The size of a Scrum team is typically between 3 and 9 members. This is based on the principles of the Scrum framework, which emphasizes small, cross-functional teams that work together to deliver a product increment.
In a nutshell, when deciding on the size of a Scrum team, it’s important to consider:
- The complexity of the product and the skills of the team members. A larger team may be needed for a complex product, while a smaller team may be more appropriate for a simpler product.
- The team’s ability to work together effectively. A team that is too large may struggle with communication and coordination, while a team that is too small may have limited capabilities.
Ultimately, the size of a Scrum team should be determined through experimentation, with adjustments made as necessary to ensure that the team is able to deliver a high-quality product increment.
Now let’s delve into the subject in more detail.
What should we do if the Scrum team becomes too large?
In situations where the Scrum Team exceeds ten members, creating multiple Scrum Teams to collaborate on the project becomes a viable option. Larger or more complex projects often fall under the purview of programs or portfolios. The Scrum framework can be adapted effectively to manage programs and portfolios, drawing on its logical guidelines and principles to oversee projects of varying sizes, even spanning different geographic locations and organizations. For substantial projects, multiple Scrum Teams may work in parallel, necessitating synchronization and streamlined information flow to enhance communication.
Now, before taking any decision you should ask these questions to the team:
- Is there any issue with productivity within the team?
- Do you think you can be more productive by reducing the team?
- If you had to divide the team, do you think that the two different teams would have the necessary skills to deliver complex solutions?
- Do you need more developers to achieve the set targets?
- Can communication be improved within the team?
- Are there any moments where developers are idle during the sprint waiting for a task they can manage? Note: A backend developer might not be able to accomplish front-end tasks that are in the Sprint Log or junior members not have any more simple tasks to do.
- Are there any developers who feel neglected within the team and they always finish up with less interesting tasks?
- Do you feel that junior developers are growing enough within the team?
If most of your answers to the above questions are YES, then you should consider splitting up the team. However, it is imperative that the Scrum Team possesses all the necessary skills required for project execution, alongside fostering a high level of collaboration to maximize productivity, thereby minimizing the need for extensive coordination.
How do you split a Scrum team, if the Scrum team becomes too large?
The ideal Scrum Team size falls within the range of six to ten members, striking a balance between skill diversity and easy collaboration. One notable advantage of maintaining a team within this size range is that communication and management tend to be straightforward and demand minimal effort. Some action points worth considering before splitting teams are:
- Hiring a new PO and Scrum Master. When having multiple Scrum teams, you might need to hire another Product Owner, Scrum Master and some other developers to form a complete group. If you decide on using the same PO and SM for both teams, then they will need to attend the Scrum events of both teams. This might become a bigger problem if the Scrum for both teams starts and finishes on the same day as having two Sprint Planning events in one day might be exhausting for a PO.
- Hiring developers. Which members are vital for the completion of the sprint? Are there any members of the Scrum team who are vital for the completion of the sprint? Is there anyone else who can do his job or do you need to hire someone for the second team?
- Sick and Vacation leave. Are there members who tend to have longer absences due to health or vacation? Are there developers who go on vacation together? If the answer is YES, you should consider putting them in different teams. Smaller teams are more susceptible to disruptions caused by the absence of a team member, even for short durations. To mitigate this issue, it may be worthwhile for team members to possess expertise beyond their specific roles, although achieving this can be challenging and may vary based on project type, industry, and organization size.
- Designate backup personnel. It is also advisable to designate backup personnel who can step in when a team member needs to leave the Scrum Team.
- Scrum teams typically consist of 3 to 9 members according to Scrum framework principles.
- Team size should consider product complexity and collaboration effectiveness.
- Experiments should determine the ideal team size for high-quality product delivery.
- If a team exceeds 10 members, consider forming multiple teams for large or complex projects.
- Assess productivity, skills, and backup plans before splitting a team; hiring new roles may be necessary, especially if essential team members are identified.