The Ideal Team Size for a Scrum Team

There is always a debate regarding the ideal size for a scrum team. The scrum guide recommends seven members plus two or minus two as the ideal number. There seems no consensus among the agile community regarding what the best size of a team may be. However, one issue that people are in agreement with is that smaller teams are more functional and productive. A quote from the scrum guide states that “small enough to remain nimble and large enough to complete significant work within a Sprint” The question then is, how small is small? This will depend on a number of factors.

Self-organization

Self-organization is a management principle in scrum. Scrum teams should ideally manage their own work autonomously. In the daily sprint, they should set their own goals. Thus, a team may be left to figure out their ideal size depending on the task at hand. It is recommended that a team should adjust its size for optimal performance rather that a process enforced adjustment. As such, they each feel that they have a role to play in the team. A team can gradually come to an agreement about the ideal team size. Self-organization is one school of thought in determining the ideal size for a scrum

Collaboration

Collaboration in a scrum team is vitally important. With effective collaboration, performance emerges. It is observed that teams that have the highest collaboration have the highest cohesion and perform optimally. It is thought that a team of 5 to 9 will collaborate and have effective interconnections. The larger the team, the more the communication channels will exist. For instance, a 3 member team will have 4 communication channels. This number grows exponentially. At 9, the communication channels are 36. This number increases exponentially as the team size increases. Thus a smaller effective team that can handle the task at hand is much preferred.

Even though there is no ideal size of a scrum team, a good balance should be sought among the various factors. This will again depend on the specific project. There should be a balance of skills, of responsibilities, of workload, of power, of personalities. A balanced approach to determining the size of the scrum team will never go wrong. This will ensure that you don’t leave out any skills you might need in making the team nimble or have so many responsibilities placed on a few individuals much than they can handle. Based on the balance of all these factors, the team should make a decision on the best team size.

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