Photo of Sohrab Salimi
Sohrab Salimi

Reading time
1 Minutes

Understanding Swarming in Agile

Swarming, in the Agile context, is a collaborative approach where team members with the necessary skills join forces to complete a task that is proving challenging for a single team member. This method is particularly beneficial in maintaining a steady workflow and ensuring timely delivery. It is a common practice in Agile and is especially prevalent among Kanban teams to uphold Work-in-Progress (WIP) limits.

Swarming Patterns and Roles

The application of swarming can vary based on the team's structure and roles. For instance, a user story with five tasks could be approached in two ways. In a traditional Scrum team, tasks 1-3 might be assigned to a developer, and tasks 4-5 to a tester. However, in a swarming scenario, all tasks would be listed, all capable team members identified, and a collective strategy would be agreed upon to tackle the work. This approach opens up a multitude of swarming variations, depending on the number of people identified as capable.

Swarming in Agile Context
Here is the diagram illustrating the concept of swarming in an Agile context:

In this diagram:

  • The process starts with the backlog, where all the user stories are stored.

  • A user story is selected from the backlog for the team to work on.

  • The team then swarms on the selected user story. This means that all team members (developers, testers, business analysts) work together on the same user story.

  • Developers focus on code implementation, testers on testing, and business analysts on requirement clarification.

  • All these activities lead to the completion of the user story.

Conclusion: The Flexibility of Swarming

In conclusion, swarming is a flexible, team-based approach that encourages collaboration and helps maintain workflow and delivery schedules. It is not a one-size-fits-all strategy but rather a method that teams can adapt to their specific contexts and needs.