What is Scrum@Scale?

Learn about Scrum@Scale from the basics to implementation. Discover the benefits and challenges of scaling Scrum effectively.

Definition of Scrum@Scale

Scrum@Scale is a framework designed to scale Scrum across multiple teams, departments, and organizations. Developed by Dr. Jeff Sutherland, the co-creator of Scrum, it handles the complexities and coordination required for large-scale Scrum implementations.

The Need for Scaling Scrum

As organizations grow and their software portfolios become more complex, they must implement an enterprise-wide standardization for software development and delivery to mitigate costs and risks, enhance coordination across teams, ensure consistent quality, and accelerate time-to-market. Here are some reasons for scaling Scrum:

  1. Increased Complexity: As projects become more complex, more than a single Scrum team may be required to handle all the necessary tasks and coordination. Scaling Scrum allows multiple teams to work together efficiently.
  2. Collaboration Across Teams: Large organizations often have multiple teams working on many different elements of software development. Scaling Scrum facilitates better collaboration and coordination among these teams, ensuring everyone is aligned and working towards the same goals.
  3. Consistent Practices: Scaling Scrum helps standardize practices across the organization, ensuring that all teams follow the same principles and processes. This consistency improves overall efficiency and quality.
  4. Faster Delivery: Organizations can achieve faster delivery times by scaling Scrum. Multiple teams working in parallel can complete larger projects more quickly than a single team.
  5. Better Resource Utilization: Scaling allows for better resource allocation and utilization. Teams can share knowledge, tools, and expertise, leading to more effective problem-solving and innovation.
  6. Enhanced Flexibility: Scaled Scrum frameworks, such as Scrum@Scale, enable organizations to remain flexible and responsive to change, even at large scales. This adaptability is crucial in today’s fast-paced business environment.
  7. Enhanced Flexibility: Scaled Scrum frameworks, such as Scrum@Scale, enable organizations to remain flexible and responsive to change, even at large scales. This adaptability is crucial in today’s fast-paced business environment.
  8. Alignment with Business Goals: Scaling ensures that teams align with the organization’s strategic goals and objectives. This alignment helps deliver products that meet market needs and business expectations.

Basics of Scrum Methodology

Scrum@Scale focuses on maintaining the core principles of Scrum, such as flexibility, transparency, and efficiency, while addressing issues related to scaling. It introduces two primary cycles: the Scrum Master Cycle, which focuses on continuous improvement and delivery, and the Product Owner Cycle, which concentrates on aligning the vision, backlog, and value delivery across the organization. By implementing Scrum@Scale, organizations can achieve better alignment, increased productivity, and higher quality in their product development processes.

Overview of Scrum

Scrum@Scale aims to help organizations deliver value more efficiently, improve coordination, and enhance agility across multiple teams and departments.

Important Terminologies in Scrum

Understanding these terminologies can help organizations better implement and manage Scrum@Scale, ensuring they maintain Agile principles while scaling Scrum practices across multiple teams and departments.

Term Definition
Scrum of Scrums (SoS) A coordination meeting where representatives from multiple Scrum teams discuss progress, impediments, and dependencies to ensure team alignment and synchronization.
Executive Action Team (EAT) A leadership team responsible for creating and maintaining an environment that supports Agile practices. They address systemic impediments and ensure organizational support for Scrum.
Executive MetaScrum (EMS) The EMS is a forum for aligning strategic priorities and making high-level decisions. It includes the Chief Product Owner and key stakeholders who work together to ensure all teams align with the organization’s goals.
Chief Product Owner (CPO) The Chief Product Owner is responsible for managing the strategic vision and alignment of product backlogs across all teams. The CPO ensures that the overall product direction aligns with the organization’s goals.
MetaScrum Backlog A high-level backlog managed by the CPO contains strategic initiatives and high-priority items assigned across multiple teams.
Impediment Backlog The EAT manages a list of systemic impediments that affect multiple teams. This backlog helps prioritize and address issues that hinder the organization’s overall efficiency.
Scaled Daily Scrum (SDS) A daily synchronization meeting at a higher level where representatives from each team discuss progress, impediments, and dependencies is similar to the Daily Scrum but focused on team coordination.
Scaled Retrospective A regular event where representatives from multiple teams gather to reflect on and improve the overall process, focusing on systemic issues and opportunities for improvement. The Scrum@Scale framework consists of several key elements designed to scale Scrum across multiple teams and departments while maintaining the core principles of Scrum: The Scrum Master Cycle and the Product Owner Cycle. Each role manages the artifacts and events within its perspective cycles.
Product Owner Sync A meeting where Product Owners align their priorities, coordinate efforts and manage dependencies across teams to synchronize their backlogs.
Agile Operating System (AOS) The overarching system encompasses all the processes, roles, and practices used to scale Agile across the organization, ensuring that Agile principles are applied consistently and effectively.
Sprint A time-boxed period (usually 2-4 weeks) during which a potentially releasable product increment is created. Each team works within its Sprint cycle, contributing to the organization’s overall goals.
Scrum Master Cycle One of the two main cycles in Scrum@Scale focuses on continuous improvement, operational efficiency, and removing impediments to ensure that teams can work effectively.
Product Owner Cycle The second main cycle in Scrum@Scale focuses on strategic alignment, prioritization, and value delivery to ensure all teams are working toward strategic objectives.
Definition of Done (DoD) A shared understanding among the Scrum teams of what it means for a product increment to be complete. The DoD ensures consistency and quality across all teams.
Cross-Functional Team A team composed of members with different skill sets who work together to deliver a complete product increment. Cross-functional teams are essential for achieving the goals of Scrum@Scale.

Understanding these terminologies can help organizations better implement and manage Scrum@Scale, ensuring they maintain Agile principles while scaling Scrum practices across multiple teams and departments.

Scrum Framework: Roles, Artifacts, and Events

The Scrum@Scale framework consists of several key elements designed to scale Scrum across multiple teams and departments while maintaining the core principles of Scrum: The Scrum Master Cycle and the Product Owner Cycle. Each role manages the artifacts and events within its perspective cycles.

Scrum Master Cycle Product Owner Cycle Common Elements
The Scrum Master Cycle, which focuses on continuous improvement and operational efficiency, includes artifacts like the Impediment Backlog and events such as the Scrum of Scrums, Scaled Daily Scrum, Executive Action Team, and Scaled Retrospective. The Product Owner Cycle, which ensures strategic alignment and value delivery, encompasses artifacts like the MetaScrum Backlog and events such as the Executive MetaScrum and Product Owner Sync. The Product Owner Cycle focuses on strategic alignment, prioritization, and value delivery, ensuring that all teams work toward the organization’s strategic objectives and deliver the highest priority items. Central to this cycle is the MetaScrum Backlog, a high-level backlog managed by the Chief Product Owner (CPO) that contains strategic initiatives and high-priority items to be delivered across multiple teams, aligning the product direction with the organization’s goals. Key events in this cycle include the Executive MetaScrum (EMS), a forum for aligning strategic priorities and making high-level decisions involving the CPO and stakeholders who regularly review and adjust the MetaScrum Backlog to ensure strategic alignment and prioritization. Another crucial event is the Product Owner Sync, a meeting where Product Owners align their priorities, coordinate efforts, and manage dependencies across teams, ensuring synchronized backlogs and joint goal alignment, typically held weekly or as needed. Common elements in Scrum@Scale include the Sprint, Definition of Done (DoD), and Cross-Functional Teams.

Understanding Scale in Scrum

Scaling in Scrum refers to extending the principles, practices, and benefits of Scrum beyond individual teams to the entire organization. It involves coordinating multiple Scrum teams to work together seamlessly, aligning their efforts towards common goals, and managing the complexities that arise from larger projects and broader organizational contexts. The goal is to maintain Scrum’s agility, transparency, and efficiency while addressing the needs of larger and more complex environments.

Challenges and Benefits of Scaling Scrum

Benefits of Scaling in Scrum Challenges of Scaling in Scrum

Improved Coordination and Efficiency

  • Enhanced collaboration and team coordination lead to more efficient and effective project delivery.
  • Shared practices and consistent approaches help streamline processes and reduce waste.

Coordination and Communication

  • Effective communication across multiple teams can be difficult, leading to potential misalignment and misunderstandings.
  • Dependencies between teams need to be managed carefully to avoid delays and bottlenecks.
Faster Delivery of Value

  • Multiple teams working in parallel can deliver larger and more complex projects more quickly than a single team.
  • Incremental delivery ensures that value is provided to stakeholders continuously.
Maintaining Consistency

  • Standardizing practices and maintaining a consistent Definition of Done (DoD) across teams can be challenging.
  • Ensuring all teams adhere to Scrum principles while adapting them to their specific contexts requires careful balance.
Greater Flexibility and Adaptability

  • Scaled Scrum allows organizations to remain agile and responsive to changes in market and customer needs.
  • The ability to pivot, reprioritize, and adapt quickly is maintained even at larger scales.
Managing Complexity

  • Larger projects and broader scopes introduce more complexity, making managing and delivering value incrementally harder.
  • Identifying and addressing systemic impediments becomes more challenging as the number of teams and interactions increases.
Enhanced Transparency and Visibility

  • Improved transparency and visibility across all levels of the organization lead to better decision-making and more informed stakeholders.
  • Regular reviews and synchronization meetings ensure that all progress and issues are visible.
Leadership and Governance

  • Providing effective leadership and governance while maintaining the self-organizing nature of Scrum teams can be difficult.
  • Balancing the need for oversight with empowering teams to make decisions requires strong leadership and a supportive culture.
Increased Innovation and Problem-Solving:

  • Cross-functional teams and collaborative environments foster innovation and creative problem-solving.
  • Sharing knowledge and expertise across teams leads to better solutions and improved outcomes.
Cultural and Organizational Resistance

  • Scaling Scrum requires cultural and organizational change, which can encounter resistance.
  • Overcoming entrenched habits and mindsets that must be aligned with Agile principles can be a big hurdle.
Alignment with Strategic Goals

  • Scaling Scrum ensures that all teams are aligned with the organization’s strategic objectives, leading to a more focused and cohesive effort.
  • Strategic alignment helps prioritize work that delivers the most value to the organization.

Implementing Scrum@Scale

Preparation for Scaling Scrum

The preparation phase is critical for ensuring a smooth and successful implementation of Scrum@Scale. This phase involves several key steps to assess readiness, secure buy-in, educate stakeholders, establish a vision, and form a transition team.

  • Assess Readiness: Assessing readiness involves evaluating the organization’s current level of Agile maturity by examining existing practices, processes, and culture. This includes conducting surveys, interviews, and workshops to gather insights from teams and stakeholders and identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of Agile adoption. Additionally, specific areas that need enhancement to support scaling, such as communication, collaboration, and cross-functional teamwork, are highlighted. A detailed report on the current state of Agile practices and areas for improvement is then developed to guide the transition process.
  • Executive Buy-In: Securing executive buy-in involves presenting the benefits of Scrum@Scale to senior leadership, emphasizing increased efficiency, better alignment with strategic goals, and improved value delivery. Other organizations’ success stories and case studies highlighting successful Scrum@Scale implementations are showcased to emphasize positive impact and secure commitment from executives.
  • Training and Education: Training and education involve providing comprehensive training on Scrum and Scrum@Scale principles for all team members, including Scrum Masters, Product Owners, and development teams. Specialized training is offered for executives and key stakeholders to help them understand their roles in the scaled framework, ensuring everyone is well-prepared and aligned with the new practices and processes.
  • Establishing a Vision: Creating a vision involves crafting a clear and convincing vision for implementing Scrum@Scale, detailing the anticipated advantages and results, and ensuring it is in line with the organization’s strategic aims and long-term objectives. This vision is disseminated widely throughout the organization via town hall meetings, internal newsletters, and specific communication platforms to guarantee that all team members comprehend and are in sync with the vision.
  • Create a Transition Team: Creating a transition team involves assembling a group of experienced Agile coaches, Scrum Masters, Product Owners, and change agents, ensuring they have a diverse skill set and representation from various departments and levels within the organization. This team is empowered with the authority to drive the implementation process and make necessary decisions. Additionally, they are provided with the resources and support needed to manage the transition effectively, ensuring a smooth and successful implementation of Scrum@Scale.
  • Identifying Metrics and KPIs: Identifying metrics and KPIs involves defining key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to measure the success of the Scrum@Scale. Regular monitoring and reporting mechanisms are established to track progress against these metrics, utilizing dashboards and reports to provide visibility into the implementation process and outcomes.
  • Cultural Assessment: Assessing the culture involves carefully evaluating the existing organizational culture to pinpoint any obstacles to adopting Agile methodologies. Surveys, focus groups, and cultural assessment tools are used to gather insights. Strategies are developed to foster an Agile culture to promote collaboration, transparency, and continuous improvement, with leadership encouraged to model Agile behaviors and practices.
  • Technology and Tools: Evaluating existing technology and tools involves assessing the current technology stack and tools used for project management, collaboration, and communication to identify gaps and opportunities for improvement. This assessment ensures that the tools in place can adequately support the implementation of Scrum@Scale and highlight areas where new tools or enhancements are needed to facilitate the scaled Agile practices.

Step-by-Step Guide to Implement Scrum@Scale

  1. Define Organizational Structure
    • Identify the roles in the Scrum@Scale framework, such as CPO and EAT.
    • Map out the structure of Scrum teams, including their interactions and dependencies.
  2. Set Up the Product Owner Cycle
    • Establish the MetaScrum Backlog, managed by the CPO, containing strategic initiatives and high-priority items.
    • Organize the Executive MetaScrum (EMS) meetings to align strategic priorities and make high-level decisions.
    • Schedule regular Product Owner Sync meetings to align priorities, coordinate efforts, and manage dependencies.
  3. Set Up the Scrum Master Cycle
    • Organize SoS meetings to coordinate progress, impediments, and dependencies among teams.
    • Establish SDS meetings for higher-level synchronization.
    • Form an EAT to address systemic impediments and ensure organizational support.
    • Schedule regular Scaled Retrospectives to identify and address systemic issues and opportunities for improvement.
  4. Pilot with a Few Teams
    • Start the implementation with a few pilot teams to test the Scrum@Scale framework.
    • Monitor progress, gather feedback, and make necessary adjustments
  5. Expand Gradually
    • Gradually expand the implementation to include more teams and departments.
    • Ensure that the Product Owner and Scrum Master cycles are functioning effectively at each level of expansion.
  6. Monitor and Adapt
    • Continuously monitor the progress and effectiveness of the Scrum@Scale implementation.
    • Use metrics and feedback to identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments
    • Hold regular retrospectives at both the team and organizational levels to ensure continuous improvement.
  7. Foster a Culture of Agility
    • Encourage a culture of collaboration, transparency, and continuous improvement across the organization.
    • Provide ongoing training and support to ensure all team members understand and embrace Scrum@Scale principles.
  8. Scale to the Entire Organization
    • Once the initial phases are successful, scale the Scrum@Scale framework to the entire organization.
    • Ensure that all teams, departments, and stakeholders are aligned with the Scrum@Scale framework and working towards common goals.

Metrics in Scrum at Scale

Metrics play an important role in Scrum@Scale’s successful implementation and ongoing operation of Scrum@Scale by providing quantitative data to assess performance, guide decision-making, and drive continuous improvement. The importance of metrics and the various types of metrics used in Scrum@Scale are detailed below:

Importance of Metrics

Metrics in Scrum@Scale are essential for providing objective insights into team performance, productivity, efficiency, and the quality of deliverables. They enable data-driven decisions, reduce guesswork, prioritize backlog items, manage resources, and identify areas needing attention. Metrics also highlight areas for improvement, supporting iterative process enhancements and the removal of impediments. Additionally, they promote transparency and accountability across teams and stakeholders by making progress and issues visible, facilitating better collaboration. Finally, metrics ensure that team efforts align with the organization’s strategic objectives, track progress toward goals, and guide necessary adjustments.

Various Metrics in Scrum at Scale

  • Team Velocity: Measures the amount of work a team can complete in a Sprint, helping to forecast future Sprints and plan releases.
  • Sprint Burndown Chart: This chart tracks the remaining work in a Sprint over time, visualizes progress, and helps identify potential issues early.
  • Release Burndown Chart: Shows the progress towards completing a release and is useful for tracking long-term progress and ensuring that the release is on schedule.
  • Cumulative Flow Diagram (CFD): This diagram displays the flow of work through different stages of the process and helps identify bottlenecks and improve workflow efficiency.
  • Cycle Time: Measures the time taken from when work starts on a task until it is completed and helps in understanding the efficiency of the development process and identifying delays.
  • Lead Time: Measures the total time from when a request is made until it is delivered and helps assess overall responsiveness and efficiency.
  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT): Measures the satisfaction of customers with the delivered product and provides direct feedback on the value delivered and areas that need enhancement.
  • Employee Engagement: Surveys and assessments to measure team morale and engagement. High engagement is often correlated with higher productivity and better outcomes.
  • Product Backlog Health: Assesses the state of the product backlog, including the clarity, size, and prioritization of backlog items, and ensures that the backlog is well-maintained and ready for upcoming Sprints.
  • Impediment Removal Rate: Tracks how quickly impediments are identified and resolved, indicating the efficiency of the Scrum Master Cycle in removing obstacles.
  • Value Delivered: Measures the actual business value delivered to customers, which can be assessed through metrics like Return on Investment (ROI) and Net Promoter Score (NPS).

Incorporating Scrum at Scale in Different Industries

Incorporating Scrum@Scale across different industries involves adapting the framework to meet industry-specific challenges while maintaining the core principles of Scrum. By leveraging the Product Owner Cycle and Scrum Master Cycle, organizations can achieve better alignment, coordination, and efficiency, ultimately delivering more value and maintaining agility at scale.

Industry Challenges Applications
Software Development
  • Managing large, complex codebases and integration across multiple teams.
  • Coordinating frequent releases and updates.
  • Ensuring high quality and security standards.
  • Product Owner Cycle: Aligns product backlogs with business priorities, ensuring features are delivered incrementally and valuable updates reach users regularly.
  • Scrum Master Cycle: Addresses technical impediments quickly, ensuring smooth integration and deployment processes. Regularly scheduled Scaled Daily Scrums and retrospectives help maintain quality and performance.
  • Coordinating patient care across multiple departments and specialists.
  • Integrating new technologies and compliance with regulations.
  • Managing complex supply chains and logistics.
  • Product Owner Cycle: Prioritizes initiatives like patient care improvements, regulatory compliance, and technology integrations. The MetaScrum Backlog helps align these initiatives with overall organizational goals.
  • Scrum Master Cycle: Ensures effective communication and coordination among medical teams, administrative staff, and IT departments. Impediments related to compliance and patient care logistics are addressed systematically.
  • Synchronizing production schedules and supply chains.
  • Implementing Lean principles alongside Agile methodologies.
  • Managing quality control and continuous improvement processes.
  • Product Owner Cycle: Aligns production goals with market demand and strategic business objectives. Prioritizes initiatives that enhance efficiency and reduce waste.
  • Scrum Master Cycle: Coordinates across production lines and departments, resolving impediments quickly to maintain flow and productivity. Scaled Retrospectives identify areas for process improvement.
  • Navigating regulatory changes and ensuring compliance.
  • Managing risk and security concerns.
  • Coordinating between diverse financial products and services.
  • Product Owner Cycle: Prioritizes regulatory compliance, risk management, and new product development. The MetaScrum Backlog ensures alignment with strategic financial goals.
  • Scrum Master Cycle: Addresses impediments related to regulatory changes and risk management swiftly. Ensures that all teams are coordinated and aligned in their efforts.
  • Integrating new educational technologies and methodologies.
  • Coordinating curriculum development across various departments.
  • Managing administrative and operational efficiency.
  • Product Owner Cycle: Prioritizes initiatives like curriculum development, technology integration, and student services. Ensures alignment with educational goals and standards.
  • Scrum Master Cycle: Facilitates coordination among educators, administrators, and IT staff. Addresses impediments related to technology adoption and curriculum implementation.
  • Managing supply chains and inventory.
  • Coordinating marketing, sales, and customer service efforts.
  • Implementing new technologies for better customer experience.
  • Product Owner Cycle: Aligns marketing, sales, and technology initiatives with customer needs and business objectives. Prioritizes inventory management and supply chain optimization.
  • Scrum Master Cycle: Ensures effective coordination among sales, marketing, and IT teams. Resolves impediments related to supply chain and technology integration quickly.
  • Coordinating complex projects like infrastructure development and maintenance.
  • Ensuring regulatory compliance and environmental sustainability.
  • Managing risk and safety concerns.
  • Product Owner Cycle: Aligns projects and initiatives with regulatory requirements and sustainability goals. The MetaScrum Backlog ensures strategic alignment across the organization.
  • Scrum Master Cycle: Facilitates coordination among engineering, compliance, and safety teams. Addresses impediments related to project management and regulatory compliance efficiently.

Challenges and the Digital.ai DevSecOps Platform for Scrum@Scale

As covered above, scaling Scrum across an organization presents several challenges, including ensuring effective coordination and communication among multiple teams, which can lead to misalignment and dependencies. Maintaining consistency in practices and the Definition of Done (DoD) across teams is difficult, as is managing the increased complexity that comes with larger projects and broader scopes. Providing effective leadership and governance while preserving the self-organizing nature of Scrum teams requires a delicate balance. Additionally, cultural and organizational resistance to Agile adoption, along with integrating new technologies and tools to support scaled practices, pose significant hurdles. Overcoming these challenges is essential for successfully implementing Scrum@Scale and achieving the desired agility and efficiency at scale.

Tips and Best Practices to Overcome Challenges

Digital.ai offers a comprehensive suite of integrated tools and solutions designed to streamline and automate various aspects of the Scrum@Scale framework, enabling organizations to successfully implement and manage scaled Agile practices. Here are the top 10 features and capabilities provided by Digital.ai:

  1. Integrated Tooling and Automation: Digital.ai provides native and custom integration frameworks between enterprise agile planning and management, development, application security, release orchestration, and deployment tools, Digital.ai helps reduce manual efforts and errors, increasing efficiency and consistency across teams.
  2. Comprehensive Visibility and Reporting: Digital.ai provides advanced analytics and reporting capabilities that offer comprehensive visibility into team performance, progress, and impediments. This transparency helps organizations make informed decisions, identify bottlenecks early, and ensure alignment with strategic goals.
  3. Robust Backlog Management: The platform supports robust backlog management, enabling Product Owners to prioritize and align backlog items with organizational objectives. Digital.ai’s tools facilitate effective team communication and coordination, ensuring that the most valuable items are delivered first.
  4. Scaled Daily Scrums and Collaboration: Digital.ai enhances collaboration through tools that support Scaled Daily Scrums and other coordination meetings. Features like real-time updates, collaborative workspaces, and communication platforms ensure that teams can synchronize effectively and address dependencies promptly.
  5. Continuous Improvement and Retrospectives: Digital.ai supports continuous improvement by providing tools for conducting effective retrospectives at both the team and organizational levels. The platform helps capture feedback, track action items, and measure the impact of changes, fostering a culture of ongoing improvement.
  6. Performance Metrics and Dashboards: The platform offers customizable dashboards that display key performance metrics, such as team velocity, cycle time, and defect density. These metrics provide valuable insights into team performance and process efficiency, helping organizations to continuously optimize their workflows.
  7. Agile Coaching and Best Principles: Digital.ai provides access to Agile coaching and best practices, helping organizations implement and scale Agile methodologies effectively. The platform offers resources and guidance on overcoming common challenges in scaling Scrum, ensuring that teams have the knowledge and skills needed for success.
  8. Governance and Compliance: The platform ensures that governance and compliance requirements are met by providing features for tracking and auditing processes. Digital.ai helps organizations maintain compliance with industry standards and regulations while scaling Agile practices, reducing risks and ensuring accountability.
  9. Automated and Customizable Workflows with Analytics: Digital.ai allows organizations to customize workflows to fit their specific needs and contexts. This flexibility ensures that the Scrum@Scale framework can be adapted to support unique organizational structures, processes, and goals, facilitating smoother implementation and adoption.
  10. AI-Powered Predictive Intelligence: Digital.ai offers AI-powered analytics to solve complex software delivery problems, combining data from both Digital.ai and third-party products into a single data lake. This integration makes information easier to find, group, and analyze risks and trends, ensuring the timely delivery of secure, quality mobile applications.

Learn more about how you scale agile across your organization to deliver secure, quality mobile applications with Digital.ai.