by Louis Taborda
This session describes a simple, self-organizing release management framework that addresses the integration and synchronization of interdependent user stories or the product components of multiple Scrum teams. Tracking these dependencies can be a problem especially when multiple teams contribute to an epic, There can be a temptation to revert to traditional, top-down release management, however this session describes how dependencies can be tracked bottom-up, using a shared construct we call the Collaboration Matrix, which helps multiple teams have visibility of their contribution to the epic allowing them to prioritize and coordinate their releases for optimal value.
We start by reviewing the horizontal vs vertical cake slicing analogy and use simple scenario to illustrate the challenges faced in delivering business epics that span multiple teams. Dependencies resulting from functional (horizontal) teams can make tracking progress across different sprints and releases a multi-dimensional problem – i.e. too difficult. Value delivery requires teams with different velocities and capacities to synch their component releases so the desired workable software/ solution is delivered. This challenge is evident in all Agile scaling efforts and simple, team-based prioritization and release management is shown to have limitations that can result in sub-optimal prioritization of team backlogs – or plain, old bottlenecks. The Collaboration Matrix is introduced as a configuration management pattern resulting from research into a generalized approach to coordinate the release and integration of multi-component solutions. Its use as a self-organizing tool results from the visibility provided to each component team of the dependencies and blockers to the readiness of an epic or solution release train. The matrix, with its visual (Kanban style) representation, can be used in conjunction with other scaling frameworks, including Scrum of Scrums, LeSS and SAFe, to improve value delivery even where value is obscured by dependencies.