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A Comprehensive Guide to Scrum of Scrums

Scrum of Scrums refers to a customer and project management technique that utilizes concurrent development rather than serial. It provides a lightweight way to manage the interactions between several scrum teams.

Here’s when the Scrum of Scrums technique comes to play. Scrum of Scrums is the process of managing multiple Scrum-based projects of any size as an integrated and unified business process. As Scrum is one of the most popular agile frameworks, it requires a unique set of capabilities and a shift in thinking for everyone involved.

Mitul Makadia, Founder & CEO, walks us through the challenges he faced, how the business benefited from scaling Agile, and how important is the scrum master in making Agile a success at the organizational level.

This guide will study the working, structure, and benefits of a scrum of scrum practices in detail to help you scale and integrate your work with multiple Scrum teams working on the same project.

History of Scrum of Scrums(SoS)

The Scrum of Scrums framework was first introduced by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber in 1996 while operating at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The original purpose of this framework was to coordinate the activities of eight business units with multiple product lines per business unit in a single development cycle.

Sutherland and Schwaber found that having separate scrum teams for each business unit impeded workflow within and across business units, so they experimented. They gathered all eight product teams into a single room. They had their work together by forming a meta-team or “Scrum of Scrums” to create an environment where independent teams could synchronize their efforts more efficiently.

Later, in 2001, Sutherland published this experience under the title “Agile Can Scale: Inventing and Reinventing SCRUM in Five Companies,” which mentioned Scrum of Scrum for the first time.

What is Scrum of Scrums?

Scrum of Scrums is designed to be a lightweight solution for scaling agile methods. The main benefit of the Scrum of Scrums' approach is to provide a way to enhance communication by connecting people from different Scrum teams who need to collaborate and coordinate with each other.

The essential Scrum of Scrums’ purpose is that multiple teams are working on a single product, and there needs to be a way for all of these teams to communicate with each other.

It’s particularly relevant for organizations with teams across geographies and time zones because it allows teams to synchronize their work, communicate any issues or delays, and coordinate planning activities.

According to the definition of Jeff Sutherland, “Scrum of scrums as I have used it is responsible for delivering the working software of all teams to the Definition of Done at the end of the Sprint, or for releases during the sprint.”

A Scrum of Scrums (SoS) is a meeting between two sprints, where the development team discusses their inter-team dependencies. The scaled agile framework is run by the development team members, who are best positioned to discuss inter-team dependencies and find a solution.

Scrum of Scrums helps deploy and deliver complex products by adapting transparency and inspection at a large scale. It enables scrum teams to work towards common goals and complete the project by aligning.

Participants present at the Scrum of Scrums answer similar questions like daily Scrum. For instance:

  • What has been the team’s progress since we last met?
  • What problems are the team facing, and can the other teams resolve them?
  • What tasks will the team carry out before the next meet?

There are various techniques by which you can implement the Scrum of Scrums. It could be a meeting within the team or with all teams. Therefore, the scrum of scrum definition aims to get all teams in sync with each other so that any dependencies between teams have been identified and resolved.

How does SOS work?

Scrum of Scrums divides a large team into smaller scrum teams or subteams. Each subteam will have its daily standups, sprint planning sessions, and other events as part of a Scrum of Scrums meetings.

The basic idea is to give each subteam the autonomy to plan their work independently while still coordinating with the rest of the team — just as independent teams do in a traditional scrum. Here, the large number of people divided into smaller scrum teams can include up to 10 members in each team.

Each team chooses one developer to act as a spokesperson, often known as an “ambassador,” for daily standups during their scaled Scrum. Another role is the Scrum of Scrums master, similar to the Scrum Master for Scrum methodology but at a higher level.

Purpose of Scrum of Scrums

A Scrum of Scrums meeting can be a valuable way to communicate with organizations with different goals. Here’s how:

  1. Organizations use this approach as the initial step to scale agile and organize the delivery of large, complex products.
  2. The Scrum of Scrums supports the agile teams by enhancing their productivity and coordinating their work with other groups.
  3. When problems arise in one part of a system, they can affect the rest of the system directly and indirectly. Scrum of Scrums provides an effective way to identify these issues and address them on time.
  4. Through this meeting, representatives from each team can share updates about their progress and report on issues that may have arisen.
  5. Scrum of Scrum meetings helps ensure that tasks are synchronized and team members are kept up to date with the work remaining on their project.
  6. Scrum-of-Scrum teams not only coordinate delivery but ensure a fully integrated product at the end of every sprint.
  7. Scrum meetings are also helpful for solving problems and making decisions.
  8. This meeting helps ensure transparency by providing everyone with the latest information on the project.

Structure of the Scrum of Scrums

A Scrum of Scrums team is a cross-functional team that includes representatives from multiple Scrum teams. It follows the same practices and events as an individual Scrum team, and each member of the Scrum of Scrums team has the same role as a member of the corresponding Scrum team. However, to deploy the potentially integrated product at the end of every sprint, new additional roles are included here, not found in Scrum teams.

For instance, there is a quality assurance leader in every Scrum of Scrums team. The quality assurance leader is responsible for overseeing, testing, and maintaining the quality of the final product at the end of each sprint.

Another such role is Scrum of Scrums Master, who is responsible for focusing on the progress and product backlogs, facilitating prioritization, and continuously improving the effectiveness of Scrum of Scrums.

These roles take up the 15 minutes of scaled daily Scrum meet-ups to align and improve the impediments of the project. Here, each team’s product owner or ambassador discusses each team’s requirements, risks, and sprint goals with the other team. It also identifies the improvements of their team that other groups can leverage to achieve the final product.

Read The Full Guide About Benefits of a Scrum of Scrums

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