Many organizations are looking at ways to scale Agile implementations, but doing so can be a particularly challenging for businesses not well-versed in Agile practices. Properly scaling more traditional Agile frameworks can be difficult for organizations with excessive personnel or an abundance of individual teams working on one or more products simultaneously.
However, not all hope is lost. In this article we'll explore a number of techniques and existing frameworks aimed at helping you and your organization scale your Agile implementations as large and as wide as they need to be. Let's get started!
Understanding how to scale Agile requires an understanding of the key concepts and practices your organization should strive for and try to implement:
There are a few reliable and well-tested frameworks that are explicitly aimed at scaling Agile beyond the needs of most smaller organizations. Below we've selected a handful of the most popular of these frameworks and provided a brief overview of each.
For organizations already implementing the Scrum framework, one obvious way to scale Agile is to create a scrum of scrums. Since multiple teams across the organization are each using scrum, a scrum of scrums is a meeting used to keep people across the organization informed about important issues across the entire company. However, this meeting should not be a simple status meeting. Instead, each team elects a representative to attend these meetings. Just like a typical
daily stand-up in scrum, the scrum of scrums meeting should be a short (~15 minute) meeting every day where teams can share knowledge and discuss important integration issues that may affect other teams.
If this practice feels beneficial and proves successful, it may also benefit your organization to perform similar cross-team meetings to perform sprint planning and sprint retrospectives. This allows representatives attending these meetings to inform the rest of their teams about potential roadblocks within upcoming sprints.
Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) attempts to create a more structured approach to scaling Agile practices than something like a scrum of scrums. It accomplishes this by defining three different levels of activity within the organization:
portfolio level contains principles, practices, and roles needed to initiate and govern a set of value streams. The
program level contains the roles and activities needed to continuously deliver solutions using an Agile Release Train. The
team level contains the value-based roles, activities, events, and processes which the team creates and delivers.
Each area of related work is known as a
theme, which maps business and architectural epics throughout the project. Business epics are user-facing, such as launching a new product. Architectural epics are company-facing, such as altering the server back end of a software application. The combination of these epics make up the
Team management and technical leadership prioritizes elements in the portfolio backlog, which transforms each business and architectural epic into its own Agile program with its own Agile Release Train (ART). Since multiple teams can work together on the same program (and, thus, within the same Agile Release Train), the Scaled Agile Framework is well-suited to larger organizations looking to scale Agile.
Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) is focused on directing the attention of all teams throughout the organization onto the product as a whole, rather than on their individual or team-exclusive responsibilities. To accomplish this LeSS actually has two different frameworks that can be implemented, depending on overall team size:
LeSS is similar to comparable to a one-team Scrum in a variety of ways, including:
On the other hand, LeSS attempts to improve upon traditional scrum practices in a number of ways:
product backlog items. Team members should also discuss opportunities to cooperate on shared work. Sprint Planning should also occur independently within each team, though it may be useful and occasionally necessary to coordinate between multiple teams.
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