Lean, Scrum, Scrum of Scrums and Epic Boards!

As touched upon in my post about Managing Scrum Projects alongside BAU, Scrum is most perfectly (easily) applied to scenarios with fewer product owners, fewer teams with common goals. I’d even go so far as to say that it is relatively easy to scale scrum across multiple teams with multiple product owners assuming they share common goals.

The challenge is maintaining communication/awareness across the product management hierarchy – particularly as you start to increase the number of products and portfolios of products.  So, when do you use Scrum practices, when should you consider Lean practices and when should you consider using Epic Boards?

In short, any Scrum of Scrums scenario could benefit from being  hosted around an Epic board. It could not and should not replace a task board, it’s just a higher-level view of what’s going on.

I’ve identified three layers of hierarchy as a starting point:


Layer 1: This could be a simple, multi-purpose (responsible for both BAU and product development) scrum team with one product owner OR it could be one team responsible for the maintenance/development of multiple products with multiple owners.

Assuming the team(s) aren’t too big and assuming there aren’t too many owners, it should be possible to run this using Scrum, with a bit of Lean thown in (if necessary) to allow for quick response during a sprint.

Layer 2: This layer introduces the concept of managing a portfolio of products with one delivery/development team and multiple Product Owners.  In this scenario, it becomes increasingly more difficult to manage priorities and dependencies across products. With that said, assuming the portfolio isn’t too massive, it should still be possible to use Scrum to prioritise your development backlog via Scrum of Scrums, agree sprints and maybe negotiate some contingency with the Product Owner(s) to allow for some quick response (Lean) work during the sprint.

This is where the Epic Board becomes particularly useful as a Programme and Portfolio Management tool.

Layer 3: At this level you are managing multiple portfolios of products comprising multiple portfolio of products. At this stage, prioritisation needs to take place at a top-level. Sprint backlogs and Task boards become less useful, Epic boards become more useful.

I’m still in the process of trying to piece these ideas together in my head – comments/thoughts would be much appreciated!

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