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5 Agile Scaling Frameworks In contrast

This text is an element one among Toptal’s scaling Agile collection, designed to information venture managers of their staff growth efforts. The subsequent installment, “Agile Scaling: SAFe Greatest Practices for Scrum Masters,” provides sensible recommendation on facilitating occasions in SAFe.

Image this: At the start of a venture, you assemble a single, efficient, cross-functional staff of people dedicated to reaching product targets. To enhance efficiency, you make sure the staff is proficient in Agile. The demand for the product grows, rising necessities and increasing the backlog. You and different stakeholders notice the staff must be scaled. Sound acquainted?

Scaling permits a number of groups working collectively to take care of their agility. If there may be extra work to be finished than your staff can deal with in an inexpensive time frame, it’s time to scale. So as to take action, nonetheless, it’s good to choose the proper framework, and there are a number of to choose from. Select badly and implementation might fail, disrupting productiveness and leading to important monetary repercussions.

The framework greatest suited to your staff will range, relying on elements similar to out there funding, organizational method, and product complexity.

When Ought to You Scale?

There are a variety of key standards to satisfy earlier than it is best to think about scaling:

Are you able to handle the event with just one staff?

Implementing scaled Agile frameworks may be complicated and time-consuming, so don’t scale should you don’t have to. When your staff’s workload outweighs its capabilities, then scaling is important.

Is your staff Agile?

Maybe an important criterion is your staff’s proficiency in Agile approaches. In case your staff will not be skilled in Agile, then scaling will create extra issues.

Do your staff’s improvement practices want enchancment?

In case your staff’s engineering practices will not be environment friendly, scaling might not produce the specified outcomes. Practices similar to correct implementation of DevOps and a CI/CD pipeline are very important for consistency throughout groups. Additionally, with out standardized high quality assurance, it could be tough to check new options.

Does your staff ship built-in increments?

Scaling includes integrating a number of groups collaborating on the identical product, the place every staff produces options that work collectively. The next desk particulars the 4 potential configurations of groups and merchandise. Be aware that just one necessitates scaling.

Variety of Groups Variety of Merchandise State of affairs
1 1 One staff manages the event of a single product.
No scaling is important.
1 Greater than 1 One staff works on a number of merchandise, so a venture supervisor can both create a queue of merchandise and develop them one after the other or arrange a number of groups that every work on a separate product.
No scaling is important.
Greater than 1 Greater than 1 The variety of merchandise equals the variety of groups.
No scaling is important.
Greater than 1 1 A number of groups work collectively to ship a big product resolution—that is the configuration wherein a venture supervisor ought to implement a scaled Agile framework.

Selecting a Scaling Framework

There are quite a few Agile scaling frameworks to select from, however we’ll deal with 5 of probably the most extensively used options: Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), Nexus, Giant-Scale Scrum (LeSS), Scrum@Scale, and Disciplined Agile (DA). I’ve discovered these to be the simplest frameworks, and they are often utilized to a spread of eventualities and organizations. The next sections will equip you with the knowledge it’s good to make your best option to your distinctive scaling context.

1. Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)

SAFe is the most well-liked framework for Agile scaling. A 2021 survey discovered that 37% of Agile practitioners use it, largely owing to its a number of configurations, all of which deal with worth streams and have well-defined guides and procedures.

As a result of SAFe is used to ship complicated options that require greater than 50 individuals, it organizes groups into agile launch trains (ARTs). To synchronize the groups in an ART, SAFe makes use of program increment iterations—just like Scrum sprints—and every iteration sometimes lasts eight to 12 weeks. This method permits product managers to remain targeted on the general targets and oversee a posh product roadmap effectively with out introducing extreme adjustments.

SAFe relies on the Scrum framework however with a pair key variations: SAFe adoption occurs on the enterprise degree reasonably than the staff degree; and whereas Scrum provides the product proprietor sole authority over prioritization, SAFe encourages a extra democratic method.

SAFe has 4 ranges of implementation:

Important SAFe

Important SAFe is the muse of SAFe and have to be mastered earlier than shifting on to any of the following configurations. It makes use of established Scrum roles similar to Scrum grasp, product supervisor, and product proprietor, and likewise introduces a brand new function: launch prepare engineer. This particular person acts as a servant-leader and ART coach, guiding groups to align their targets. There may be between 5 and 12 groups in an ART, with every ART able to delivering a whole resolution.

Giant Resolution

This configuration sits atop Important SAFe and introduces an idea known as “resolution prepare.” It’s used when constructing giant and sophisticated options that require the coordination of a number of ARTs—doubtlessly a whole lot and even hundreds of individuals—engaged on the identical worth stream. For instance, should you work at Microsoft and have three separate groups programming Excel, Phrase, and PowerPoint, they’re all contributing to the identical worth stream: Microsoft Workplace.


Portfolio consists of a number of ARTs engaged on completely different worth streams. Persevering with with the Microsoft instance: separate groups engaged on the corporate’s Workplace, Skype, or Xbox merchandise.

Full SAFe

This configuration combines all of the layers—Important, Giant Resolution, and Portfolio—to coordinate enterprisewide staff administration.

Use SAFe If Your Group:
  • Is a big, well-established enterprise.
  • Is proficient in Scrum.
  • Has the monetary sources to rent for extra roles.
  • Builds complicated options which will require numerous groups sooner or later.
  • Takes a inflexible method to following core framework practices.
  • Has Agile management, which helps cross-boundary decision-making.

2. Nexus

The Nexus framework can be primarily based on Scrum however is extra light-weight than SAFe, requiring solely small changes that facilitate collaboration amongst three to 9 groups. Implementing Nexus doesn’t require any further roles. Relatively, one consultant from every staff joins a central integration staff that aligns work towards a single purpose. Just like Scrum, all groups come collectively for a dash planning session, the outcomes of which type the shared product backlog. To verify progress, every staff holds a day by day assembly akin to a stand-up, and the mixing staff additionally meets to report their staff’s progress.

Throughout a dash, groups take part in a refinement session to prioritize and estimate the backlog. As a result of the complexity of backlog administration rises with the variety of groups, Nexus mandates refinement periods. Groups convene for evaluations and retrospectives following every dash.

Use Nexus If Your Group:
  • Is a startup in want of a light-weight framework.
  • Is proficient in Scrum.
  • Has restricted monetary sources.
  • Builds easy options.

3. Giant-Scale Scrum (LeSS)

LeSS is nearly an identical to Nexus, but it surely has minor variations, similar to naming conventions and extra, team-specific dash planning periods. It additionally differs in its skill to be prolonged with its second configuration, LeSS Big, which helps the collaboration of greater than eight groups.

LeSS Big takes a customer-centric method to organizing improvement. To successfully handle work, it requires the product proprietor to separate the high-level product backlog into smaller “space backlogs” of extra granular gadgets after which kinds them additional—into requirement areas.

These requirement areas are managed by space product house owners (APOs). APOs specialize within the fields associated to every space and work with a number of groups on options for his or her space. Every requirement saved within the backlog belongs solely to 1 requirement space, and every space is managed by only one APO. Collectively, the product proprietor and APOs type a staff answerable for prioritizing with a productwide view.

Use LeSS and LeSS Big If Your Group:
  • Is a startup in want of a light-weight framework.
  • Is proficient in Scrum.
  • Has restricted monetary sources.
  • Builds complicated options which will require numerous groups sooner or later.

4. Scrum@Scale

Scrum@Scale is an extension of Scrum and certain the simplest framework to be taught and perceive. It scales from one staff to a staff of groups.

A core element of the framework is the Scrum of Scrums (SoS). Every staff chooses a person to symbolize them in SoS conferences, which often happen day by day after the person staff stand-ups. The goal of every day’s SoS assembly is to help coordination and communication amongst groups, and facilitate simple administration of any dependencies or overlaps.

The distinctive roles inside this framework embody the SoS grasp, basically a scaled model of a Scrum grasp, and the chief product proprietor, who works with the staff product house owners to type a joint backlog for the SoS.

Scrum@Scale is much less prescriptive than different frameworks, permitting organizations to scale at their very own tempo. If the variety of groups continues to develop and SoS conferences turn into too giant, organizations can escalate the framework right into a Scrum of Scrum of Scrums (SoSoS).

Use Scrum@Scale If Your Group:
  • Is a big enterprise.
  • Requires a versatile method to scaling.
  • Is proficient in Scrum.
  • Builds complicated options which will require numerous groups sooner or later.

5. Disciplined Agile (DA)

DA differs from the opposite frameworks in that it acts extra as a toolbox from which you’ll be able to select probably the most applicable scaling methods, reasonably than a inflexible framework with guidelines you could obey. It’s a context-driven hybrid of varied frameworks, together with Scrum and Kanban, that may be tailor-made to the wants of every venture, centered on the precept “Selection is sweet.” DA is constructed on the concept each staff and group is exclusive in its dimension, distribution, and area, and every staff member is exclusive too, with their very own expertise and experiences.

It may be utilized on the software program improvement staff degree or enterprisewide. For the latter, the DA toolkit identifies what numerous enterprise features—similar to finance, IT operations, and vendor administration—ought to tackle, and presents a spread of choices for doing so.

DA distinguishes three venture phases—Inception, Building, and Transition—and every contains delivery-oriented course of targets. As a result of this framework focuses on the total supply life cycle, versus simply the construct, it introduces extra roles than the opposite frameworks. The first roles, discovered on each DA staff, are stakeholder, staff member, staff lead, product proprietor, and structure proprietor. There are additionally 5 supporting roles, usually used on a brief foundation to help scaling: specialist, area skilled, technical skilled, impartial tester, and integrator.

DA can be utilized on prime of the opposite frameworks to scale additional.

Use DA If Your Group:
  • Is a big, well-established enterprise.
  • Is Agile however doesn’t adhere to Scrum particularly.
  • Requires a extra versatile method.
  • Has the monetary sources to rent for extra roles.

Select Rigorously and Scale Slowly

Scaling Agile groups and seamlessly integrating their work is tough however may be made simpler by selecting the right framework. Use the flowchart under as a primary step to information your decision-making course of.

A flowchart in which each question has a yes or no option. The first question is “Is your organization proficient in Scrum?” The no option leads to  an answer, “DA.” The yes option leads to a second question, “Does your organization build complex solutions?” The no option for this question leads to an answer, “Nexus.” The yes option leads to a third question, “Is your organization a startup?” The yes option for this question leads to an answer, “LesSS/LeSS Huge.” The no option leads to a fourth question, “Does your organization require a flexible approach?” The yes option for this question leads to an answer, “Scrum@Scale.” The no option also leads to an answer, “SAFe.”
Selecting the best framework is dependent upon a variety of variables.

I’m assured that you just’ll discover the scaling framework that fits your group’s expertise, method, funds, and merchandise amongst these offered right here. Whichever framework you select, it’s very important to not rush—scale incrementally to attenuate disruption and plan adjustments properly upfront.

Have you ever utilized these frameworks in any of your scaling actions? Inform us about your experiences within the feedback part.

Learn the following installment of Toptal’s Agile scaling collection, “Agile Scaling: SAFe Greatest Practices for Scrum Masters.”



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