Using Scrum on Larger Projects: "Scrum of Scrums"

Using Scrum on Larger Projects: Scrum of ScrumsIt is sometimes said that agile software development methods, such as Scrum, are ideal for small projects being delivered by small teams.

Personally I would certainly agree that Scrum is ideal for small, multi-disciplined, co-located teams, working on a common purpose.

However, these days we hear plenty of examples of larger companies using Scrum on a fairly large scale. I seem to recall Yahoo in particular once stated they were using Scrum agile project management on a project with 700 developers!

Of course it is relatively straightforward to scale Scrum up when the teams are basically a collection of small unrelated teams, each using Scrum but working on different projects. But what about when you need a very large team working on a single project, or on closely related projects in a large programme?

One technique for handling this – although I’m sure it’s not enough on it’s own by the way – is a technique called ‘Scrum of Scrums’.

The concept is simple. Each team meets every day and holds their daily Scrum as usual. One or two representatives from each Scrum team attend a higher level Scrum to coordinate across teams. And on very large teams, one or two representatives from the higher level Scrum attends an even higher level Scrum, and so on.

It means some people need to attend two Scrums, but the Scrum of Scrums technique scales up very well and is easy to see how important information can be quickly cascaded all the way up the line on very large projects.

But the information that needs to be communicated, and the frequency of communication, shifts as you go up the line, and the process for a Scrum of Scrums needs to be slightly different from a usual Scrum.

Mike Cohn – popular author of Agile Estimating and Planning and User Stories Applied – has written a blog post giving his advice on how to apply the Scrum of Scrums technique…

Advice on conducting a Scrum of Scrums – by Mike Cohn


2 Responses to “Using Scrum on Larger Projects: "Scrum of Scrums"”

  1. PuristProductManagement says:

    Yes scrum of scrums works well and certainly helps co-ordinate communication across multiple scrum teams. In my experiance an important factor in success of multi-scrum large scale projects is dis-associating the work streams as far as possible, and having strong product and project management functions that can mitigate interdependencies effectivly. This is tough, and requires protracted elaboration periods, but from experiance the time spent earlier saves weeks later. Scrum of Scrums certainly helps this!

  2. Rod Clar says:

    Annother approach to handling the communiation and contention between teams is to use retrospectives to identify specific areas where the larger number of teams was less effective than a small team. For instance code contention, shared resources or cross-team requirements. In cases like this create more SoS teams with different local representatives at those scrum meetings.

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