Can I scheduled Scrum of Scrum Among 2 teams ?

Last post 06:13 pm January 8, 2020
by Daniel Wilhite
3 replies
09:58 am January 8, 2020

Hello All,

I am working as Scrum Master and I see my team is dependent on another team which is working in different region.
And very seriously we are facing the blockages as we get delay in response when we try to clear our queries.

Can I apply Scrum of Scrum among 2 teams or Do I need to apply only if there are more than 5 teams ?

10:24 am January 8, 2020

What would you actually hope to achieve with a Scrum of Scrums?

Assuming you have two Scrum Teams working on the same product, it sounds as though there may be a need for joint Product Backlog refinement. Dependencies can then be identified and mitigated in advance.

12:51 pm January 8, 2020

Right now, how do you coordinate between these two teams? There are several different options for cross-team coordination, depending on the situation. Although the various scaling frameworks are generally designed for 3+ teams, we can learn from them to see how coordination is handled.

One option may be to elevate Product Backlog Refinement to an event rather than just an activity. In single-team Scrum, refinement is an ongoing activity. Scaling frameworks like LeSS and Nexus both elevate it to an event. There are a few different ways to handle a cross-team refinement. One would be to have a short session with the Product Owner and the two teams to allocate work to each of the teams to then bring into their refinement activities. Another option may be to have joint refinement sessions where members from each team refine all of the Product Backlog Items and ensure that there is an understanding of the work across both teams.

Another option may be to have a join Sprint Planning session. The work is allocated to teams at a combined Sprint Planning session, and then the teams can break off for their own more detailed planning session. The initial session can develop the goals for the combined product increment and make any dependencies (if any exist) between the work that the two teams have selected for the Sprint.

A third option may be to send team member to the other team's Daily Scrum. This person is someone who can speak to the current state of dependencies and let one team know if something is behind plan or if the team is blocked or is facing any impediments.

A Scrum-of-Scrums a few times a week is another option, that it seems like you're aware of.

Not all of these are mutually exclusive, but some may be. For example, I'm not sure if I would combine the options of sending representatives to the team's Daily Scrum with a Scrum-of-Scrum. What you do depends on the nature of the problems being faced and the level of synchronization needed between the two teams. You can start with some experiments to see what works for you.

06:13 pm January 8, 2020

Before you go to the Scrum of Scrum approach I ask if you have exhausted all avenues of simple conversation. If there are timezone issues involved I have found that people will have to make sacrifices for the sake of communication.  If no one is willing to be available early or late in their respective time zone, then you are most likely going to fail no matter what you attempt. And if the teams are all in the same or adjacent time zones and still not communicating you have much bigger problem.

Before I go the route of setting up scheduled times to talk I attempt to exhaust all other options as I have found that constant communication is better than forced scheduled communication.  There are two of the principles listed on the Manifesto for Agile Software Development that I find relevant:

The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.

Simplicity--the art of maximizing the amount of work not done--is essential.

A few tips:

  • In every communication make sure it is clear how this impacts your team's ability to deliver. Make it clear if there is a deadline impacted or if you need information by a specific time for a specific purpose
  • Always follow up to make sure someone has seen it and is working on an answer.  If possible, always address the request to a specific person even if that person will not be the person to provide the information.  Scrum Masters are good options for this as they can facilitate the flow of information.
  • Be sure that you respond to any requests that you receive in the same way that you would like others to respond to you.  The Christian saying of "Do unto others as you would have them do to yourself" is wise on a many levels and always a good concept to keep in mind.

Now to answer your original question.  Sure you can do a Scrum of Scrums with 2 teams.  But a Scrum of Scrums and all variants that I am aware is just a time for a representative from multiple teams to communicate on cross team interactions.  Do you really need to make it that formal if you could just get people from both teams to communicate as the need arises?