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 Scrum@Scale 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 Scrum@Scale and the principles and processes behind this widely adopted framework.
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 Scrum@Scale that brought in the benefits of Scrum to the entire organization.
Scrum@Scale (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—Scrum@Scale Guide
Scrum@Scale 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:
SCRUM@SCALE BUILDS ON THE SAME VALUE-DRIVEN CULTURE AS SCRUM: Openness, Courage, Focus, Respect, and Commitment—Atlassian Agile Coach
Scrum@Scale, at the end of the day, is still Scrum. Any organization that wants to implement Scrum@Scale must already be agile and be aware of Scrum. Scrum@Scale is lightweight, and simple to understand though may be difficult to implement.
Scrum@Scale is based on three core concepts:
The Scrum@Scale aims to ensure successful organizations, and this it does by defining Scrum values of:
Scrum@Scale is a lightweight framework and has components that help organizations better implement Scrum at scale. Scrum@Scale can be split into two components or cycles:
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.
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”—Scrum@Scale Guide
The Scrum Master cycle helps in continuous improvement, removal of impediments, cross team co-ordination and deployment.
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— Scrum@Scale 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.
The components of the Product Owner cycle
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.
Team Level processes
Metrics and Transparency
Product Release and Feedback
The roles in Scrum@Scale are similar to the roles that exist in Scrum along with a few additional roles that align with the Team of Teams concept.
Scrum@Scale like Scrum has events that are an important part of getting it right.
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.
Scrum@Scale 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. Scrum@Scale 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. Scrum@Scale helps do this while also giving the organization the power to scale or contract on an as-needed basis. When done well, Scrum@Scale can ensure the smooth running of the entire organization.
Dr Jeff Sutherland developed Scrum@Scale 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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