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What is Scrum of Scrums? Purpose and Agenda of Scrum of Scrums meeting

May 4, 2021

By Simpliaxis

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Scrum is designed to operate in small groups which consist of about twelve people. Scrum of Scrums is a concept which helps larger Scrum groups to collaborate where Agile teams consisting of 5-10 members are formed. Larger projects require many people to collaborate as there are many features and other tasks that have to be completed for the project to be successful. Scrum teams usually have 7-10 members in a group who complete a single project by self-organization. But in complex projects, this number of members is not enough to complete all the tasks. Since there are many people in a large group and the communication between all the members would be difficult, every scrum team has a member called an “ambassador” who interacts with other team’s ambassadors in the daily Scrum. This concept is known as Scrum of Scrums which has many purposes and agenda that proves to be a greater help for completing complex projects. 
 

What is Scrum of Scrums?
 

Jeff Sutherland describes Scrum of Scrums as the tool responsible for delivering working software of all the teams that have to meet the Definition of Done when the sprint ends or when the sprint releases. Hence, SOS could be called an attempt to collaborate with various teams in Scrum as a singular unit. It is also known as SOS where various teams interact with each other and collaborate on the same project. The SOS consists of specified members from several teams who are called the ambassador. Each team of developers decides who will become the representative that is selected to participate in the SOS according to their speaking and communication skills. The team members choose a person who can clearly raise the issues of other team members and coordinate efficiently with higher authorities. This representative can be changed from time to time as the best person available at that moment for a particular task may be selected. Many times, a developer along with the Scrum Master is sent to Scrum of Scrums as even the Scrum Master plays an important role at the Scrum of Scrums level. 

Many approaches are present to conduct SOS, however, the team can decide on which approach is suitable for them and which could yield them better results. SOS need not meet every day; it may take place once a week depending on the availability of all the team members and the need of the project. Ambassadors who participate in SOS have to know answers to the following questions to discuss them in the meeting. These questions are:
 

  • What has their team accomplished since they last met which may affect the project?
     
  • What would their team complete before they would meet again which would affect the project?
     
  • Whether there are issues and impediments that their team is facing which any other team member could help to get resolved? If so, what is it and how can it be resolved?
     

Every team member would be given 15 minutes in SOS so that they could answer these questions. The timings are similar to daily scrum as SOS is a type of Daily Scrum. The time limit is present to ensure that irrelevant matters are not discussed. However, if the matter that a team member is addressing is genuine and requires more time, then the SOS could be extended so that the team gets a better opportunity to get a solution for the impediments that were discussed in the meeting.
 

Scrum of Scrums Purpose
 

SOS is a virtual team that consists of representatives of multiple scrum teams who are the original developing teams. These representatives are not superior or inferior to anyone, and hence they bridge the communication gap and reduce misunderstandings. The main purpose of creating and helping Agile teams gain maximum productivity along with making them coordinate and collaborate effectively. SOS plays a crucial role in decision-making and problem-solving areas. The main aim of Scrum of Scrums is to help independent and smaller coordinates with each other. SOS also ensures that a fully functional product increment is developed at the end of the sprint. Hence, Scrum of Scrums could be thought of as a release team that delivers value to its customers. SOS is the first approach in bigger companies who want to scale Agile and organize the delivery of complex and larger products. 
 

Scrum of Scrums Agenda
 

When we look at the Scrum of Scrums meeting agenda, we see very many similarities to the daily scrum meeting agenda. Questions asked during the daily scrum are asked even in Scrum of Scrums such as:
 

  • What tasks were finished since the last meeting?
  • What works will be finished till the next meeting?
  • Whether any obstacles are slowing the work of their respective team?
     

Each representative has to answer these questions according to the status of their team such that an overall picture of the project progress can be seen. The frequency of meetings depends on the team members. Experts say that SOS could take place every day similar to the daily scrum and the time limit of these meetings should be at most 15 minutes. Also, if every day is not possible, then the team could meet up on a weekly thrice basis every alternate day and can have potentially longer than 15 minutes meetings that could summarize the three above questions. 
 

What are the features of Scrum of Scrum meetings?
 

  • Scrum teams work best with 10 members, when larger projects are assigned multiple groups are formed. With Scrum of Scrums, those larger groups could be clubbed into a single group such that all groups stay in contact and collaborate. 
     
  • SOS avoids pitfalls such as inefficiency and redundancy and helps in promoting productivity and efficiency.
     
  • All teams are involved and no team is left out of the loop which helps the company to allocate resources effectively.
     
  • Huge companies can easily use Scrum for their software development
     
  • Collaboration is promoted and communication is effective
     
  • Every team is informed as everyone is represented in the SOS
     
  • Consensus is facilitated by SOS
     
  • Problem-solving is made easier as a forum for discussing new and unexpected developments is created. 
     
  • Each team role is outlined such that tasks are not overlapped between two teams. 
     

Goals of Scrum of Scrums
 

The goals of SOS are straightforward and coincide with whatever we have discussed already:
 

  • Eliminating bottlenecks
  • Multiple team’s productions are integrated into a single product
  • All the output from the teams involved is coordinated. 
     

Who is involved in Scrum of Scrums?
 

Scrum of Scrums has a maximum of 10 members that could be part of the group and traditionally the Scrum Masters are the representatives of each team. However, one Scrum Master can handle multiple teams and when only Scrum Masters are involved in the meeting there would be a lack of perspective in the SOS. For example, a tech person rarely becomes a Scrum Master, but the team needs the point of view of a tech person to continue with the product planning. Hence, there two representatives from each team, a Scrum Master and a member of the development team, could be part of the Scrum of Scrums. In addition, the SOS can also include the Product Owner who can bring about a new perspective to the discussions. However, you have to be careful that the meeting is not being dominated by the product owners as they rant about the development decisions made in the group. Also, there could be a specific person called the Scrum of Scrum Master who would lead the group of Scrum of Scrums such that there is no chaos among the members of the SOS and the meeting is conducted smoothly.
 

How to Conduct a Scrum of Scrums Meeting?
 

Follow these tips to conduct a successful and productive Scrum of Scrums meeting:
 

  • The members of SOS should know the agenda of the meeting before they begin as it would be easier for them to proceed.
     
  • The team should have the correct person and it may not be always the Scrum Master that takes part in the SOS.
     
  • The frequency and the length of the meeting should be set ahead of time. This could be twice a week for a period of 30 minutes to 1 hour. Try to minimize the time as much as possible, if you could make it a 15-minute meeting it would be much better.
     
  • Collect all the problems at the beginning and set aside time to solve those problems as this meeting is not just to collect a report on the problems.
     
  • Build an environment where everyone is at ease to share their concerns which means an ambiance of transparency and trust should be created such that everyone is comfortable.
     
  • Make it clear to everyone attending the meeting, that every information that is discussed in the meeting should be shared with the team members mandatorily. Otherwise, there would be no point in conducting such meetings, in the first place. 
     
  • Remember you have met here to solve the problems facing my multiple teams as well. Hence, the SOS should not be treated as a mere status meeting. 
     

What is Scrum of Scrums?
 

This may seem like overused jargon, but it is a thing. A Scrum of Scrums meeting brings together the Scrum Masters of every SOS. This occurs in larger organizations where the number of Scrum members is enormous and a mere Scrum of Scrums can’t handle the number of teams. These meetings are referred to as Large-scale Scrum (LeSS) and are designed to handle hundreds of developers in an organization. Hence, when companies start with the Scrum framework, but grow in size and take up complex projects, Scrum of Scrums and LeSS concepts are used to scale Agile in the organization. 
 

Conclusion
 

Scrum of Scrums is a concept that gives clarity to the organization about the path that the Scrum members are following to complete a complex project. SOS makes it easier for the Agile teams to reach an end goal, and also helps them to have a clear plan for the day. Teams can identify many impediments which may destroy their process of achieving sprint goals. Once the Scrum of Scrums meetings is completed, the team can work towards solving the meetings and finding solutions that are efficient and productive. Hence, SOS helps the organization to create a healthy environment throughout the project and keeps a sense of trust and transparency among the Agile team members.

 

 

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