Scaling Agile development to large and complex projects with multiple teams can be a challenging task. As the number of teams and stakeholders increases, it can be difficult to ensure coordination, communication, and integration across teams. To address these challenges, several frameworks have been developed, including Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS), Nexus and Scrum of Scrums.
These frameworks are designed to help organizations manage the complexities of scaling Agile and ensure that teams are working together effectively. In this article, we will take a closer look at each of these frameworks, their characteristics, and how they can be used to scale Agile development in large organizations.
In the previous blog we looked at 'What is Extreme Programming'. In this blog we will deep dive into understanding 'Agile Scaling Frameworks?' through the below topics.
Challenges in Scaling Agile
Scaling Agile from one team to many teams can present several challenges, including:
Coordination and communication: With multiple teams working on different aspects of a project, it can be difficult to ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.
Managing dependencies: As teams work on different parts of a project, it's important to ensure that their work is properly integrated and that dependencies are managed effectively.
Maintaining a consistent process: Agile methodologies often rely on a specific set of practices, such as sprints and retrospectives. Ensuring that all teams are following the same process can be a challenge.
Measuring progress and success: With multiple teams working on different parts of a project, it can be difficult to get a clear picture of how the project is progressing and what the overall success looks like.
Maintaining agility: As the number of teams and stakeholders increases, it can be difficult to maintain the nimbleness and flexibility that is at the core of Agile methodologies.
Managing multiple backlogs and priorities: In a scaled Agile environment, different teams will have different backlogs and priorities which may lead to conflicts on sprint level.
Managing cultural shift: In a scaled Agile environment, different teams may have different cultural backgrounds and different ways of working, and it can be difficult to align everyone around a common process.
Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)
What is the Scaled Agile Framework?
The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is a set of guidelines for implementing agile software development methods at scale. It provides a framework within which multiple agile teams can operate together on a common product or project. SAFe is designed to help organizations overcome the challenges of large-scale agile implementations, such as coordinating work across multiple teams, maintaining alignment with company strategy, and measuring progress.
Components of SAFe
The Scaled Agile Framework draws from both the Agile and Lean principles. SAFe consists of the below basic team structure:
Agile Release Train (ART): An ART is a long-lived team of agile teams that plans, commits to, and delivers value in the form of working, tested software and systems increments. An ART typically includes between 50-125 people.
Agile Team: An agile team is a cross-functional group of 5-10 people who are responsible for delivering value in the form of working, tested software and systems increments.
Product Owner: The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the products and services delivered by the agile team. They do this by defining features, setting priorities, and approving work.
Scrum Master: The Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring that the agile team adheres to Scrum values, practices, and rules. They also help remove impediments to the team's success.
Other key concepts in SAFe include Value Streams, Solution Intent, System demos, and Program Increments (PI).
The Scaled Agile Framework provides a comprehensive set of guidelines for implementing agile methods at scale. It helps organizations overcome challenges such as coordinating work across multiple teams, maintaining alignment with company strategy, and measuring progress.
LeSS (Large-Scale Scrum) framework
The LeSS framework is based on three main principles: simplicity, self-organization, and customer focus. The LeSS framework is designed to scale agile processes by maintaining the scrum values of transparency, inspection, and adaptation. One of the key benefits of using the LeSS framework is that it helps teams avoid wastes associated with traditional methods, such as handoffs and coordination overhead. Another benefit is that it leads to higher levels of satisfaction and productivity among team members. However, one potential drawback of using the LeSS framework is that it requires a high degree of organization and discipline from team members.
The Nexus framework was created by the Scrum Alliance as a way to scale scrum processes. The Nexus framework builds upon the foundation of scrum by adding additional artifacts and roles. One benefit of using the Nexus framework is that it helps teams avoid some of the problems associated with traditional scaling methods, such as communication breakdowns and work overload. Another benefit is that it provides a clear process for teams to follow when scaling their agile processes. However, one potential drawback of using the Nexus framework is that it can be complex and challenging to implement.
Scrum of Scrums
The Scrum of Scrums is based on the idea that each team in a larger development effort is itself a Scrum team, following the core principles of Scrum and working on its own part of the project. The Scrum of Scrums is a way for these teams to come together and coordinate their efforts, sharing information and working together to ensure that the larger project is completed successfully.
In a Scrum of Scrums, each team is represented by a single person, known as a Scrum of Scrums (SoS) representative. These representatives come together regularly, typically daily, to discuss the progress of their teams and any issues or challenges they are facing. This allows the teams to share information and work together to resolve any problems or roadblocks that may be preventing them from making progress on their part of the project.
Note: Scrum of Scrums is not a framework in its own, but a practice used wherever applicable.
Best Practices and tips for Scaling Agile
Start small: When scaling Agile to multiple teams, it's best to start with a small number of teams and gradually add more as you become more comfortable with the process.
Establish a clear hierarchy: Establish a clear hierarchy of teams and make sure that everyone understands their role and how they fit into the overall structure.
Communicate effectively: Communication is key when scaling Agile to multiple teams. Make sure that there are clear channels of communication in place and that everyone is aware of what is expected of them.
Establish clear processes and standards: Establish clear processes and standards for how work will be done and make sure that all teams are following the same process.
Use a shared backlog: Use a shared backlog that all teams can access, so that everyone is aware of what needs to be done and how their work fits into the overall picture.
Use a common Definition of Done: Use a common Definition of Done to ensure that all teams are working towards the same definition of done.
Use a shared integration environment: Use a shared integration environment where all teams can integrate their work and ensure that everything is working together as expected.
Emphasize on technical practices: Emphasize on technical practices such as Agile Architecture, and Continuous Delivery which helps the teams to deliver the product increments regularly.
Encourage collaboration: Encourage collaboration between teams and make sure that everyone is aware of the dependencies and how their work affects the overall project.
Foster a culture of continuous improvement: Foster a culture of continuous improvement, and be willing to experiment and iterate as you work towards scaling Agile in a way that works for your organization.
In conclusion, Scaled Agile Framework, LeSS, Nexus and Scrum of Scrums are all methodologies for scaling Agile development to large and complex projects. Ultimately, the choice of framework will depend on the unique needs and constraints of the organization, and organizations should be willing to experiment and iterate as they work towards scaling Agile in a way that works for them.
A short video from Scaled Agile, Inc., 'SAFe Explained in Five Minutes'
Coming up in the next blog - 'What is Design Thinking'.
Note 1: This blog is part of a 100 Days of Learning Series on Web3 Project Management frameworks and best practices published on Program Strategy HQ. For more details on the 100 days of blogging campaign check out Blog 0.
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Note 3: Program Strategy HQ Disclaimer for Reference.
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Overview of the Nexus Framework for scaling Scrum. (n.d.). Scrum.org. Retrieved January 25, 2023, from https://www.scrum.org/resources/blog/overview-nexus-framework-scaling-scrum
Scaled Agile Framework – SAFe for Lean Enterprises. (2017). Scaledagileframework.com. https://www.scaledagileframework.com/
The NexusTM Guide The Definitive Guide to Scaling Scrum with Nexus. (2021). https://scrumorg-website-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/drupal/2021-01/NexusGuide%202021_0.pdf?nexus-file=https%3A%2F%2Fscrumorg-website-prod.s3.amazonaws.com%2Fdrupal%2F2021-01%2FNexusGuide%25202021_0.pdf