Large-Scale Scrum : One Product
Since I first learned about Scrum from Ken Schwaber in 2003, one of the biggest issues surrounded how to effectively reach the goal of delivering more business value faster when the organization has more than two or three teams. Scrum is a small team methodology and there is very little help for the larger organization in Scrum. I remember going to a Scrum Gathering in Minneapolis several years ago hoping to get some help with this problem from a keynote address on Scaling Scrum, but alas I was disappointed!
Two Scrum trainers and coaches who have worked extensively in Asia for the last couple of decades, Craig Larman and Bas Vodde, have published two books with the third on the way about the approaches they have discovered working, experimenting and succeeding with numerous large teams to develop a principles based framework named LeSS or simply Large-Scale Scrum. Their experiment based approach, guides framework and principle are unparalleled in the Agile community. Quite frankly, if you are trying to implement Scrum in a team with more than 30 members and are not using LeSS, you are not using the best advice available and will likely have poorer results than you may have experienced in smaller Scrum implementations.
“Since 2005, we've worked with clients to apply the LeSS (Large-Scale Scrum) framework for scaling Scrum, lean and agile development to big product groups. We share that experience and knowledge through LeSS so that you too can succeed when scaling.” – Craig Larman & Bas Vodde
This will be the first of several posts I will author over the next several weeks that discuss the basics of LeSS and I invite your questions and discussion about Large-Scale Scrum. If you are interested in learning more vist LeSS.works , we have arranged for Craig Larman to conduct several instances of his Certified LeSS Practitioner Course this year in the Western US and you can get more information and register at Scaling Scrum with Less .
My first topic will be the fundamental conditions or perquisites that an organization should consider when implementing a Large-Scale Scrum product team.
Firstly, LeSS is Scrum. LeSS is Large-Scale Scrum and the individual Scrum Teams with 7 +/- 2 members will be using regular Scrum. All of the team members should be trained and experienced using Scrum to develop their product. Most organizations feel that a Scrum Alliance Certified ScrumMaster course offers the Scrum basics teams need to get started.
Scrum has three roles, ScrumMaster, Product Owner and Team Member. These roles exist in LeSS, but there are some rules, that are really basic Scrum, but warrant some special attention when implementing LeSS. One note, in this article, I will not be discussing LeSS Huge or Large-Scale Scrum beyond about 8 Scrum Teams, but rather LeSS which experience shows is effective up to about 8 Scrum Teams.
Scrum and LeSS require one Product Owner. This single Product Owner would be responsible for One Product. This One Product would have One Product Backlog. If this one Product Backlog has more work than one Scrum Team can complete in an acceptable time frame, and if the budget exists and the team members exist, the organization would be at the point of making the decision to create multiple Scrum Teams.
Each Scrum Team would have One ScrumMaster. Professional, experienced ScrumMasters can handle up to three teams depending upon the maturity of the Scrum Teams.
These LeSS rules form the basis for Large-Scale Scrum and adherence to these rules is the only path that I know of to focus the attention of the organization in such a way that 3 to 8 Scrum Teams can approach the productivity of a single Scrum Team.
The single Product Owner maintaining a single Product Backlog creates the focus for the single Product. All Scrum Teams would pull from that single Product Backlog. This focus across all the Scrum Teams reduces the impact of dependencies, gives all Scrum Teams authority to work on the One Product collaborating with all the other teams.
This foundation of One Product, One Product Owner, One Product Backlog and One ScrumMaster for each Scrum Team is just the beginning. In future articles I will go into more detail about how this is accomplished and how to scale Scrum with LeSS!
Here is the schedule for Craig’s courses later this year. Feel free to contact us with any questions and to ask about our team discounts!
Austin (Round Rock) – July 29-31
Kansas City (Overland Park) – August 10-12
Portland Oregon – September 21-23
Seattle (Redmond) – December 2-4
Phoenix – December 7-9