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Do Scrum of Scrums meetings add value to the project – Part 1

One of the most confusing meetings for new entrants to Scrum is the Scrum of Scrums meeting. For a lot of people, there is no clear understanding about why this meeting is held, who are the participants, frequency, agenda, etc. I have been through a couple of trainings and those did not really cover the Scrum of Scrums. In the past, we have had some team members of complex Scrum teams (where the project was split into several Scrum teams for convenience) coming to us (a group of experienced Scrum Masters), asking for more experience in what this meeting was about. Some of them were researching about what to do when they had large teams working together, and needed some guidance in this regard. This post (and many others) are more in terms of explaining what the Scrum of Scrums is, and how it can be optimized.
So what is the Scrum of Scrums ? Well, as in many of such terms and processes, you will find some amount of variety in the answers you get, but there is consensus about the fact that it is a process geared towards ensuring that multiple scrum teams interact with each other. Consider a big project with many features; these are broken down into multiple Scrum teams. However, it is required that these teams interact with each other, since it would be pretty accurate to expect that features could interact with each other. For example, a login module would not work until another team has made the connectivity with the Database work, and yet another team has made the security protocols for the login process.
Because of all these interactions and dependencies, the teams need to interact to resolve and coordinate the integration of these dependencies. In our experience, we have had the Scrum Master and Product Owner from the Scrum teams attend the Scrum of Scrums (the frequency of this meeting in turn needs to be defined by the members of this meeting; we have had cases where the number of dependencies meant that teams meet for this meeting every day, in another case where the User Stories were fairly independent, and the Scrum of Scrums would be setup for once a week and would finish quickly); we haven’t had something like a Scrum Master concept for the Scrum of Scrums meeting. But, we did ask for a person from the Product Management organization with enough authority to act as a Product Owner for this Scrum of Scrums; one of the primary roles of this PO was to reconcile different priorities among the various Scrum teams to ensure that feature dependency schedules were properly synchronized, even if that meant that some individual Product Backlogs had to be redone to incorporate changes in priority (in one significant case, one Scrum team ended up with a task on the next Sprint that was at a very low priority because other teams depended on that task for a lot of architecture support).

More on the Scrum of Scrums in the next post (link) ..

Succeeding with Agile: Software Development Using Scrum Agile Estimating and Planning Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams

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