Scaling Agile with Scrum Of Scrums (SoS)
Of the various Agile Scaling Frameworks in current use, the Scrum of Scrums (SoS) is still both the oldest and most commonly used. Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber are the two individuals credited with the introduction of the Scrum of Scrums.
Scrum of Scrums is a scaled agile technique for integrating the work of multiple scrum teams (usually five to nine members each) working on the same project. It allows teams to communicate with each other to ensure that the software output of each team integrates well with the output of the other teams, and especially in areas where there is overlap or the sequencing of events is important.
Running SoS meetings
The coordination of the various teams is done in a Scrum of Scrums meeting which can be held daily, twice a week, or at a minimum, once a week. Each Scrum team has its ScrumMaster or a designated team member attend the Scrum of Scrum meeting as its representative. If the material a particular team wants to discuss is highly technical, both the ScrumMaster plus a technically qualified team member may want to attend.
The Scrum of Scrum meeting is run very similarly to the Daily Scrum meeting each team holds on a daily basis but is not limited to a fifteen-minute timebox. At the Scrum of Scrums meeting, each team “ambassador” should respond to the following questions:
- What has your team accomplished since our last meeting?
- What problems occurred, if any, that negatively affected your team?
- What does your team want to accomplish before we meet again?
- What output from your team in future sprints, do you see as possibly interfering with the work of other teams?
- Does your team see any interference problems coming from the work of other teams?
The purpose of the Scrum of Scrums meeting is to ensure the coordination and integration of output from the various teams by eliminating all impediments. This may involve two or more teams working together for a time, re-negotiating areas of responsibility, and so forth. To keep track of all of this, it is important the Scrum of Scrums have a Product Backlog of its own to be maintained by the Chief ScrumMaster.
SoS in large organizations
A Scrum of Scrums framework can be effective even in larger organizations with many multiple teams, provided the Scrum of Scrum meetings are properly conducted. The emphasis should be on the coordination of the various teams and solving their impediments. The Scrum of Scrum meeting should NOT be a status report of ScrumMasters to report to management the progress of the Development teams. The goal of the Scrum of Scrums should be to make sure the individual teams make their sprint goals, and that the overall project goal of all the teams is met.
According to Jeff Sutherland, the definition of Scrum of Scrums is:
The Scrum of Scrums as I have used it is responsible for delivering the working software of all teams to the Definition of Done at the end of the Sprint, or for releases during the sprint.