Introduction to Large Scale Scrum
One of the most popular and widely used methods of software development is the Agile . Many software companies prefer this framework so as to deliver a potentially shippable product in increments. I would like to introduce you to the new developments in Agile.
Craig Larman and Bas Vodde are the authors of one of the scaling frameworks , Large Scale Scrum (LeSS). LeSS was formulated as an answer to what they considered to be frameworks that were too heavy, prescriptive and not in the spirit of true Agile.
The principles of Scrum based on the agile methodology of software development life cycle are well known. It is widely used for small teams to help in delivering a finished product iteratively. When this framework is applied to large organizations with more than 2 teams, it is called Large-Scale-Scrum or LeSS.
More than 10 years of research and implementation of LeSS has been done among various companies to test multi-site development. LeSS ensures that you can still achieve success in the high complexity of large scale development.
The big picture:
The various product backlogs and sprint outcomes are utilized in LeSS as well but on a larger scale. A single sprint will now have multiple teams which work concurrently on sprint planning to build user stories. The definition of done and work in progress is now calculated as an aggregate for all the teams that participate.
The various meetings such as sprint planning meeting, sprint review meeting and backlog refinement meeting will now be held at once and all the teams participate in these. This increases teamwork and the methodology results in proper alignment of the solution architecture. The high-level design and the user stories are shared with all the participating teams ensuring uniformity in execution and a common focus. A team is only a team if it shares a common goal, and this applies to a team-of-teams as well.
When to use LeSS:
LeSS can be used for telecom and finance projects where there are real-time changes and data entry is happening at a fast pace. LeSS can be used by multiple teams that work across different locations but work on delivering one potentially shippable product. The mechanisms such as billing, Fraud management and mediation in the telecom projects as well as the data encryption and insurance working models in Finance projects will have an ordered way of development and testing with the help of LeSS framework.
The ownership of the product requirements and specifications lies with the Product Owner. There is only one Product Owner which helps in the improvement of business agility because Bas and Craig believe that the team itself should have a lot of input in their own backlog instead of having a person in between. Scrum masters are one for each team so the number of scrum masters is equal to the number of teams. The number of developers and testers in the team, who are multiskilled and hence perform interdisciplinary work, are flexible and can vary across teams.
Planning meeting — This is two meetings. The first one is held across teams where the Product owner lists out the requirements and all the teams pick their user stories. The second one is held independently in each team to emphasize on the team’s focus.
Daily scrum — This is held independently by each team but the other teams can be on the call to have shared information.
Product Backlog refinement meeting — This meeting is again held once with the product owner and once among each team. Other teams can still be spectators to maintain uniformity in information shared.
Sprint review — This meeting involves Product Owner, all the teams, stakeholders etc. where the finished product is showcased.
Overall retrospective — This meeting involves the Product Owner, scrum masters of all the teams and one team member from each team. This takes place to have inputs of each team WRT the delivery such as the hindrances faced and what went well so that the team would be able to plan and work better from the next sprint by improving their weaker areas and be transparent with each other by disclosing their problems during development.
The Large-Scale-Scrum method has been practiced in various countries already and these include the US, Singapore, China, India etcetera. Customization can still be done based on the organization’s needs and hence is less rigid compared to the SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) scaling framework.