Successfully synchronizing multiple Scrum teams working on the same product represents a real challenge. The situation, while frequent in larger organizations, presents many problems that will affect productivity, quality, and possibly the success of the project or product. This article ventures into the complexities of managing multiple Scrum teams and provides potential strategies for effective organization, with a focus on Large-Scale Scrum, or LeSS.
Scrum Team Coordination and Communication
When you have five Scrum teams, you can’t practically hold a joint Daily Scrum. You can’t even do joint planning. Seriously, if you intend to try, tell me. I will bring popcorn, it will be entertaining. So we require synchronization and planning methods that keep all of the Scrum teams moving.
Preserving a Unified Product Vision
Maintaining a unified product vision with multiple teams becomes inherently more complex. Divergent interpretations of the product’s purpose, and strategy of product backlog items, will lead to inconsistencies in the final product, compromising its integrity and harming the user experience.
With each team often responsible for specific product features, integrating these disparate parts can pose a challenge. Avoiding discrepancies in design philosophy, technology usage, or deviation from standards are important.
Scaling Scrum Events and Artifacts
Scrum events and artifacts are traditionally designed around a single team. When multiple teams are involved, scaling these crucial elements without losing their essence can be a challenge. Ensuring these ceremonies and artifacts bring value at a larger scale requires effective adaptation of the Scrum framework.
Managing Inter-Team Dependencies
Inter-team dependencies often become a hurdle in a multi-team Scrum environment. The pace of one team might be obstructed if they are dependent on another team’s output. Managing these dependencies without hindering each team’s momentum is hard work.
Maintaining Consistent Velocity and Quality
Ensuring consistent quality across all teams can be challenging, as variations can lead to a disjointed user experience. Typically Scrum teams handle this with a common Definition of Done.
Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS): An Effective Solution
The above-mentioned challenges are difficult, and adopting a framework like Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS) isn’t a panacea. LeSS provides effective strategies for managing these complexities, but it also highlights where the problems remain in a system. LeSS, a lightweight framework for scaling Scrum, is designed to maintain the core principles of Scrum while allowing for large-scale product development.
Maintaining the Scrum Essence
LeSS emphasizes keeping Scrum’s original essence intact even when scaling. This means that regardless of the number of teams, elements such as self-management, cross-functional teams, and empirical process control are preserved. This principle helps in ensuring that the benefits of Scrum are not lost as it scales across multiple teams.
Whole Product Focus
One of the key elements of LeSS is its focus on “whole product focus”. Rather than each team working on a separate component, all teams work on delivering one product increment each sprint. This approach reduces the challenges of integration and promotes a unified product vision.
Coordinating and Synchronizing
LeSS introduces a few additional events to manage coordination and synchronization among teams. These include the Overall Product Backlog Refinement, Overall Sprint Planning, and Overall Retrospective. These events aim to ensure alignment among teams and facilitate collaborative decision-making.
Clear Scrum Team Roles and Responsibilities
In LeSS, the roles remain the same as in single-team Scrum – Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Development Team. The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing product value for all teams, necessitating strong leadership and clear communication. Scrum Masters in LeSS have a critical role in ensuring coordination between teams, removing obstacles, and coaching teams in Scrum practices.
While the challenges posed by having multiple Scrum teams work on a single product are manifold, they are not insurmountable. With careful planning, robust communication, and strategic use of frameworks like LeSS, organizations can successfully navigate these complexities for their Scrum project management. The essence of success lies in fostering a collaborative environment where transparency, shared vision, and continuous improvement steer the teams towards a unified, successful product. Like everything in Agile, it’s a journey of continuous learning, inspection, and adaptation.