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Scrum at Scale for Better Organization Agility

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Organizations that have gone Agile often started small; taking it one step at a time, from project to project and team to team. And this is the right way to go about an Agile transformation, as Scrum as described in the Scrum Guide is for single teams.  

Often a massive enterprise-wide Agile transformation does not succeed because the organization is not adequately equipped to cope with the changes that come with the transformation. But as more and more organizations realized the benefits of going Agile there was an apparent need for a framework that would allow seamless transformation at a large scale.  

Frameworks like Scaled Agile, LeSS and [email protected] are some of the well-known and proven frameworks that have helped many an organization to successfully transition to agile and reap the benefits of long-term agility. In this blog, we attempt to look at [email protected] and the principles and processes behind this widely adopted framework.

What is [email protected] and Why Do We Need It?

Scrum was created out of a need for better software development processes. There was a need to provide developers with a methodology and a set of techniques that would not just make the process of software development easier but would empower the teams, the organization as well as the customers to align and work better. Scrum also addressed the issues that several legacy applications and frameworks couldn’t. And that was to make an organization more adaptable, more responsive and attuned to customer needs. The incremental and iterative nature of Scrum allowed for fast releases, quick turnaround times, less errors and more satisfied customers.  

But as organizations, projects and deliveries grew, it necessitated the need for multiple teams to adopt and work with Scrum. But this is easier said than done. While Scrum works great for individual teams, scaling it to multiple teams and the entire organization is a whole other ball game.  

While Scrum was being successfully adopted by single teams, allowing them to develop and release complex projects, it was observed that when more teams tried to work with Scrum and deliver the same quality and work, the effort wasn’t always successful. They were not able to respond at the same speed which in turn hampered business agility. Multiple teams were also not able to deliver the proportionate amount of work.  

The need to find a solution to successfully replicate the benefits of agile to the whole organization and transform the culture at an enterprise-wide scale led to the creation of Agile scaling frameworks, like [email protected] that brought in the benefits of Scrum to the entire organization.  

[email protected] (n): A framework within which networks of Scrum teams operating consistently with the Scrum Guide can address complex adaptive problems, while creatively delivering products of the highest possible value—[email protected] Guide 

History of Scrum

[email protected] was developed by two stalwart organizations of Scrum Agile—Scrum Inc. and Scrum Alliance, under the guidance of Dr. Jeff Sutherland, one of the co-creators of Scrum and co-author of the Agile Manifesto. Its aim was to provide organizations with Scrum and Agile benefits such as: 

  • Help multiple teams work on prioritized goals 
  • Help in business agility and respond fast to changing requirements 
  • Help teams and networks to grow without hampering productivity 
  • Empower team members to be more self-organized 
  • Increase speed and productivity

What Are the Core Concepts of [email protected]?

[email protected] BUILDS ON THE SAME VALUE-DRIVEN CULTURE AS SCRUM: Openness, Courage, Focus, Respect, and Commitment—Atlassian Agile Coach 

[email protected], at the end of the day, is still Scrum. Any organization that wants to implement [email protected] must already be agile and be aware of Scrum. [email protected] is lightweight, and simple to understand though may be difficult to implement.  

[email protected] is based on three core concepts: 

  • Small Teams: Small teams are critical not just to Scrum but even to [email protected] Within multiple teams, each team should have between three to nine members. 
  • Scaling across the entire organization: The better individual teams function, more is the likelihood of [email protected] implementation success. 
  • Applying minimum viable bureaucracy: It’s a well-known fact that bureaucracy and red tape lengthens processes. Agile organizations trying to scale cannot afford to take too much time on decisions. Minimum viable bureaucracy refers to the time taken to decide and execute. This approach helps small teams navigate through obstacles and bottlenecks.  

The [email protected] aims to ensure successful organizations, and this it does by defining Scrum values of: 

  • Openness 
  • Courage 
  • Focus 
  • Respect 
  • Commitment. 

[email protected] Components

The Components of the Scrum@Scale™ Framework

[email protected] is a lightweight framework and has components that help organizations better implement Scrum at scale. [email protected] can be split into two components or cycles: 

  • The Scrum Master cycle ‘the how’: This cycle defines the ‘how’ accountability of the framework and includes: 
    • Team Level Process: The goals of the team level process are: 
      • Maximize the flow of completed and quality tested work  
      • Attempt to increase velocity a little each sprint 
      • Operate in a way that is sustainable and enriching for the team—[email protected] Guide 

The team level process introduces the Scrum of Scrums, which is a Scrum team which is responsible for releasing a potentially releasable increment at the end of every sprint. This increment is integrated and consists of the sprint goals released by all the teams that are compromised in the Scrum of Scrums. There is also a new role called Scrum of Scrum Masters and an event called the Scaled Daily Scrum that make up the team level process.  

  • The Scrum of Scrums Master: The SoSM helps the organization in the following ways according to the [email protected] Guide: 
    • Ensures that the SoS teams’ increments can be integrated each Sprint 
    • Prioritizes the backlog of impediments 
    • Is accountable for eliminating impediments 
    • Can be one of the team SMs or someone external to the teams 
    • Works closely with the Product Owners to coordinate the team’s Deployment with their Release Plans
  • Scaling the SoS: For very large organizations there may be a need to implement more than one SoS when a complex project has to be delivered. For this multiple Scrum of Scrums, called a Scrum of Scrum of Scrums (SoSoS) can be created.  

The Executive Action Team: “The Scrum of Scrums enables a network design of Scrum teams which is infinitely scalable. The Scrum of Scrums for the entire agile organization is called the Executive Action Team (EAT). The EAT is the final stop for impediments that cannot be removed by the SoS’s that feed it”—[email protected] Guide 

The Scrum Master cycle helps in continuous improvement, removal of impediments, cross team co-ordination and deployment. 

  • The Product Owner cycle ‘the what’: This cycle defines the ‘what’ accountability of the framework and includes: 
  • MetaScrum:  MetaScrum is the team created by multiple product owners working on a single product backlog. While it may seem difficult for Product Owners from multiple teams to work on a single product backlog, the priorities are aligned, thus allowing POs to co-ordinate their backlogs along a single path. 

Chief Product Owner:  A single person who is responsible for coordinating the generation of a single overall Product Backlog for all of the teams covered by the MetaScrum. This person is designated as the Chief Product Owner— [email protected] Guide 

  • Executive MetaScrum: Once the MetaScrum is created and a network of Product Owners is established, it can be scaled without boundaries, for the entire organization. This MetaScrum for the entire organization is called Executive MetaScrum. 

Product Owner Cycle

The components of the Product Owner cycle 

  • Strategic Vision 
  • Backlog Prioritization 
  • Backlog Decomposition 
  • Release Planning 

The Product Owner cycle helps the organization to identify business and strategic goals, update based on customer feedback, break down complex and large projects into manageable tasks, maintain transparency with stakeholders etc.

Where Do the Two Cycles Connect?

[email protected] Roles

The roles in [email protected] are similar to the roles that exist in Scrum along with a few additional roles that align with the Team of Teams concept.   

  • Scrum Master 
  • Product Owner 
  • Chief Product Owner: The CPO’s role is very similar to a POs role, but at scale. This role helps to drive production across multiple teams in an aligned manner. CPOs also co-ordinate priorities among the various POs who work with individual teams. CPOs help to: 
    • Set the vision for the product 
    • Create and manage a single product backlog that is derived from value derived from all the teams 
    • Adjust the backlog based on feedback  
  • Scrum of Scrums Master: Just like the Scrum Master’s main responsibility is to remove impediments that may block the work of the teams, so is the role of the Scrum of Scrums Master to ensure that there are impediments that stop the release of a fully developed shippable increment.

[email protected] Events

[email protected] like Scrum has events that are an important part of getting it right. 

These include: 

  • The Sprint 
  • Sprint planning 
  • Scaled Daily Scrum 
  • Sprint Review 
  • Retrospective 

The only thing that is different here from Scrum is the Scaled Daily Scrum. This, like the Daily Scrum in Scrum is an everyday meeting that must be attended by a representative from each team. The whole team attending is not needed as this will lead to too many people being present, hence only one person, who is up to date with what’s happening in his/her respective teams, needs to attend. 

The Scaled Daily Scrum is a 15-minute meeting and gets members together to discuss on bottlenecks or problems that may hinder the teams from reaching their sprint goal, knowledge sharing and maintaining transparency and trust between all teams.

How Does [email protected] Fit in the Overall Organizational Design?

[email protected] is designed to scale productivity in the entire organization. Not just the development tea, but it should permeate across departments including HR, Legal, Finance, C-suite and others. [email protected] allows for re-aligning of departments in response to market needs along with linear scaling. But in these times where distributed teams are the norm, it is a must for scaling frameworks to ensure that distributed teams are also well managed and the benefits they provide are assimilated. [email protected] helps do this while also giving the organization the power to scale or contract on an as-needed basis. When done well, [email protected] can ensure the smooth running of the entire organization.  

Conclusion 

Dr Jeff Sutherland developed [email protected] by basing it on the fundamental principles that make up Scrum. It has now been implemented by organizations around the world—from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies who are gaining the benefits of Scrum at an enterprise scale without compromising on cost, quality or timelines.  

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