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How to Align Scrum Teams

TL;DR: How to Align Scrum Teams

Why it Is Beneficial to Align Scrum Teams

Alignment at Product and Process Level:

Alignment at Technical Level:

Signs That Your Efforts to Align Scrum Teams Are Failing

  • ‘They’ — meaning another Scrum team — touched ‘our code.’ (Without approval from us: a perceived on even encouraged code ownership at the team level.)
  • Deployments by individual Scrum teams happen without prior communication to the other teams, thus breaking things. (‘Was working on our staging system’ syndrome.)
  • There is no regular sharing of knowledge among teams, for example, training colleagues on new code if not ordered by the management.
  • Scrum of Scrums meetings are not attended. (Common excuses: a) “Scrum has so many meetings, when am I supposed to finish my work?” and b) “Our issues are not affecting any other Scrum team.”)

The Necessity to Improve Inter-Team Communication

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First Improvised Steps to Align Scrum Teams

  • First of all, avoid individual sprint lengths, and start-dates, but align the sprints of all teams instead.
  • Establish a ‘Scrum of Scrums’ ceremony, as well as a dependency board. (Both measures are temporary training wheels on the way to fully autonomous and aligned Scrum teams.)
  • Apply the LGTM (‘looks good to me’) process before releases: This sounds like bureaucracy but is unavoidable if otherwise disaster is lurking around the corner. (Interesting question on the side: Will the Scrum teams address this issue themselves, or wait for management to ‘solve’ it?)
  • Establish a peer teaching and coaching program. A simple pair programming board — who wants to learn what from whom — can be a good start.
  • Track technical debt with a repository of issues that need to be fixed, shared and maintained by all Scrum teams.

Agile Transition — A Manual from the Trenches

Download the PDF here

Ultimately, Align Scrum Teams by Moving to Autonomous Feature Teams

  • Continuous integration is a prerequisite for feature teams. This process needs to work flawlessly
  • You build it, ship it, and run it: Everyone on a feature team needs to do “QA,” avoid siloing quality assurance or delegating it to an individual team member
  • If you continue using feature branches, make tasks as small as possible and try to merge all branches back to master in the evening. This practice will provide everyone with instant feedback, and fixes will be less expensive (and painful)
  • Start measuring lead and cycle time to identify queues. (Read more: Agile Transition: Agile Metrics — the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.)
  • If you’re working on a monolith, consider moving to a micro-service architecture if that is feasible.


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Stefan Wolpers

I have worked for 17-plus years as a Scrum Master, Product Owner, and agile coach. Professional Scrum Trainer (PST) with