teams to identify and address their interdependencies. Teams manage risks, solve issues, and ensure smooth progress towards the project's objectives by constantly discussing and communicating with each other. Establishing regular meetings and effective communication allows for the early detection of possible difficulties.
The Scrum of Scrums is an effective tool for expanding Agile practices because it enables organisations to coordinate work across several teams while preserving agility and adaptability. It offers a scalable approach to Agile Project Management, allowing organisations to maintain team alignment and concentration.
The Scrum of Scrum promotes transparency and information exchange and resolves issues, helping teams to obtain a broader project perspective and make informed decisions. It promotes team collaboration, allowing them to capitalise on each other's talents and expertise. It encourages a culture of communal ownership and accountability, increasing production and efficiency.
The Scrum of Scrums is a governance system that allows teams to self-organise and make collective choices, encouraging autonomy while guaranteeing alignment with the overall project objective. It assists organisations in identifying and addressing Risks early on, minimising the likelihood of project delays or failures.
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The purpose of the Scrum of Scrums is to scale the Scrum practices of various Scrum Teams. This is accomplished by combining the efforts of the smaller individual teams on a joint project. Here are a few more purposes of a Scrum of Scrums meeting:
a) Open communication: The information about the activities and progress status of the smaller Scrum Teams, is conveyed to the larger Scrum group. This helps keep everyone updated and in the loop.
b) Resolution of issues: Problems are promptly addressed and tackled by prioritising and working on issues that are urgent.
c) Team coordination: Overseeing the interaction and collaboration among the smaller individual Scrum Teams streamlines team management.
d) Collective decision-making: A Scrum of Scrums entails that the decision-making takes place in a more collective manner as that would help keep the ball rolling for all teams.
In a Scrum of Scrums structure, each team nominates a representative, commonly called a "Scrum of Scrums Master", to establish a higher-level meeting known as the Scrum of Scrums meeting.
This meeting aims to enable the exchange of information, resolve teams' dependencies, and address issues that hinder the overall project's development. Scrum of Scrums functions on the hierarchical scaling principle, providing a platform for communication and information exchange among different teams.
The Scrum of Scrums Master is a channel for information flow between teams, reporting progress, and catering to any needs. Thus, they play a vital role in facilitating communication, removing roadblocks, and instilling a sense of shared responsibility.
The Scrum of Scrums meeting is conducted similarly to each team's Daily Scrum meeting. Each team's representative should respond to a set of questions at the Scrum of Scrums meeting.
This section involves making a list of the tasks done on the previous day and describing the existence of a backlog, if any. Since it will be very time-consuming for each individual team-member to formulate a detailed run-down of their task list, the focus needs to be on the larger portions of work that occupied their time.
Also included are the other activities that are relevant to the team. Here is how such a rundown would appear:
a) Marketing Manager: “Published a new blog post, status is live.
Scheduled a social promotional task for the month and secured a co-marketing partnership with an organisation.”
b) DevOps: “Conducted Stripe Testing on the integration work and implemented the DataDog service for cloud applications.”
c) Account Executive: “Logged data for 60 emails, 8 calls and 3 bookings for the product, demos have been fixed as well.”
d) Customer Success Manager: “Published two new help articles, held a Quarterly Business Review or QBR with the stakeholder, and conducted four onboarding sessions.”
This section of the Scrum of Scrums agenda entails that each member of the team mentions what they intend to accomplish in the present day.
a) Marketing Manager: “Completion of the newsletter draft, ready to be reviewed. Survey for the annual report to be launched today.”
b) DevOps: “Set up of local tests for the API and deployment of the cache server, which will help reduce build time.”
c) Account Executive: “Conduct four demos with prospects W, X, Y and Z. Also launch the new sales cadence for relationship development with prospects.”
d) Customer Success Manager: “Preparation of deck for the QBR tomorrow. Also a one-to-one session with partner company executive.”
This section of the Scrum of Scrums agenda entails that the four key members of the team, namely the Marketing Manager, DevOps, Account Executive and the Customer Success Manager, make a note of the obstacles and hindrances that are slowing their productivity down.
The following are the best practices for Scrum of Scrums:
a) Define the role of the Scrum of Scrums Master and ensure they have the power and support they need to encourage inter-team communication.
b) Ensure the Scrum of Scrums meetings are held regularly, timed, and focus on essential aspects.
c) Encourage team representatives to communicate openly and transparently, promoting a trusting and collaborative environment.
d) Use visual management tools, such as shared boards or virtual platforms, to keep track of team dependencies, progress, and roadblocks.
e) Continuously assess and modify the Scrum of Scrums process based on feedback and tailor it to your organisation's needs.
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Since Scrum of Scrums is basically a Scaled Agile framework offering Product Owners with a means to connect many smaller teams, a collaborative effort is required for them to deliver complex product solutions.
The new Scrum of Scrums Team implements very similar practices as the smaller individual Scrum Teams. They also participate in the same programs, and is assigned the same roles as a Scrum Team. Their goal is to deliver a complete and integrated product that is potentially shippable at the commencement of every Sprint. For example, consider the role of the Chief Product Owner. Their responsibility is to oversee their team and provide assistance to keep them aligned with the product’s vision. It is not mandatory for the Chief Product Owner’s role to be performed by a dedicated employee. It should be ensured that the role should be designated the same responsibilities as a Product Owner.
Moreover, another important role in the newly formed Scrum of Scrums Team, is that of the Scrum of Scrums Master. This individual needs to concentrate on the team’s progress and any backlogs that are visible to other Scrum Teams. This measure facilitates the prioritisation and elimination of the backlog buffer, improving the overall effectiveness of the Scrum of Scrum Team on a continuous basis.
More importantly, these new roles should utilise the 15 minutes Scrum meeting scheduled everyday as an opportunity to check team alignments, and to improve on and resolve backlog buffers.
Each team should have a representative or spokesperson who can speak up for the team regarding the backlog buffer, and the various Risks associated with the Sprint goal. The team representative must also include the discussion around the team dependencies along with the improvements that can be leveraged by all teams.
The Scrum of Scrums meeting establishes clear goals for all teams to follow to achieve their designated goal.
The team will be in a significantly better position to identify a precise and straight forward rundown for the day.
The team can also identify any possible hindrances that may compromise their progress to achieving their Sprint goal. After the meeting has commenced, the team can proceed to pay attention to the product backlog in further detail and devise solutions to achieve their end result with better efficiency.
These measures result in fostering a healthier environment throughout the team for the entire duration of the project. A Scrum of Scrums meeting essentially brings to light, the team’s accomplishments, the roadblocks they faced, and their future tasks for better accountability. Another important facet of a Scrum of Scrums meeting, is to find out if there are any outputs from a team’s future Sprints that may interfere with the outputs of another team.
Moreover, since Scrum of Scrums is a collaborative effort of individual Scrum Teams, any potential obstacles or obstructions caused by other teams should not go unnoticed as these could severely affect the productivity and the trust and morale of all teams collectively.
The Scrum of Scrums is an effective framework for organising activities, encouraging collaboration, and ensuring project success. Using this technique, organisations may traverse the complexity of Agile scaling, address dependencies, and provide high-quality work increments. The Scrum of Scrums is a flexible framework that can be customised and tailored to match the individual needs of each project rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. Now that you’ve read this far, you now know the answer to “What is Scrum of Scrums?” You’ll now be better equipped to handle upscaling processes for complex projects.
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