Coordinating teams with Scrum of Scrums
When multiple teams are interdependent (typically because they develop the same product), Scrum of Scrums is a common coordination practice within Sprints. Here are some tips to make it an effective meeting:
- During Sprint Planning identify the features that need contributions from several teams during the upcoming Sprint (e.g. with a dependency matrix).
- Focus the Scrum of Scrums meeting around these dependencies. (And dismiss the Scrum of Scrums if there are no relevant dependencies – which is actually a good thing.)
- Let the teams with dependencies send one or two delegates to the Scrum of Scrums. The delegates are developers – not the Product Owners and not the Scrum Masters. Delegates may be the same during the Sprint or teams may choose to rotate the delegates.
- Find an appropriate periodicity for the Scrum of Scrums. Sometimes a daily Scrum of Scrums is what the teams need, sometimes one or two Scrum of Scrums per week are sufficient. The teams should decide during the Sprint Planning.
- Timebox the Scrum of Scrums to 15 minutes if it is done on a daily base (weekly Scrum of Scrums may have longer timeboxes).
- Visualize the state of the features with dependencies during the Scrum of Scrums (e.g. with a dependency matrix).
- Let one of the team Scrum Masters moderate the Scrum of Scrums.
- Discuss three questions (similar to the one used in the Daily Scrum):
- What did my team achieve since the last Scrum of Scrums regarding the features with dependencies?
- What impediments occurred in my team regarding the features with dependencies?
- What do the teams plan to do until the next Scrum of Scrums regarding the features with dependencies?
Also consider alternatives to the central Scrum of Scrums meeting, e.g.:
- Teams may visit the regular Daily Scrums of other teams if they have a dependency.
- Teams may visit each other on demand. This is especially suitable in open office settings that encourage communication and cooperation between teams.
- Teams may form task forces for the features with dependencies. Scrum of Scrums may be established per task force. Over the time of several Sprints patterns regarding the task force members may become visible. These are often good starting points for reorganizing team structures to improve team autonomy.
- The ideal of the Scrum team is the autonomous team without dependencies. Although a dependency free situation won’t be achievable we strive for reducing dependencies. If we are successful the teams don’t need any coordination meetings during the Sprint.
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