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Scrum of Scrums – How the process works, and some modifications / variations

In the previous post (brief overview of Scrum of Scrums), I mentioned the Scrum of Scrums. In this post, will post some more details of how it operates (including some variations), and some scenarios in which it is needed.

When needed

A Scrum of Scrums is very useful when the overall project is much larger than a single Scrum team, and the teams need to ensure that they have a good system of communication going across the teams. The Scrum of Scrums also helps to ensure that the teams are working to remove any cross team impediments This is where representatives from the various Scrum teams get together, work through what activities are happening across teams and also ensure that efficient coordination is happening across the teams. It works to have a ScrumMaster (you can also call him the Uber ScrumMaster) for running and coordinating this Scrum of Scrums. The Scrum of Scrums can meet daily, or alternate days, but lag behind the regular Scrum, since it is the issues that emerge from the regular Scrum that are discussed in the Scrum of Scrums.

Scrum of Scrums – what needs to get addressed

The Scrum of Scrums lasts longer than the regular Scrum meeting, since the issues that get raised at this meeting typically affect far more people than the impediments raised at the regular Scrum meeting, and it makes sense to try and close those issues as early as possible. Team representatives can talk very quickly about what their teams have done, but the major focus is to bring out issues, and to avoid getting into a boasting match about what their teams have done. This meeting is also a good place to walk through higher Product level features that need attention from the Product Management team, or are technically challenging enough that they need to be addressed at a much higher level than the Daily Scrum meeting. The team also reviews the issues raised during previous Scrum of Scrums (maintained in an issues backlog – in such cases, some issues cannot be resolve then and their and needs to be carried forward to another meeting). Using some sort of tool for this purpose is useful, but does not need to be very complicated; in some cases, even Excel or a Twiki is good enough.

Cross Geography Scrum of Scrums

For projects which are located across geographies, such as where teams in different locations are working on separate components that are inter-dependent and which together make up the application, the teams may have their own Scrums at their own location. However, it is pretty important that such teams get together, coordinate, and share notes; and also resolve inter-dependencies. Because of the complication of cross-geographies and different working styles, in such cases, it makes sense to have a daily Scrum of Scrums to make the coordination between them more efficient. In many cases, teams have found that the Scrum of Scrums benefit from having Product Owners and Senior Architects attached to them, attending the meetings when required. One weekly meeting that reviews whether the Scrum of Scrums is having a beneficial effect or needs some modification helps to make the process more tight, more productive.

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