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What is the Scrum of Scrums and who is involved? The Scrum of Scrums ceremony can be used when there are multiple teams working on the delivery of a large and complex product.

  • What is the purpose of a Scrum of Scrums?
  • Who are the team members involved in a Scrum of Scrums and how to define the types of ceremonies?

What is the Purpose of a Scrum of Scrums?

The Agile Scrum Framework embraces the use of small teams to deliver focused minimally acceptable features in a time-boxed approach. The scope of the features are such that a team of 5-10 individuals can deliver without the scope becoming overwhelming.

Traditional delivery programs are large initiatives that involve the work of multiple project teams. These teams are organized into work streams with requirements that are lead to the delivery of a larger product.

Programs are inter-related projects designed to deliver larger scale efficiencies to an organization. Likewise, the Scrum of Scrums scales Projects within the Scrum Framework.

Scaled Framework

Minimizing technical debt is a significant benefit of the collaboration that is provided when utilizing Scrum of Scrums. Collaboration minimizes duplicate features and rework of features later in the lifecycle of the product delivery.

While the benefits of a scaled framework using Scrum of Scrums are numerous, there is a danger that the meeting becomes solely a status reporting event. Techniques that focus on the collaboration of the Scrum Team members should be used. This is rather than using the ceremony to rehash were individual tasks stand.  Impediments are the primary focus of the meeting, specifically those that may impact other Scrum Teams.

Scrum of Scrums Team Members

Who are the team members involved in a Scrum of Scrums ceremony? The composition of team members is based on the approach that the organization takes. It is critical to ensure that these ceremonies don’t become mere status meetings. They should be ceremonies that honour the collaborative nature of Agile. The Scrum of Scrums meetings are in addition to the standard Scrum meetings. The Sprint Planning, Daily Stand-up, Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective meetings still occur. There are various approaches that can be used to define the team members who participate in the Scrum of Scrums ceremony:

  • Product owner focused
  • Scrum master focused
  • Scrum team focused.

Agile is not prescriptive in the approach. The focus for the ceremony can be based on one approach or all approaches can be utilized as-needed. There may be multiple types of Scrum of Scrums.

Product Owner Focused

Using the Agile Scrum principles, the Scrum Product Owner from each Scrum Team will work to ensure that features are aligned. They should ensure that the overall goal of the work is aligned with that of the larger product. It is important to ensure that features are not duplicated or conflicting across the Scrum Teams. Utilizing this focus, individual Scrum Team Product Owners attend the Scrum of Scrums ceremony.

A senior Product Owner or Chief Product Owner leads the ceremony. They facilitate collaboration and work to remove or find resources to remove impediments for the individual teams. The Chief Product Owner will be responsible for maintaining the larger feature backlog. In a scaled Scrum approach the Product Owners develop a feature log with the goal of refining this frequently. This supports Scrum Teams working as independently as possible. Features must be well defined as User Stories to support the collaboration during this ceremony.

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Scrum Master Focused

Identification of issues impacting the Scrum Team is one of the primary deliverables that an Agile Scrum Master has when facilitating the daily stand-up ceremonies. With a larger product delivery focus these issues take on greater importance in terms of collaboration with other Scrum Teams. Many organizations hold a Scrum of Scrums that focuses on the challenges that individual scrum masters are encountering in their scrum teams. The idea is not one of providing status updates but, identifying potential solutions with other Scrum Masters who may be impacted by these issues.

Scrum Team Focused

In the true sense of Agile, the collaboration should primarily reside at the level of the individual Scrum Development Team members. A Scrum of Scrums ceremony can be established to bring all of the scrum team members together. This involves the scrum master and development team members in one ceremony. This is generally the same tempo as a daily stand up, just held with less frequency. The frequency will depend on the needs of the Scaled Agile product delivery. The key is that the scrum team members are the focus. Their abilities to collaborate at the larger scaled product level is critical.

Scrum Ceremonies

Some organizations have the team members stand in the middle of the room with the scrum masters surrounding them in an outer configuration. The thought is that by doing this the focus is on the scrum team members to collaborate. They can work together to identify individuals who can support them in resolving issues.

The Scrum of Scrums can be effectively utilized to support the scaling of large Agile deliveries of complex products. It does not have to be one specific type of ceremony. Honoring the principles of the Agile scrum framework provides a scalable model to minimize complexity.

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