Do your agile teams work together well? This may help!

holding an effective scrum of scrums

How can you help agile teams work together?  Hold a Scrum of Scrums.

While some software development projects are small enough in scope to be handled by a single agile development team, most projects are large enough in scope to require multiple teams.  When multiple teams begin to work together, they quickly find that there are shared requirements and tasks, and that there are tasks where one team is dependent on another.   In order to help teams collaborate at their best, it is very useful to introduce a scrum of scrums.

What is a scrum of scrums?

A scrum of scrums (SoS) is a regularly scheduled meeting where representative members of scrum teams come together to talk about project status, dependencies, and other useful information.   Meetings may be held daily, but are more often held weekly or bi-weekly.

Who is invited?

Each scrum team with work related to other teams should be represented in a scrum of scrums.   That representative could be the scrum master, product owner, or a development team member.  They should be technical enough to know details of dependencies, aware of product schedules, and be a good communicator.  Often a product owner or senior technical team member fills that role.  Attendees can change as topics and requirements change.

How can I make my scrum of scrums most useful?

1.  Break down the meeting into two sections.   First, each participant should give a scrum-like update, answering:

  • What has your team done since last time we met?
  • What do you plan to do before next time?
  • Do you have any obstacles?
  • Are you impeding any other team?

Next, teams should have a discussion about any dependencies or areas where they can help each other progress.

2.   Make the Scrum of Scrums center around positive teamwork.   Try to limit discussions that blame one team for another’s lack of progress.  Focus on how teams can help each other and be diligent about taking negative subjects offline.   This meeting should not be a time to complain – it should be a time to collaborate.

3.  For difficult problems, set an agenda ahead of time and make sure the right people are in the room.   Bring in the technical experts when needed to discuss design decisions.  Make this a productive working meeting.

Using the scrum of scrums technique, you can optimize the way that your scrum teams collaborate.  It may take time to adjust the attendees and topics, but in the end it will be well worth it to help agile scrum teams work well together.

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