Scrum in a BAU environment?

Monday, March 16, 2015
posted by daveb

Allow me to share a question, and my response to it on Linked-In’s Agile Coaching group.

Q:

Do you have any ideas or suggestions on how to improve the team focus while the Scrum (Ops) team works on several changes that sometimes don’t have a relationship?

Context: A mainframe environment of >6500 COBOL programmes where several highly complex regulations are gathered in one system.

A:

We have a very similar problem – one Product Backlog, one Scrum Team but the work that some team members do has little to no impact on what other team members do, to the point where they have independent test/release cycles. There’s probably 3-4 separate sub-teams, sometimes with overlapping resources, working on separate products that occasionally interact.

In Scrum terms, Scrum of Scrums is the advice on how to scale Scrum. This may be of benefit to you if you have say > 20 people involved, but for us with 9, it seems like too much ceremony.

I think there is perhaps an absence of good advice from Scrum around how to run Scrum with a small team & a diverse range of products. Scrum can still work, but there’s more waste in the form of exposure to communications that have no bearing on your work.

I would question whether Scrum is the right fit. Scrum has a sweet spot that is around complex (single) product development efforts with team(s) of 3-9 members, where much of the work is in-sourced, and the team is co-located.

It may also be worth looking at Kanban which has its sweet spot in product maintenance and support, because, chances are, if you have a small team and a diverse product portfolio to manage, you are in BAU mode.



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