Scrum backlog swarming is a collaborative approach in agile development where the team focuses on a small number of backlog items together, rather than each team member working on separate tasks individually. The goal is to maximize the team’s collaboration, knowledge sharing, and problem-solving abilities to complete backlog items more efficiently. Here’s how a Scrum backlog swarming typically happens:
During backlog refinement or grooming sessions, the product owner and the development team review and prioritize the items in the backlog. They discuss the requirements, ask questions, and clarify any uncertainties to ensure the backlog items are well understood.
Selecting Items for Swarming
The team identifies a few backlog items that are suitable for swarming. These are often items that have dependencies or complexity that would benefit from multiple team members working together. Swarming is particularly useful when a single team member working on the item might face challenges or delays.
Planning the Swarming Session
The team decides on a specific time period for the swarming session. This could be a few hours or even a day, depending on the complexity of the items. The team gathers in a designated area (physically or virtually) to collaborate on the selected backlog items.
During the swarming session, team members come together to work on the selected backlog items. They may choose a single item to focus on or split their time between a few related items. Collaboration can involve brainstorming, designing, coding, testing, and documentation.
Rotation and Pairing
Swarming doesn’t necessarily mean everyone is working on the same task all the time. Team members may rotate or pair up to address different aspects of the backlog items. This rotation allows team members to learn from each other, share their expertise, and avoid bottlenecks.
In a typical Scrum fashion, the team holds a daily standup meeting during the swarming session. Each team member shares what they worked on, what they plan to work on next, and any impediments they’ve encountered. This keeps everyone informed and helps identify any challenges that need attention.
The swarming session is iterative. The team works together on the backlog items, continuously refining and updating their work based on feedback from each other and from the product owner. This iterative process ensures that the work is aligned with the product’s goals and expectations.
Completion and Review
Once the swarming session is complete, the backlog items are reviewed, and any remaining work is transitioned into the regular workflow. The team may also hold a retrospective to reflect on the swarming experience and identify ways to improve future swarming sessions.
Remember that the decision to use swarming and the specific approach may vary from one team to another based on the nature of the work, team dynamics, and the preferences of the team members. The key principle is to foster collaboration and leverage the collective skills and knowledge of the team to deliver high-quality results efficiently.