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Agile techniques have transformed many projects and businesses. The updated project management and delivery approach help teams work more efficiently and deliver projects faster. Managing larger projects with multiple teams is a challenge, though. Scaled agile frameworks offer a solution to this, with several well-established frameworks available.

Agile techniques and frameworks

Agile techniques have been in place for over two decades. They emerged from the software industry but are now well used across many industries. Agility better reflects the changed natures of companies and projects, with an openness to changing requirements a core foundation.

Several frameworks have been developed for the implementation of Agility. Agile Scrum is the leading such framework, in use for over 25 years. Other popular choices include Kanban, Dynamic Systems Development Method and Crystal frameworks.

These frameworks have been developed to focus mainly on single team operations. While they work well even for very large teams, they do not reflect the very different nature of multiple or distributed teams. Scaled agile frameworks are a response to deal with this. They introduce different methods, roles and approaches to handle much larger, or multiple separate, teams collaborating on the same product.

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The challenges of scaled Agility

There are several problems that come up with scaling standard agile practices. These include:

Synchronising deliverables across teams. Agile teams are supposed to be self-managing. With multiple teams, though, some degree of coordination is needed.

Splitting authority between teams. Multiple teams will struggle to operate with just one central authority. Scrum, for example, has a product owner responsible for the full development and stakeholder engagement. With multiple teams, there is a need for local control.

Different timescales. Larger products often have longer timeframes, and this requires planning further ahead. A single team may treat each iteration separately or plan just a few iterations ahead, whereas scaled frameworks plan further ahead. Some frameworks (including SAFe) also introduce an additional iteration post-release to reflect the complications of multiple teams collaboration.

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Popular scaled agile frameworks

Several frameworks have been developed to implement scaled Agility. They each approach the challenge of scaling slightly differently, and each has its strengths, weaknesses, and criticisms. The choice of which to use comes down to suitability and experience with standard agile frameworks are used.

SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework)

SAFe is one of the most popular Scaling approaches. It groups teams up into four levels – Team, Program, Large Solution and Portfolio. It is the most common choice for very large teams. It can be used with Scrum and other agile frameworks. SAFe, or the Scaled Agile Framework, is a framework for scaling Agile software development. It is designed to help organizations deliver large-scale, complex software projects using Agile techniques.

SAFe is based on the principles of Agile and Lean software development, and it provides guidance on how to organize and coordinate the work of multiple Agile teams. It emphasizes the importance of continuous delivery, collaboration, and transparency, and it provides a set of roles, artifacts, and practices that teams can use to guide their work.

As with Scrum of SAFe emphasises:

  • A focus on delivering value incrementally and iteratively
  • A focus on collaboration and transparency across all levels of the organization
  • An emphasis on continuous improvement and learning
  • A flexible and adaptable approach to project management

SAFe is suitable for large projects of size and complexity, and it is designed to be used in combination with other Agile methodologies, such as Scrum and Lean. It is intended to help large organizations with complex, multi-team programmes deliver software faster, with higher quality, and with greater transparency and collaboration.

LeSS (Large Scale Scrum)

LeSS is another popular framework for scaling Agile software development. Like Scrum, Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS) is a framework . It is based on the principles of the Scrum framework and is designed to help organizations deliver large-scale, complex software projects using Agile techniques. LeSS builds directly on top of the Scrum framework, so it is good for organisations using Scrum. It aims to add minimal additional requirements over standard Scrum. Teams, for example, share the same Product Owner and Product Backlog. Meetings run at the same time for each team.

LeSS is based on the idea that large-scale projects can be broken down into smaller, more manageable pieces, and that teams can work on these pieces in parallel to accelerate delivery. It provides guidance on how to organize and coordinate the work of multiple Scrum teams, and it emphasizes the importance of transparent communication and collaboration across all levels of the organization.

As with Scrum, some key focus points of LeSS include:

  • A focus on delivering working software incrementally and iteratively
  • A focus on collaboration and transparency across all levels of the organization
  • An emphasis on continuous improvement and learning
  • A flexible and adaptable approach to project management

LeSS is suitable for projects of growing size and complexity, and it can be used in combination with other Agile methodologies, such as Scrum and Lean. It is intended to help organizations deliver software faster, with higher quality, and with greater transparency and collaboration.

Nexus

Nexus is a framework for scaling Agile software development. It is based on the principles of the Scrum framework and is designed to help organizations deliver large-scale, complex software projects using Agile techniques.

Nexus is based on the idea that large-scale projects can be broken down into smaller, more manageable pieces, and that teams can work on these pieces in parallel to accelerate delivery. It provides guidance on how to organize and coordinate the work of multiple Scrum teams, and it emphasizes the importance of transparent communication and collaboration across all levels of the organization.

Unsurprisingly Nexus also features:

  • A focus on delivering working software incrementally and iteratively
  • A focus on collaboration and transparency across all levels of the organization
  • An emphasis on continuous improvement and learning
  • A flexible and adaptable approach to project management

Nexus is suitable for large projects or programmes, and it can be used in combination with other Agile approaches and frameworks. It is intended to help organizations deliver multi-team programmes and projects quickly, with higher quality, and with greater transparency and collaboration.

Conclusion

Agile scaling frameworks and methodologies are a great way to manage large projects and programmes, but it’s important to understand which method is right for you and your team. We recommend trying out some different approaches before committing to one particular methodology.

If you’d like to learn more why not check out some of our fully interactive, zero powerpoint trainings below!

Further Agile Scrum Training

 Online Professional Scrum Master Training I (PSMI)

 Online Professional Scrum Master Training II (PSMII)

 Online Professional Scrum Product Owner (PSPO)

 Professional Scrum Product Owner Advanced (PSPO-A)

 Online Professional Agile Leadership Essentials (PAL-E)

 Applying Professional Scrum (APS)