Scrum of Scrums: Purpose, Agenda and Best Practices

The Scrum of Scrums, pioneered by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber in 1996, is a vital scaled Agile technique designed to facilitate collaboration among teams working on complex solutions. The purpose of Scrum of Scrums is to coordinate numerous business units, each with multiple product lines, and synchronise the efforts of individual teams. 

Successful implementation of the Scrum of Scrums approach relies on high-performing Scrum teams that share a common goal, trust, respect, and complete alignment.

This blog serves as a comprehensive Scrum of Scrums guide where you will delve deeper into the concept of this methodology, learn about its key principles and benefits, essential Scrum of Scrums roles, and practical implementation strategies. 

Scrum of Scrums Meaning

The Scrum of Scrums (SoS) is an Agile methodology that coordinates and manages inter-team collaboration within larger Agile projects. It involves creating a team of representatives from various development teams, typically chosen based on their ability to communicate and address inter-team dependencies effectively.

The primary purpose of the Scrum of Scrums is to facilitate communication and alignment between multiple Agile teams working on a common project. The person representing a team in the SoS can change over time, allowing for flexibility in addressing specific issues. 

Sometimes, a development team member and their Scrum of Scrums Master may participate in the SoS to ensure effective communication. However, this is done judiciously to prevent the group from becoming too large.

What is The Goal of Scrum of Scrums Event?

The goal of Scrum of Scrums is to unite diverse teams to achieve a common goal, eliminate bottlenecks, harmonise the efforts of multiple teams, and ensure effective coordination. Representatives from each team participate, answering critical questions about their accomplishments, obstacles, upcoming plans, and potential conflicts, fostering a culture of collaboration and cross-team synchronisation that contributes to project success.

The key purposes of the Scrum of Scrums approach are:

  • Issue Resolution: The SoS serves as a platform for teams to address and resolve any problems or obstacles, ensuring that these issues do not negatively impact the project.
  • Progress Sharing: A Scrum of Scrums meeting also facilitates the sharing of progress updates among different Scrum teams, allowing representatives to convey their status and enabling teams to adapt their plans based on this information, promoting transparency and alignment.
  • Task Alignment: A Scrum of Scrums meeting enables teams to synchronise their tasks and priorities. Through discussions about remaining work and responsibilities, teams ensure they are all working cohesively toward a shared objective, minimising duplication of effort and maximising efficiency.

Things to Consider Before Conducting a Scrum of Scrums Meeting

Certain practices help ensure that a Scrum of Scrums meeting is conducted effectively, promoting collaboration, problem-solving, and alignment among multiple Agile teams.

Listed below are some of the said best practices for a Scrum of Scrums meeting:

  • Agenda Clarity: Ensure each team knows what points to share, focusing on critical updates and challenges.
  • Meeting Parameters: Set meeting length and frequency in advance, typically twice a week for 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Information Relay: Emphasise the responsibility of attendees to relay meeting information back to their respective teams.
  • Not a Status Meeting: Stress that it’s a Scrum of Scrums, not a status meeting; the focus is on collaboration, not just reporting tasks.

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Benefits of Adopting The Scrum of Scrums Approach

Scrum of Scrums (SoS) is an extension of the Scrum framework designed to coordinate multiple Agile teams. It offers several advantages for managing complex projects involving multiple teams. 

Here are the key benefits of adopting the Scrum of Scrums approach:

  • Enhanced collaboration: SoS promotes effective communication and collaboration among multiple Agile teams, ensuring they work together seamlessly and address inter-team dependencies.
  • Better transparency: It provides transparency into the progress and challenges of individual teams, allowing for a clearer understanding of project status across the organisation.
  • Efficient issue resolution: A Scrum of Scrums meeting serves as a platform for identifying and resolving issues that may impact the entire project, preventing potential bottlenecks and delays.
  • Optimised task coordination: The framework facilitates task synchronisation among teams, helping prioritise work and ensuring alignment toward common project goals.
  • Streamlined decision-making: Scrum of Scrums enables quicker decision-making by bringing relevant team representatives together to address critical project-related matters.
  • Improved risk management: By sharing insights and potential risks, SoS helps teams proactively manage and mitigate project risks, enhancing overall project resilience.
  • Effective scaling: SoS allows organisations to scale Agile practices for larger and more complex projects while maintaining agility and responsiveness.
  • Enhanced trust: The collaborative nature of SoS fosters trust among team members as they collectively work toward shared objectives, resulting in a more cohesive and motivated workforce.

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The Features of Scrum of Scrums Agenda

A Scrum of Scrums agenda outlines the key elements and topics to be addressed during SoS meetings, which are crucial for coordinating multiple Agile teams. If it is well-structured, it helps teams effectively collaborate, identify and resolve issues, and stay aligned toward successfully completing a complex project. 

Here are the features typically found in a Scrum of Scrums agenda:-

  • Team updates: Each team provides updates on their progress, highlighting accomplishments, obstacles, and any dependencies impacting their work.
  • Inter-team dependencies: Discussing inter-team dependencies and potential conflicts requiring resolution or coordination.
  • Roadblocks and impediments: Identifying any roadblocks or impediments hindering the progress of individual teams or the project.
  • Action items: Defining action items and responsibilities for addressing identified issues and dependencies before the next meeting.
  • Upcoming tasks: Sharing information about upcoming tasks and potential impacts on other teams to ensure alignment and coordination.
  • Risk assessment: Assessing project risks and discussing strategies for risk management across teams.
  • Resource allocation: Discussing resource allocation or sharing needs among teams to optimise productivity.
  • Alignment with project goals: Ensuring all teams are aligned with the overall project goals and objectives.
  • Feedback and improvements: Gathering feedback on the coordination process and discussing opportunities for improvement in future SoS meetings.
  • Meeting cadence: Confirming the schedule and frequency of future SoS meetings.
  • Issue escalation: Establishing a process for escalating critical issues that cannot be resolved at the team level.

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When Should A Scrum of Scrums Meeting Agenda Be Held?

A Scrum of Scrums meeting agenda should be held as often as necessary, typically once or twice a week, depending on the emergence of issues and the teams’ preferences. The frequency can be decided by the representatives involved. 

Additionally, while there is a recommended time-box of 15 minutes for a Scrum of Scrums meeting, the actual duration can vary based on the specific needs and discussions during the meeting.

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Scrum of Scrums Meeting Outcomes

The Scrum of Scrums meeting yields several vital outcomes for Agile teams working on complex projects:

  • Clear project path: A Scrum of Scrums meeting provides a comprehensive view of the project’s direction, ensuring all teams are aligned toward the end goal.
  • Daily planning: Teams can develop a well-defined daily plan based on the insights and priorities discussed during the meeting.
  • Impediment identification: By sharing updates, teams identify potential impediments and challenges hindering the sprint goal’s achievement.
  • Detailed issue resolution: After the Scrum of Scrums meeting, teams can delve into impediments, finding detailed solutions and strategies for resolution.
  • Enhanced productivity: Addressing impediments promptly leads to improved productivity and smoother project progression.
  • Healthy work environment: The collaborative problem-solving in SoS fosters a healthy and supportive work environment throughout the project.
  • Transparent communication: Scrum of Scrums meetings promote transparency and open communication, ensuring that all teams know critical project aspects.
  • Timely adjustments: Teams can make timely adjustments to their plans and strategies based on the insights shared during the meeting.

Scrum of Scrums Best Practices

To ensure the effectiveness of Scrum of Scrums meetings, the following practices should be followed:-

  • Problem Resolution: Allocate dedicated time during SoS meetings to identify and address potential problems or roadblocks that may impede the progress of individual teams or the project. This proactive approach helps prevent minor issues from escalating.
  • Progress Tracking: Continuously monitor the progress of ongoing and completed scaled daily Scrum activities, ensuring alignment with project objectives and facilitating early intervention if deviations occur.
  • Transparency and Agreement: Promote a culture of transparency among teams and establish a positive environment where teams collaboratively agree on what constitutes a “complete” task or story. This collective agreement enhances clarity and shared understanding.
  • Preparation: Encourage thorough preparation from each participating team, ensuring they are ready to share their progress points and potential challenges during the meeting. Adequate preparation fosters productive discussions.
  • Early Dependency Handling: To address inter-team dependencies effectively, prioritise delivering tasks that rely on other teams early in the Sprint. This approach allows for ample time to discover and resolve any issues that might arise.
  • Demo Timeline: Prepare and maintain a timeline for the team’s demo meeting to showcase progress efficiently and ensure stakeholders are well-informed about the project’s status.
  • Representative Attendance: Select appropriate team representatives to attend the SoS meeting, ensuring that each team’s perspective and concerns are adequately represented. A well-rounded representation facilitates comprehensive discussions.
  • Effective reporting: Instruct meeting attendees to report back to their respective teams regarding the outcomes of the SoS meeting. This practice ensures that the information discussed is disseminated to the relevant teams and acted upon effectively. Effective reporting closes the feedback loop and reinforces the collaborative efforts of the Agile teams.

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The Scrum of Scrums approach is a unique and robust framework that helps foster agility within organisations. It serves as a method for conducting meetings and monitoring progress while maintaining productivity. SoS brings efficiency, streamlining, and effectiveness to meetings, ultimately contributing to an organisation’s journey towards greater agility. 

As organisations embrace Scrum of Scrums, they can experience faster development cycles, improved communication, and the ability to adapt swiftly to change, making it a valuable asset in the pursuit of agility and successful project delivery.

What is the role of the Scrum of the Scrums Master?

The role of the Scrum of Scrums Master is to facilitate coordination and communication among multiple Scrum teams in larger Agile projects.

Where can one find a reliable Scrum of Scrums template?

You can find a reliable Scrum of Scrums template in Agile project management tools or by consulting Agile experts and practitioners.

How can one acquire a Scrum of Scrums certification?

You can enroll in training and certification programs from Agile organisations or accredited institutions/platforms to acquire a Scrum of Scrums certification.

What is Scrums of Scrums SAFe in Agile?

Scrum of Scrums SAFe in Agile refers to applying the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) principles and practices to coordinate and manage multiple Scrum teams working on larger, complex projects within the Agile framework.

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