Nexus Framework: Overview and Benefits

Sandeep Raheja

December 8, 2023

Taazaa recently kicked off a pilot project using the Nexus Framework for scaling Scrum. This move is a significant step towards more efficient and effective team collaboration. 

We build large, complex, custom software solutions. Our work requires multiple Scrum teams working in sync to deliver high-quality applications quickly. 

And we’re always seeking ways to improve.

That’s where the Nexus Framework comes in. It helps organizations like ours scale Scrum practices for large and complex projects.

The Nexus Framework will help us coordinate the many diverse activities that go into software product development. It builds on Scrum to minimize and manage the dependencies between multiple Scrum teams. And it reduces project risk as a result.

What is the Nexus Framework?

The Nexus Scrum framework is a methodology specifically focused on scaling Scrum to handle larger projects that involve multiple Scrum teams. It provides guidance on coordinating and integrating multiple Scrum teams’ work to deliver a single, integrated product.

It defines a “Nexus” as a group of three to nine Scrum teams working together to deliver a single product. A Nexus has only one Product Owner who manages the single Product Backlog from which the Scrum teams work.

Key Components of Nexus

Because the agile Nexus framework builds on Scrum’s foundation, many of its aspects are familiar to those accustomed to Scrum. It extends the Scrum framework only where necessary to facilitate multiple teams working from a single Product Backlog.

Nexus Integration Team

The Nexus framework retains the core roles and artifacts of Scrum, such as Product Owner, Scrum Master, and the Scrum events (i.e., Sprint Planning, Daily Scrums, Sprint Reviews, and Sprint Retrospectives). It emphasizes the importance of the Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, and the potentially releasable Increment.

It adds the Nexus Integration Team, whose primary responsibility is facilitating communication and collaboration among the Scrum teams. The Nexus Integration Team helps seamlessly integrate the work from different groups and resolve potential conflicts. The Product Owner, Scrum Master, and representatives from each Scrum Team.

Integrated Increments

Nexus terminology refers to the combined work of all Scrum Teams delivered at the end of each Sprint as the Integrated Increment. A core principle of Nexus is to deliver an Integrated Increment in every Sprint to allow for frequent feedback and continuous improvement. 

The Integrated Increment represents a “done” state; that is, all work included in the Integrated Increment must meet the Definition of Done agreed upon by the team. The Definition of Done ensures the increment is usable and provides value to stakeholders.

The Integrated Increment incorporates completed work from all Scrum Teams, demonstrating how their individual contributions come together to deliver value as a whole. It should provide tangible benefits to stakeholders, showcasing progress and delivering working software.

Nexus Sprint Planning 

Nexus introduces additional events to enhance coordination, such as the Nexus Sprint Planning, Nexus Daily Scrum, and Nexus Sprint Review. These events bring together representatives from the individual Scrum teams to coordinate their efforts.

Nexus Sprint Planning occurs during a single event where the Nexus Integration Team and all Scrum Teams plan the work for the upcoming Sprint. The purpose of Nexus Sprint Planning is to align the Sprint activities of all the Scrum Teams within a Nexus. Appropriate representatives from each Scrum Team and the Product Owner meet to plan the Sprint.

Nexus Daily Scrum 

The Nexus Daily Scrum is a daily stand-up in which all Scrum Teams share progress and identify any roadblocks. This meeting helps the Scrum Teams identify any integration issues and measure progress toward the Nexus Sprint Goal. The Scrum Team representatives evaluate the current state of the integrated Increment and identify integration issues and new cross-team dependencies or impacts. 

The Nexus Daily Scrum does not replace each Scrum Team’s Daily Scrum. The Nexus Daily Scrum informs the Daily Team Scrums by creating plans for the day that focus on the integration issues raised during the Nexus Daily Scrum.

Scrum Teams can also adjust their plan outside of the Nexus Daily Scrum. Nexus emphasizes cross-team communication at any time to encourage needed discussions about adapting or re-planning the rest of the Sprint’s work.

Nexus Sprint Review

In this single event, the Nexus Integration Team and all Scrum Teams demonstrate the Integrated Increment to stakeholders. A Nexus Sprint Review replaces individual Scrum Team Sprint Reviews. During the event, the Nexus demonstrates their work to key stakeholders and discusses the progress toward the Product Goal. Then, everyone collaborates on a plan to address the feedback, adjusting the Product Backlog as necessary. 

Nexus Sprint Retrospective 

The Nexus Sprint Retrospective is a single event at which the Nexus and all Scrum Teams reflect on the previous Sprint and identify areas for improvement. It marks the conclusion of a Sprint. The purpose of this event is to determine how to increase quality and effectiveness across the Nexus by examining the last Sprint’s performance regarding individuals, teams, interactions, processes, tools, and its Definition of Done. 

Nexus, LeSS, and SAFe

Frameworks like Nexus, LeSS (Large-Scale Scrum), and SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) are all approaches to scaling Agile and Scrum, and the choice of framework depends on the specific needs and context of the organization.

While all three help scale Scrum in larger organizations, they approach it in distinct ways. Here’s a comparison of their key differences:

Focus

  • Nexus: Focuses on scaling Scrum within a single product with multiple teams. It emphasizes team autonomy and self-management while ensuring collaboration and integration.
  • SAFe: Offers a broader framework for scaling Agile across the entire enterprise. It incorporates various roles, artifacts, and events to manage dependencies across multiple teams and products.
  • LeSS: Focuses on scaling Scrum within a single team by applying Scrum principles at different levels (e.g., team, area, feature). It aims to maintain team autonomy and minimize additional overhead.

Complexity

  • Nexus: Relatively lightweight and simple to implement, staying true to the core principles of Scrum. It requires minimal additional roles and artifacts.
  • SAFe: More complex and prescriptive, introducing additional roles, ceremonies, and artifacts. It requires more training and cultural changes for successful implementation.
  • LeSS: Leverages existing Scrum principles and practices, adapting them to larger scales without introducing significant new elements. This promotes ease of implementation and a minimal learning curve.

Planning

  • Nexus: Utilizes a single Nexus Sprint Planning event for all teams involved in the product.
  • SAFe: Employs multiple planning events, including Program Increment (PI) Planning and Iteration Planning, which can be more complex to manage.
  • LeSS: Relies on individual team Sprint Planning events, but also introduces additional planning events like Area Backlog Refinement and Feature Backlog Planning to manage dependencies across teams.

Release Cycles

  • Nexus: Delivers working software (Integrated Increment) at the end of each Sprint, typically lasting one to four weeks.
  • SAFe: Releases occur at the end of each PI, which can be longer, ranging from eight to 12 weeks.
  • LeSS: Allows for more flexible release cycles, with teams determining the frequency and size of releases based on their specific needs.

Governance

  • Nexus: Relies on the Nexus Integration Team and Nexus Product Owner for coordination and decision-making.
  • SAFe: Introduces a more complex governance structure with multiple roles like Release Train Engineer and System Architect, responsible for overseeing and directing the work across different teams and products.
  • LeSS: Relies on existing Scrum roles like Scrum Master and Product Owner, adapting their responsibilities to handle larger scales.

Team Autonomy

  • Nexus: Promotes greater team autonomy and self-management, allowing teams to work independently within the framework.
  • SAFe: May impose some restrictions on team autonomy due to its hierarchical structure and emphasis on enterprise-level planning.
  • LeSS: Emphasizes high team autonomy and self-management, allowing teams to adapt Scrum practices to their specific context.

Benefits of Nexus Framework

We hope to capitalize on the benefits of a more efficient and effective development process by implementing the Nexus Framework.

The Nexus Scrum Framework offers numerous benefits for organizations like Taazaa, who seek to scale their Agile practices and enhance collaboration across multiple teams working on a single product. 

Reduced Cross-Team Dependencies

The Nexus Framework minimizes dependencies by focusing on a shared Product Backlog and Integrated Increment. This means teams work towards a common goal and prioritize items based on overall value rather than individual team needs. It reduces the need for constant coordination and communication, leading to faster delivery cycles and less wasted effort due to conflicting priorities.

Preserved Team Self-Management and Transparency

The Nexus Framework stays true to Scrum’s core principles by allowing individual teams to manage their work independently. Teams retain their autonomy and decision-making power, which fosters ownership and engagement. Transparency is ensured through shared artifacts like the Integrated Increment and Sprint Backlogs, allowing everyone to visualize progress and dependencies.

Enhanced Accountability

The Nexus Framework introduces new roles like the Nexus Integration Team and Nexus Product Owner. These roles coordinate work across teams, resolve dependencies, and ensure everyone is aligned with the overall product vision. They foster accountability and ensure all teams contribute to the project’s success.

Faster Delivery Cycles

With its emphasis on delivering an Integrated Increment in each Sprint, the Nexus Framework enables organizations to release working software more frequently. This allows for quicker feedback loops, faster identification of issues, and improved responsiveness to market changes.

Improved Quality

Collaboration and integration are vital aspects of the Nexus Framework for scaling Scrum, leading to better overall product quality. Teams work together to identify and address potential problems early in development, preventing defects and ensuring a high-quality final product.

Reduced Complexity

The Nexus Framework is designed to be simple and lightweight, making it easy to implement and scale even for large organizations. It avoids unnecessary complexity and stays true to the core principles of Scrum, minimizing the learning curve and streamlining the development process.

The Nexus of Quality

Adopting the Nexus Framework will help us tackle the challenges of larger teams. Through improved team communication and collaboration, we hope to foster greater team morale and motivation. 

We’ve always welcomed change. Markets shift and throw a monkey wrench into the most carefully laid plans. One of the hallmarks of Nexus is reducing project risk by increasing team agility and responsiveness to change. 

Our goal is to wow our customers with the quality of our work, and we expect Nexus to help us continue to do that.