Now that you have successfully assembled a few Scrum teams who are performing well, you are now, more than likely, taking on larger and more complex projects that require more than one team. At this stage, it is likely that you have experienced some challenges with coordination and communication between the teams.
One of the most popular techniques to facilitate cross-team collaboration on a multi-team Agile project is the Scrum of Scrums technique. This is a regular meeting that allows representatives from each team to come together and share their successes, challenges, and obstacles. The thought of yet another meeting likely concerns you, so how do you know if you really need to add this to your calendar?
Let’s take a closer look.
The Scrum of Scrums meeting is usually held for projects/programs that have three or more teams. In my experience, if you have two teams, they can usually find a way to self-organize and discuss issues as needed, so you can probably get away with not having a formal meeting. Once you reach three teams, it is much more difficult to have ad hoc meetings and pull the right people together without advanced planning. In my opinion, this is the threshold that determines when you should seriously consider establishing a recurring Scrum of Scrums.
Let’s take a look at the mechanics of how the Scrum of Scrums works.
- How often should the teams meet?
This can vary depending on the nature and complexity of your project. Typically, twice a week for 30 minutes is a good starting point.
- Who needs to attend?
Typically, the Scrum Master from each team is the choice by default, but it can be someone else who understands the broader perspective for that team. The key is to exchange recent accomplishments, current areas of focus, and potential obstacles that one team may be creating for another.
- Who runs this meeting?
On a program or project that has multiple teams, you may need to assign someone as the Chief Scrum Master to provide cross-team coordination. This may not need to be a formal job title, it could be fulfilled by the Project Manager or Program Manager in most situations.
- How are issues tracked/managed/escalated?
The level of formality in terms of issue tracking will vary depending on the organizational processes and policies. The Chief Scrum Master should help run down issues, concerns, and risks where needed. If this person is the Project/Program Manager, he/she will likely maintain an issues list or risk register already, so that may be used to manage the information.
In closing, the Scrum of Scrums is a key event that many maturing Agile teams will need as they attempt to scale and do more sophisticated work that requires several teams. As always, start simple and then inspect and adapt as needed!