Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Impediment Removal Team: Scrum on an Enterprise scale

With a view towards improving our agile implementation on an enterprise level, I recently formed an Impediment Removal team within my department, with the goal of resolving any blockers which can’t otherwise be removed by our teams on their own. The scope is any impediment which the scrum master or scrum-of-scrums has tried to resolve on their own, but is getting no traction. 

The group is the next layer up from the scrum-of-scrums held in each product team and acts as a funnel for issues into and out of the senior management team. 

Our department is made up of 8 product areas which can easily operate in silos if we don't take extra care to communicate and find commonalities in our practices.

The idea here is to resolve any impediments caused by intra-team communications or process difficulties, escalate any impediments we’re unable to resolve, and share any systemic/org-wide impediments with our colleagues in other parts of the organisation, so that we can find a common solution. The group gives scrum masters and project managers a point of escalation in the delivery chain and (hopefully) prevents long moaning sessions where the same topics keep coming up but never gain ownership or traction.

Ground Rules for an Impediment Removal Team

  • Keep it short, sharp, and focused, like a team standup.
  • A fortnightly meeting, time-boxed to 30 min. if possible.
  • Each representative brings the top 3 impediments – they should be showstoppers and apply to more than one team
  • Actions to be agreed, each item has an owner
  • Long discussions to be held offline, items time-boxed to 4 minutes each
  • An initial kick-off session to set the context, agree a communications plan
  • Each fortnight, the prioritised list is published to the department


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