LeSS (Large Scale Scrum) — an introduction
Scaling Scrum, part 2. (Read more part 1 at here.)
This is part two of the series:
The LeSS framework is one of the ways to scale Scrum. LeSS finds a solid understanding of Scrum pivotal:
“… your organization must be able to understand and adopt LeSS, which requires examining the purpose of one-team Scrum elements and figuring out how to reach the same purpose while staying within the constraints of the standard Scrum rules.” — LeSS Framework on LeSS.works
This starts with the Sprint:
“The heart of Scrum is a Sprint, a time-box of one month or less during which a “Done”, useable, and potentially releasable product Increment is created.” — Scrum Guide 2017
LeSS keeps this intact:
“Conceptually there is one product-level Sprint leading to one integrated Potentially Shippable Product Increment.” — LeSS.works
So LeSS presents itself as a framework that respects the elements of Scrum and wishes to avoid unneeded bells and whistles when scaling Scrum. LeSS isn’t a new and improved Scrum:
“Scaled Scrum is not a special scaling framework that happens to include Scrum only at the team level. Truly scaled Scrum is Scrum scaled.” — LeSS Framework on LeSS.works
LeSS wishes to avoid misconceptions as if it is something else than Scrum scaled.
Below is the LeSS framework visualized:
This picture tells a lot about what is the same as Scrum and what is adjusted in order to be able to scale.
Here is where LeSS is the same as Scrum
Three roles: Product Owner, Development Team(s), Scrum Master(s)
- There is one Product Backlog, so there is one Product Owner. This is already established in Scrum, so no news here.
- There are multiple Development Teams working on different Product Backlog Items from the same Product Backlog.
- Scrum Masters serve the Scrum Teams as within Scrum.
The Daily Scrum is conducted just like it is in Scrum. People from different teams CAN join just to observe. This serves to have alignment.
The Sprint Review is also the same as in Scrum. However: there is one Sprint Review which includes all the teams that have worked on the same Product, from the same Product Backlog. This is often recommended as a good practice with Scrum, but hasn’t been made this specific in the Scrum Guide.
Product Backlog Refinement
The Product Backlog Refinement has a similar objective as in standard Scrum. Naturally there is the element add of having to refine items that impact multiple Scrum Teams. As a result LeSS comes with refining recommendations, like multi-team refinement to share knowledge and improve collaboration. LeSS doesn’t enforce them, but instead recommends and also brings forward the possible drawbacks of the recommendation.
Definition of Done
Scrum Teams that work on the same Product Backlog mutually define the Definition of Done. Both in Scrum and in LeSS.
Outside of the Scrum Events and LeSS variants on these events there are no additional practices to coordinate. The events and the concept of self-organisation should suffice to resolve all the potential coordination issues.
Here is where LeSS has different accents than Scrum
Sprint — start and end at the same time and have same length
In LeSS all the Scrum Teams working on the Product Backlog work within the same Sprint. All teams start and end the Sprint at the same time. In Scrum it is -intentionally- not described how the Sprint length is to be aligned.
Sprint Planning — Split in two parts to align
Just like Scrum the Sprint Planning consists of two parts. The first part of the Sprint planning is usually not conducted with all people from all the Scrum Teams, unlike standard Scrum. Instead every team has one or more representatives in order to limit the number of attendants.
The first part of the planning is about setting the Sprint Goal and selecting the Product Backlog Items that help to meet this goal. Just like in standard Scrum. The Scrum Teams divide the number of items between themselves.
The second part of the planning is for the individual Development Teams to create their plan to finish the items and meeting the Sprint Goal, as it is in standard Scrum. LeSS advises to do the planning sessions in the same physical room to allow alignment between teams.
Here is where LeSS is different from Scrum
This isn’t a traditional manager who says what to do and how. The ‘what’ is brought forward by the Product Owner and the ‘how’ is for the Development Team to decide. As with Scrum. However, the manager can play a role in the Retrospective. S(he) is there to improve the capabilities of the Scrum Teams and to decide upon structures and policies. This is her/his reason to be at the Overall Retrospective. However, LeSS says a manager attending the Overall Retrospective is optional only.
“The work of all the teams must be integrated before the end of every Sprint — the integration must be done during the Sprint.” — LeSS framework on LeSS.works
The Scrum Guide doesn’t mention integration as a required activity. There is a reason for this. Integration isn’t a required measure for all environments that can use Scrum. Scrum is a lightweight framework intended for all kinds of practices. Therefore integration doesn’t have a place in the Scrum Guide. Scrum gives the team the freedom to come up with a Definition of Done that fits with their current level of maturity. As teams mature, integration will usually become part of Definition of Done. Otherwise an increment often isn’t potentially releasable.
LeSS has the Retrospective divided in Team Retrospective and Overall Retrospective. The Team Retrospective is the typical Scrum Sprint Retrospective. What follows in LeSS is an Overall Retrospective. This includes the Product Owner, the Scrum Master(s), Team Representatives and the/a manager.
LeSS also has a variant for more than 8 teams working from the same Product Backlog. This is visualized below:
As you can see there’s still one Product Owner and one Product Backlog. However the Product Backlog is split into separate Area Product Backlogs managed by Area Product Owners. Each area works according to LeSS.
Needless to say that this set-up is far more complex than a standard LeSS set-up.
LeSS intends to be Scaled Scrum. The empirical foundation of Scrum and the notion of self-organising cross-functional teams should remain intact.
This is why LeSS doesn’t have any additional roles, events or artifacts. The events as presented in Scrum are largely kept intact. The Sprint Planning and Sprint Retrospective both have and overall part and a team part. Integration always is a part of the work to be done within a Sprint.