Big Companies that Scaled Scrum with Nexus Framework | Part 1

Nexus is a simple framework that implements scrum at scale across multiple teams to deliver a single integrated product. Teams work in a common development environment and are focused on producing a combined increment every sprint with minimal dependencies.

It can be applied to 3-9 scrum teams. So it cannot be scaled to more than 9 teams and not more than a hundred practitioners.

In this article, you will learn from real-life examples of companies like Security Software Product Company, HVAC Manufacturing Company, and Asian Airline who are truly exceptional in their respective fields, how they transformed with the application of Nexus.

These issues majorly ranged from having no clarity on integrating their product into one, coordinating multiple teams, and scaling difficulties. These companies understood and realized where they were lacking. With Nexus, they found the ideal solution to their problems that eventually led them to the path of success.

Security Software Product Company

This is a leading international Indian company that makes security software products. Before changing to Nexus, there was only one scrum team that was working on mobile applications. They did try scrum with one team which proved to be very effective.

But as more scrum teams were added and the focus started to shift towards API development, mobile applications, and integration services, this where they felt that their work was starting to fall out of place.

These are the challenges that the company faced at the time:

  • A need for a better organizational structure
  • No prioritization of tasks that needed to be done
  • No cross-functional teams
  • Teams saw the product owner as a single authority, not a part of the team
  • Teams were not coordinated
  • The presence of agile and non-agile teams working at their own pace hindered making an integrated product
  • Dependencies were not being properly visualized

Since scrum was understood by the team, they needed a framework that was minimalistic and can be easily scaled across their small teams. They hired Venkatesh Rajamani, an agile coach, who enlightened them about Nexus. Thus their journey of transformation began.

Firstly, the teams had to become cross-functional. They had to be taught how to be self-organizing and self-managing. A single product backlog was formed. In this backlog, all the features were ordered and prioritized. This helped paint a better picture of how the sprint will go.

As a result of effective coaching, Nexus transformed the company entirely.

  • Six teams worked on an integrated increment that rolled out releases after every two weeks
  • The sprints and increments became more coordinated
  • Dependencies were minimized.
  • Product owner had the opportunity of inspecting and adapting that insured to bring the highest value in the shortest amount of time.
  • Retrospectives helped identify what was wrong and frequent feedback was given.
  • This increased faster time to market, value, and delivery

HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioner) Manufacturer

The international manufacturing of HVAC equipment in Germany needed to redesign more than 80 of their websites. They had to be implemented on to a new CMS (Content Management System) which would provide information to their customers, installer services, and data analytics. For carrying out this task there were marketing, IT, and digital agency teams.

After a year, there was no progress as the company exceeded their budget and their time limit and accompanied by the following issues:

  • They failed to create a differentiation amongst their brands
  • The teams were not producing an integrated increment. Rather they were separately focused on fulfilling their own requirements and tried to outdo one another, which led to creating internal conflicts and disagreements
  • There was a weak team and organizational structure.

With these complicated issues, they hired an agile coach. Johannes Geske, an eminent business agility consultant, who is renowned for his vast knowledge of agile, worked to put the company on the path of success. His plan was to guide the company to Nexus eventually. But he had to start from the bottom. He started off with implementing scrum to one team.

The plan was to deploy a microsite that would allow the regional marketing team to carry on with their online platform in more than 30 countries. And by the end of the third sprint, this product increment was released. During this, the scrum team got the idea of creating the proper architecture and the appropriate technology to use. Teams became more self-confident and started taking ownership of the work they did.

With the success of the first scrum team, the idea gradually spread to four scrum teams thereby implementing the Nexus Framework. There was now only one product owner, who was supported by a team of business analysts and user experience experts. They frequently met with business stakeholders to discuss requirements and welcomed any feedback that would help them improve.

A single product backlog was made which had all the prioritized features and minimized dependencies. This was updated regularly by the product owner. As a result, the teams coordinated their work with each other as compared to the situation before where they were in a constant state of competition trying to beat one another. With the Nexus Integration Meeting, progress and dependencies were discussed. The scrum teams also had their own meetings where they discussed their goals and impediments.

The Nexus Sprint Review played an essential role in collectively assessing the work done by all the teams in a sprint. This was an opportunity to relentlessly improve and adapt to any changes that were suggested.

With Johannes Geske’s excellent guidance, the company thrived. Seeing how the company’s work was scattered before, with Nexus they got a sense of direction. They knew exactly what goals to achieve and how to attain them in the shortest sustainable time. In fact, their progress and quality of work improved so much that the websites were made 3 months earlier before their deadline.

Asian Airline

In 2012, the company’s leadership felt that they needed to implement agile methodologies into their company. They felt that they needed to become more adaptive and swift to changing requirements.

They started off with having one scrum team that focused on developing the airline’s loyalty mobile application. Seeing how their productivity increased with the scrum team, more scrum teams were added. By January 2015, there were four scrum teams. These scrum teams focused on the front and back end, user experience design and testing of the mobile application.

The scrum teams were doing great on their own, but when it came to producing a single product that is where their problems began. This ranged from:

  • Difficulty in integrating the work of multiple teams into one
  • Multiple dependencies
  • Inability to scale the teams

They needed guidance and a solution for their existing problems. This is where they reached out to Lorenz Cheung, who is a seasoned agile coach and a professional scrum trainer based in Hong Kong. He guided the company towards the Nexus Framework. He observed that the company had an idea of how scrum worked so he used that as a foundation to build Nexus. He educated the company’s employees on the practices and ceremonies of the Nexus framework such as Nexus sprint planning, Nexus daily scrum, Nexus sprint review, Nexus retrospective, and refinement.

And an integral part of the framework was the Nexus integration team that guaranteed that an integrated increment was made every time. And lastly, Nexus would allow the teams to view and remove their dependencies.
With Nexus, the four scrum teams prospered. The teams were working at their own pace and at the end of every sprint, the product was being integrated into one and on time. Dependencies were being sought and removed efficiently. Product owners eagerly participated with the stakeholders and took feedback in the form of surveys. This helped them focus on continuously improving to meet their customer’s requirements.

Before Nexus the integrated increment was delivered after eight weeks. But after the implementation of Nexus, the deliverable was made after every two to four weeks. Their rate of release became stable and consistent and by accepting feedback earlier, they were quick to change according to their requirements.

Part II of this series can be found here.
The resources have been obtained from Scrum.org

If you’re interested in having a comparative review of different scaling agile frameworks, click here.

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