Day 6 of 100 Coordinating Teams With Backlog Management

April 29, 2013 — Posted by Al Shalloway

Continuing with the  100 Things You Must Know to Be Effective In Software Development.

One of the big banes and puzzles in Agile has been how to coordinate teams.  Scrum of scrums is still being espoused even though its track record is worse than abysmal.  Much of the reason for the insistence on a team of teams coordination model is due to:

  • the lack of understanding the importance of a holistic view
  • not truly appreciating the tribal nature of folks
  • misunderstanding the role of management in Agile

I will quickly cover these before pointing to an article that provides an example of multiple team coordination in an Agile space.  Later chapters will provide more information on these topics.

An holistic view is needed. Agile software development is about delivering increments of business value, not team iterations.  A bigger picture is needed.  Effective, efficient teams are only part of the picture.

Folks are tribal. Part of respecting people is to recognize that they are tribal in nature.  They will care more about their team than other teams.  This is not selfish or an indication of something wrong in the company's culture. It is just the way things are.

One of management's role is to create the big picture. Many agilists are managerphobic.  While micro-management is not good, absent management is also not good. Managers need to create the bigger picture within which the teams work because the teams will have a very difficult time doing so.

See Coordinating Teams With Backlog Management to learn the basic approach taught via a case study.

I assure you methods like this work.  They are guided by the principles of software development flow.

 

Al Shalloway
CEO, Net Objectives

Take the 100 in 100 Challenge. I'm committing to add one entry each day.  I'm asking people to accept the challenge of reading them.  If you accept this challenge, please enter a comment on the blog that started it all and tell me why you are taking up the challenge - that is, what you'd like to learn.

 

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About the author | Al Shalloway

Al Shalloway is the founder and CEO of Net Objectives. With 45 years of experience, Al is an industry thought leader in Lean, Kanban, product portfolio management, Scrum and agile design. He helps companies transition to Lean and Agile methods enterprise-wide as well teaches courses in these areas.


Comments

I'm in exactly your situation, scrum of scrums failed to achieve the cross team communication we needed with teams working on the same feature. We solved that by having on team with one standup. However to have 30 people in a standup meant that no information was shared - the point of standup is your legs get sore and so you don't talk too long - but in order for everyone to talk there was only time for status, not the details of what is wrong.

I recognize the problem (yesterday). I'm looking for a solution.

I could have sworn i answered this already but now don't see it. 

You don't need to do this for all the teams.

the product owners get together to decide the slices given to the team.

Then they talk to their respective teams.

The teams then can communicate amongst each other with one rep from each team - kind of like Scrum-of-Scrums - which works well for communication, not decision making.

Al Shalloway

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