Scrum of Scrums — everything you need to know

Scrum of scums guide

There are times when a work project may require more than five people, so your typical daily Scrum team meeting won’t fully accommodate your needs. So what can you do in these situations?

An efficient solution to this challenge is a Scrum of Scrums, a meeting that can involve more people and different departments to support your teams’ agility and enhance productivity, collaboration, and coordination.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

What is Scrum of Scrums?

Scrum of Scrums (also called a Scrum of Scrums meeting) is a way to scale Scrum methodology so that several different Scrum teams on a large project can meet and work efficiently together.

Scrum teams are designed to be nimble. Small teams communicate better, adjust to change more easily, and are more productive. That’s why the Scrum Guide recommends Scrum teams have no more than 10 team members. If a project is so large that a small team can’t handle it, then it’s better to have multiple small teams.

With any large project with lots of people involved, meetings can be problematic. Even more so in Scrum — where the main goal is to break down large projects into sprints of one month or less. The Scrum of Scrums meeting enables each of the multiple small Scrum teams on a large project to send ambassadors to meet together as a unified, collaborative Scrum team and still be true to the values in the Agile Manifesto.

During the Scrum of Scrums, representatives of each team (who also rotate over time) will convene to discuss different aspects in relation to a project. These discussions may cover topics such as recent achievements, future goals, current challenges, and implemented solutions in progress. Though the frequency of Scrum of Scrums meetings is ultimately the team’s decision, these meetings typically take place weekly or biweekly.

Scrum team flow chart

The history of Scrum of Scrums

Product managers Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber pioneered the Scrum of Scrums approach in 1996. This new methodology’s goal was created to improve coordination among eight units, each with multiple product lines.

Sutherland and Schwaber realized that operating separate Scrum teams for each unit was disrupting the workflow between units. To solve this problem, they unified all eight product teams to facilitate a better alignment of their individual efforts. This is what ended up resulting in an innovative approach to scaling Scrum teams.

Satisfied with the experiment’s success, Sutherland published an article in 2001 titled Agile can scale: inventing and reinventing Scrum in five companies. This article introduced the term Scrum of Scrums to the public for the first time.

After the article was released, the Scrum of Scrums methodology gained recognition and ultimately became a key method in team management.

The purpose of Scrum of Scrums

The Scrum of Scrums primarily aims to scale Scrum practices by syncing the efforts of smaller, individual teams around a joint project. Other purposes of the Scrum of Scrums meeting include:

The benefits of Scrum of Scrums

If you’re considering adopting the Scrum of Scrums method in your organization, it’s beneficial to understand the potential advantages this meeting strategy can offer to you and your teams:

Who is involved in a Scrum of Scrums?

The participants in the Scrum of Scrums are flexible, but it is important to keep in mind that the meeting itself should mirror the structure and roles of a traditional Scrum meeting — only at a larger scale.

While these roles are conventional in Scrum of Scrums meetings, other roles might be necessary depending on the project’s needs, such as a quality assurance professional.

Scrum of Scrums is a scaled Agile meeting technique that offers a way to connect multiple teams who need to work together to deliver complex solutions.

How often to do a Scrum of Scrums

The team will decide the scheduling of the Scrum of Scrums meeting. These meetings could be daily or weekly, but they should not exceed 15 minutes in duration. Yet, a team may realize over time that the frequency of the meetings can be reduced. In addition, Scrum of Scrums meetings should adhere to a similar structure and duration as regular Scrum meetings.

Another crucial aspect to consider is that if a project issue surfaces and it requires immediate attention and discussion, the Scrum team should convene as soon as possible. This means that even though a Scrum of Scrums meeting is usually expected to be a maximum of 15 minutes, teams should allocate extra time to address any other potential issues that may arise.

A Scrum of Scrums agenda

To ensure the productivity of your Scrum of Scrums meetings, you need to maintain a structured agenda. This agenda should keep track of those topics and questions that need to be addressed, and team representatives should be ready to answer them. Some examples of typical questions to ask during a Scrum of Scrums meeting are:

Scrum of Scrums best practices

Here are some best practices and strategies you can implement in your Scrum of Scrums to get the best and most optimized result out of your meeting.

Getting started with a Scrum of Scrums

Making sure your teams are able to have collaborative, productive conversations is a key part of increasing efficiency in your workflow.

When you’re ready to get started, decide on which team members will represent their Scrum team in the Scrum of Scrums and plan your first meeting.

Adobe Workfront makes it easy for you to work and drives better collaboration with your teams so they can deliver measurable business outcomes.

To find out how Workfront can help you set up and organize Scrum of Scrums meetings, watch the overview video or take a product tour.