Highlights from Greece (I) - The Nexus™ Framework

One of the most inspiring talks we attended at Agile Greece Summit was Gunther Verheyen´s Scaled Professional Scrum. Pop in and take a look!
By Tomás Martínez Posted 29 September 2015

Highlights from Greece (I) - The Nexus™ Framework

One of the most inspiring talks we attended was Gunther Verheyen´s "Scaled Professional Scrum". Gunther is the representative in Europe for Scrum.org, director of their Professional Programs (PSD, PSM, PSF, and PSPO) and works along with Ken Schwaber (Scrum co-creator) in the promotion of Scrum and Agile practices. The idea behind this talk was spreading the new cutting-edge framework that Scrum.org has been developing during the last two years and whose official guide has been actually released just one month ago.

Scaled Professional Scrum or the Nexus Framework, whatever you prefer, has been defined to cover all the lacks of management or broken links between different Scrum Teams working on a de facto common backlog or just developing for the same system/product (what rapidly made me think about the UIs & APIs and the different teams we´re working on this in Ve Interactive at this moment), for groups of 3 to 9 teams, having Nexus+ (a structured group of different Nexus) for bigger units.

Why did they develop this framework? Basically because the experience along these last years has demonstrated that, in the end, the Scrum theory is fantastic for single teams, but hard to work in large companies that need several teams working on the similar features or projects. Scrum just didn´t integrate a collaborative process between different teams. Maybe the only existing tool was "Scrum of Scrums", which in the end was just a workaround or a weak attempt to share a daily basis status report between teams. From my point of view, what these guys have made is the incorporation of a coaching and management layer to fix the problems of communication and dependencies between the Scrum Teams.

The Nexus Process Chart

Okay, I get the concept. Really, how does this work?

The Nexus Integration Team

So, once detected the Scrum teams that have several dependencies and problems to achieve an integrated deliverable –this is the target-, the Company should start creating a new role: the Nexus Integration Team (NIT). This team consists of a Scrum Master, a Product Owner and others that could be necessary, like Architects, Principal Developers, Senior QAs and/or DB representatives. The spirit of this team is to coordinate the work between the Nexus Scrum Teams. If these teams had more than 1 PO or PM, feel free to choose one of them and fire the rest. Nexus is profitable from the very beginning!!!

The Nexus Sprint Backlog

The different backlogs should be merged into a unique one. This gives transparency to the potential dependencies between USs, helps to prioritize taking into account these dependencies and is used to divide the work between the different teams by the NIT. This backlog is over each team’s own backlog, doesn't substitute the individual ones.

Events

Most of the events in Nexus are paired with the Scrum events, driven by the NIT.

  • Nexus Sprint Planning: the first meeting of the sprint. Here the team works out at a high level the PBIs of all the teams to find out dependencies and decides which team is going to do each US. As a result, we have the shared Nexus Sprint Backlog, with all the PBIs defined for the teams. A Nexus Goal is also defined, which will be achieved with the achievement of each team’s goal. After this meeting, teams have their own Sprint Planning Meeting. The Definition of Done is shared across all the Nexus Teams.
  • Nexus Daily Meeting: just before the teams’ daily, asking primary... do we have an integrated increment of software from yesterday? Do we have dependencies? Do we have to share something across the teams? The output of this meeting may be be used in the scrum stand-up.
  • Nexus Sprint Review: the sprint review now is done with the presence of all the teams and the PM. There are not different reviews for different teams, the goal is common, the work is common and everything is showed at the same time to the stakeholders, so that the feedback can be enriched by every member from every team.
  • Nexus Sprint Retrospective: before each teams’ retrospective, the Nexus Integration Team has this meeting where should be raised any important aspect to be discussed in all the following retrospectives. Shared issues during the sprint and problems that have to be discussed by more than 1 team.

Basically all the events of Scrum are covered now by the Nexus umbrella, with the NIT as the most noteworthy incorporation, with the aim of coordinating and guiding the teams. It’s a servant leadership team. As just one PO works for all the teams, his responsibilities can be partially delegated on other members in case of being overloaded.

If you would like to introduce Scaled Professional Scrum in your organisation, there´s a workshop of 2 days in London the next October 15-16. It´s organized by Scrum.org and it´s thought out for development leads and managers, for launching and managing large Scrum projects.

Did you like it? The learning continues here:

What is Scaled Scrum?

Tomás Martínez
Tomás Martínez
Software Engineer