Howto organize large projects with Scrum? SoS!
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More and more companies are interested in the Agile organization of projects with Scrum. As a result I am regularly asked what the maximum size of a Scrum team is and whether the size limits the maximum capacity of projects.
The short answer to that is yes and no: yes, there is a maximum size of an efficient self-managing Scrum team. However, because a Scrum organization is scalable, this has no influence on the maximum project capacity. Even large projects can be organized using Scrum.
A Scrum team is self-organizing
An efficient and self-managing Scrum team ideally consists of 5 to 8 team members. The team members are often generalist specialists who, in addition to their own expertise, are able to look beyond the boundaries of their own specialism. So they also have the soft skills to work collaboratively. Had the Magnificent Seven could ever function as a Scrum team?
The Chief PO decides and the Scrum Master coaches
Of course, a Scrum team of a maximum of about 8 members has a limited capacity. However, agile working according to scrum is scalable by using SOS. That means not in this case Help! but: Scrum of Scrum. A project organization in which multiple Scrum teams work together on a project in parallel. Each of these teams has its own Scrum Master and Product Owner. For the coordination of activities, communication between the teams is an important responsibility and task of the Chief Scrum Master who therefore regularly Scrum or Scrum meeting is organizing.
Depending on the status and need of a project, the frequency is several times a week or weekly and it is the Product Owner, Scrum Master or one of the team members who represent their team in the Convene Scrum or Scrum meeting.
How decisions from one team might impact the other team
Analogous to the setup of the Daily Standup meeting, the following questions are answered by the representative of each team at the start of the Scrum of Scrums meeting:
- what has your team been working on since last Scrum or Scrum meeting?
- what will your team finish until the next one Scrum or Scrum meeting?
- what obstacles are there that the other teams can help with?
- What decisions have been made in your team that may affect other teams?
After which, in contrast to the Daily standup meeting, there is not only coordination during the Scrum of Scrums, but often solutions are also sought.
From Scrum or Scrum to alternative methods
Just like a maximum number of scrum team members, the number of scrum teams in a Scrum of Scrums is also limited. As soon as more than 10 teams work within a Scrum or Scrums, they are split into scrum-or-scrum-or-scrums. So there are parallel Scrum or Scrums. The coordination of a scrum-of-scrum-of-scrums has its own challenges. And because the Scrum of Scrums offers (too) little guidance here as a tool, alternative methods have been developed over time for the implementation of large projects. Below SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework), LeSS (Large Scale Scrum) and the Spotify model.
Some of these methods are suitable for large organizations while others are better for organizing large projects in smaller companies. In addition, a model such as LeSS, for example, is more of a framework of principles, while SAFe, for example, describes almost a complete blueprint in detail. However, what they all have in common is that they allow (scrum) teams to work together in parallel in a coordinated manner: Scrum or Scrums.
Analogous to scaling projects, programs, collections of similar projects, and portfolios, collections of programs can also be well organized in the Scrum way, more about that in a later blog.
Scrum teams are therefore limited to a maximum of 10 members per team, but Scrum projects can be scaled by structuring them as pure Scrum or Scrums, SoS, or depending on the organization one of the variants as indicated above.
By: Merijn Visman