Nov 1st, 2016

How multiple scrum teams coordinate to resolve dependencies?


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I presented my experience with LeSS (Large-Scale Scrum) implementation through various conferences this year. Got very good feedback as well. But people were having many questions regarding team coordination so thought of sharing my experience here. See below some of the most frequently asked questions.
  • One Product Owner and multiple development team – How is that possible? One PO won’t be available for multiple teams at the same time. How do multiple teams coordinate with a single PO?
  • One Scrum Master for more than one team – It will not work because SM should be full-time to resolve impediments else the team may get stuck. How is that possible?
  • The development team should resolve dependencies – Isn’t it job of Scrum Master and Scrum Master to resolve it through Scrum of Scrums (SOS)?

My experience

2 years back I started working with a captive unit as an agile coach and did fairly well within 8 months of engagement. Helped team to adopt a LeSS-like structure with 120 people.

There we encountered similar scenarios about managing dependencies with multiple scrum teams. Yes we went through basic steps. Why there are so many dependencies?  

How to avoid those by multi-team refinement and planning? How engineering practices like A-TDD and CI can help here? We did lot many experiments to reduce dependencies but still, there were dependencies.

We accepted the fact that there will be some dependencies so better to figure out ways to address those effectively.

What did we do?

  • Scrum of Scrums (SOS) – Since I was aware of the potential misuse of this practice so we named it differently. Our meeting name was chai per Charcha (inspired by the BJP election campaign - 2014). We have it for 30 mins every day and are open for everyone. Anyone can join but it wasn’t mandatory. Was it successful? Not much. Was it useful? Somehow.
  • Walk and talk – Reach-out to your team member and talk. Don’t know whom to reach out? Talk to your peer/SM. This was the best.
  • Weekly Informal Session – Scheduled for 2 hours every week on Friday. This was done after hearing complain regarding less visibility of overall product progress. Later on platform to share learning and experiment.
  • Let’s enable code to talk – ATDD and continuous Integration practices. Work on mainline and feature toggling.
  • Travelers – There were some challenges in regards to skills. To solve those challenges we came up with concept of travelers to manage skills gap.


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