Scrum at Scale (Scrum@Scale) is a framework that Scrum teams use to address complex problems and deliver high-value products. Scrum at Scale was created through a joint venture between the Scrum Alliance and Scrum Inc. The joint venture was overseen by Jeff Sutherland, a co-creator of Scrum and one of the principal authors of the Agile Manifesto.
Understanding Scrum at Scale
It is based on many of the fundamental principles of Scrum. It also borrows concepts from complex adaptive theory, game theory, and object-oriented technology.
Fundamentally, Scrum at Scale reduces the complexity that often results when additional teams form in a typical hierarchy as a business expands. It applies the concept of scaling to teams, teams of teams, networks of teams, and so on.
The three core concepts of Scrum at Scale
Scrum at Scale is a means of coordinating multiple teams based on three core concepts:
- Small teams. High performing Scrum teams typically consist of three to nine people. However, Sutherland recommends Scrum@Scale teams be limited to four to five people. Smaller group sizes reduce complexity.
- Organization-wide scaling. Scrum at Scale advocates linear scalability. In other words, if 5 teams can complete 20 projects annually, then 10 teams should be able to complete 40 projects.
- Minimum viable bureaucracy (MVB). This is an agile approach where businesses maintain efficiency and consistency at scale without hindering creativity. A primary impediment to MVB is the tendency for teams to spend up to 75% of their time on zero value tasks. Bureaucracy attributed to a hierarchal management structure is another factor. Here, Sutherland’s primary intention is to reduce the time associated with decision making and execution.
Components of Scrum at Scale
Scrum at Scale incorporates two cycles that help multiple teams coordinate their efforts along a single path.
The traditional roles of Scrum Master and Product Owner based on competencies defined in the Scrum Guide are present. However, new roles, teams, and events have been introduced to facilitate the team of teams concept unique to Scrum at Scale.
Scrum Master Cycle
The Scrum Master Cycle incorporates:
- Scrum of Scrums (SOS) – a new Scrum team “responsible for a fully integrated set of potentially shippable increments of product at the end of every Sprint from all participating teams”. Scrum of Scrums teams usually consists of three to five people.
- Scrum of Scrums Master (SoSM) – the person responsible for removing impediments to coordination between Scrum of Scrums teams.
- Scaled Daily Scrum (SDS) – a new event where the Scrum Master from each team comes together to discuss impediments to Sprint Goals and identify or resolve dependencies between each team.
- Executive Action Team (EAT) – whose role is to remove impediments that SOS teams cannot remove because of a lack of political or financial clout.
Product Owner Cycle
Scrum at Scale also introduces new roles and concepts in the product owner role:
- MetaScrum – or a group of product owners who coordinate a shared backlog that feeds a network of Scrum teams. The main function of the MetaScrum is to create a vision for a product and make it visible to the organization. The group must also create alignment and garner support for backlog implementation.
- Chief Product Owner – a new role for a single person who is responsible for the coordination of a single product backlog. If the MetaScrum is scaled for up to 25 teams, then another management role must be created to oversee each of the Chief Product Owners.
- Scrum at Scale is a framework where networks of Scrum teams use the Scrum guide to address complex problems while delivering the maximum value possible.
- Scrum at Scale incorporates three components: small teams, organizational-wide scaling, and minimum viable bureaucracy. Each component helps coordinate multiple teams.
- Scrum at Scale introduces several new roles, events, and teams in both the Scrum Master Cycle and Product Owner Cycle.
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