The Advantages of Swarming and Pair Programming in Agile/Scrum

Laura Jennings
December 22, 2023
5 min read

As we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of Agile/Scrum, one phrase echoes loud:

"Great things in business are never done by one person; they're done by a team." - Steve Jobs.

There is, without a doubt, a growing need for practices that promote team collaboration and efficient problem-solving. Today, I'd like to shine a spotlight on two such practices that have the potential of transforming the way we work: Swarming and Pair Programming.


Swarming is when the entire team unites to resolve a single issue or story before moving onto the next. It's a blend of minds focusing on one goal, breaking down silos and handoffs.


Pair Programming is when two developers sharing a workstation, one 'driving' (coding) and the other 'navigating' (reviewing the code in real-time). Roles are interchanged frequently, fostering a culture of knowledge sharing and error reduction.

Here are three key advantages of these practices!

  1. Enhanced Problem Solving: Both practices encourage a blend of diverse perspectives, leading to innovative solutions. These practices prove that two (or more) brains are better than one when navigating complex challenges.
  2. Improved Code Quality and Knowledge Transfer: In Pair Programming, continuous peer review helps catch bugs early, while promoting a shared understanding of the codebase. Swarming, on the other hand, ensures the entire team is up to speed with project progression, ensuring no member is left behind.
  3. Increased Team Cohesion and Morale: Working together not only strengthens relationships, and improves communication, but it also fosters a supportive environment that boosts team morale. As a bonus, it's also a great way to onboard new team members.

Wondering how to implement Swarming and Pair Programming in your team? Begin by cultivating a culture of openness and collaboration, making it the norm for team members to share ideas and seek help. Choose a critical, complex, and valuable story or bug to swarm over. For Pair Programming, select tasks that would benefit from extra scrutiny. To nurture these practices, consider making them a part of your team's routine. Schedule weekly, biweekly, or monthly swarming and pair programming sessions - this consistency can drive knowledge sharing, skill development, and team synergy.

Remember, the Agile/Scrum journey is not about working harder, but smarter. Teams can embrace the power of Swarming and Pair Programming to unlock the collective intelligence of your team and elevate your Agile practices.

The hope is that, as Agile Change Agents, we can support teams using similar practices that encourage  continued innovation, growth, and learning together, pushing the boundaries of what Agility can help them achieve!


Lean into the power of Swarming and Pair Programming to unlock the collective intelligence of your team and, as a result, elevating your Agile practices.

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