How Scrum of Scrums can help coordinate remote Agile teams

Access to timely information and frequent communication is a critical element of effective Scrum teams. In a co-located environment, it is easy to walk into a Scrum team area and synchronize as needed. In a distributed environment, however, we must be methodical about how to do it. Scheduled meetings are an effective way, but too many meetings can have a counterproductive effect.

Moreover, working from home can feel isolating. Thus, it is important that team members do not feel isolated and that they continue to connect with the team on a regular basis. The Daily Scrum is an effective meeting to keep the Scrum team synchronized and connected. But what about Scrum environments with multiple teams. How do we ensure that the coordination and connection between teams remain strong? The Scrum of Scrum can be an effective way to keep the organization synchronized and connected as they move toward a common goal.

Over time, the Scrum of Scrums has been reduced to a simple meeting that occurs at the teams’ discretion. This, however, is underutilizing a key concept to improve the success of how multiple teams work together, especially in a remote environment where timely communication becomes critical.

The Scrum of Scrum team is made up of representatives from different Scrum teams. These are usually the Scrum Masters and, in some cases, include additional Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). The Scrum of Scrum teams should meet once a day in the Scaled Daily Scrum meeting. This is a meeting that should be timeboxed to no more than 15-minutes. During this time, the network of teams (S0S) plans the work for the next 24 hours and addresses any impediments that the individual teams might be facing and are not able to solve on their own.

The main objectives of the Scrum of Scrum are to:

1- Remove impediments that the individual teams cannot solve on their own.

2- Plan the work to achieve the next release.

3- Identify dependencies and coordinate the necessary work.

4- Share lessons learned that can be used by other teams to improve their work.

The Scaled Daily Scrum can be carried out in a question format to help keep the timebox. Below are five recommended questions:

1- What did my team do yesterday to achieve the planned release?

2- What will my team do today to achieve the planned release?

3- Does my team have any impediments that they cannot solve on their own?

4- Do we have any key dependencies to achieve the planned release?

5- What did we learn that can help other teams to achieve the planned release?

The Scaled Daily Scrum is an effective technique to synchronize multiple teams in a very short amount of time. A case study shows how SaaB Aeronautics –Gripen E Architecture was able to synchronize 4,096 people in 1 hour, every day!


Here’s how they did it:


Challenge: Synchronize 4,096 people in 1 hour.


Solution:


• 8:30 Executive Action Team

• 8:15 Scrum of Scrum of Scrum of Scrums

• 8:00 Scrum of Scrum of Scrums

• 7:45 Scrum of Scrums

• 7:30 Daily Scrum


The Scrum of Scrum network of teams can scale as needed to include a Scrum of Scrum of Scrum or SoSoS. This allows the organization to synchronize as many teams as necessary in a very short amount of time. The key is to observe the timebox to allow the Scaled Daily Scrums to flow as the organization synchronizes all the way to the Executive Action Team.

Is your organization using a Scrum of Scrums? How are your remote Scrum teams handling scaling online?

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