Real Time Scenario – Once upon a time we started working with a distributed agile scrum team. The Scrum team/development team size had around 13 members in the team with 11 developers, 1 scrum master and 1 product owner. Initially everything looked green, the team was getting adjusted with the new way of working in agile scrum model and team members were getting adjusted. After a couple of months we faced some difficulties in the team.

Difficulties faced by the team

Product backlog refinement or sprint refinement meeting become too long. Why was that. As the team size was pretty big, the capacity of the team was big too and hence the Product Owner (PO) had to discuss a lot of stories in the meeting. The team members started loosing the concentration at the end of the meeting and it was tiring.

Similarly, Sprint planning becomes too long. This means the team finds it difficult to time-box the events. Why? This is because there are more people in the team, which obviously means the capacity/velocity of the team is higher. So the scrum team has more stories to discuss and everyone in the team will have question which will take more time in a bigger team than in a smaller team.

Daily Scrum, Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective became longer too and it was no exception. Tracking sprint backlog was getting difficult and hence we started discussing for a solution in the sprint retrospective meeting.

Solution found by the team –

Let’s have 2 Agile teams instead of one. One team with 4 developers 1 Scrum Master and 1 PO. Other team with 5 developers, 1 SM and 1 PO. So the 2 PO of the team would discuss with each other come up with the vision of the product and have one common Product backlog for the product. Each individual team would have their own sprint backlog and each team would have their own sprint goal.

What happened then? All the sprint event (Refinement, Planning, Daily Scrum, Review, Retrospective) become smaller meaning it was well time-boxed. Communication within the team started improving. It was easy for team members to track and help each other. Daily Scrum was more effective. Finally after a couple of sprint we saw that team members where happy and it was working, which in turn increased the velocity of the Agile teams.

Takeaway – It is rightly said in the SCRUM guide that the size of Agile Teams should be from 3 to 9.

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