Scaling Agile – An overview of frameworks

Recently I’ve done a little research on scaling factors in agile software delivery for my master thesis, after a little surfing on the interwebs I’ve listed out some interesting approaches from various members of the agile community on scaling agile.

Many companies are facing the struggle to enroll agile delivery at a larger scale. To cope with these challenges, the agile community started developing different approaches in the form of specific frameworks that provide a set of guidelines and methods to scale agile delivery: the Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) approach from Scott Ambler, the Lean Change Method by Jeff Anderson, the Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) method by Craig Larman and Bass Vodde, the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) by Dean Leffingwell, the Agility Path by Ken Schwaber and the ScrumPLoP method by Jeff Sutherland.


Disciplined Agile Delivery

This process framework is “a people-first, learning-oriented hybrid agile approach to IT solution delivery. It has a risk-value life cycle, is goal-driven, and is enterprise aware.”  What does DAD value? Its top four priorities are: People first; Learning-oriented; Agile and Hybrid.

Hybrid means that DAD also draws on other, more traditional sources, especially the various flavors of Unified Process for governance and life-cycle management. Projects are divided into three phases, Inception, Construction and Transition. Compared to Scrum, DAD puts more emphasis on architecture and technical risk reduction through the designation of an Architecture Owner. (DAD also changes many of the names of Scrum, so the Scrum Master is now the “Team Lead”).

More can be found on this whitepaper, the community website or Scott Amblers website.

Lean Change Method

Managing Agile Organizational Transformation Using Kanban, Kotter, and Lean Startup Thinking.

Learn how to manage agile adoption initiatives using the Lean Change method. The Lean Change method extends the Kotter change management lifecycle with high feedback, iterative planning practices based on validated learning and other techniques taken from Lean Startup.

More can be found on Jeff Andersons website.

Large Scale Scrum (LeSS)

“Large-scale Scrum is regular Scrum applied to large-scale development.” Craig Larman and Bas Vodde set out to manage large projects while staying within the constraints of vanilla Scrum. They have developed two frameworks depending on the size of the project. Because they remain true to the constraints for Scrum, Large Scale Scrum cannot be considered a practice. It is an organizational design framework.

Framework-1 is for projects of up to around 10 teams. The basic roles are unchanged, but some the of the meetings are changed and some are replicated at the-cross team level. For example, Sprint Planning 1 may be held with representatives of each team, rather than all members of all teams. Similarly, a cross team retrospective with representatives of each team facilitates overall improvement. Teams are organized as Feature-Teams. Other inter-team coordination meetings may be added, in the form of Scrum of Scrums or Open Space meetings.

Framework-2 is designed for even larger projects. Framework-2 adds an additional role, the Area Product Owner, who assumes product Ownership of a major section of the product. At this point, an Overall Sprint Review and Retrospective is also added to ensure overall product consistency and process improvement.

Beyond Scrum, there are many technical practices which are helpful and encouraged to enhance coordination: Continuous Integration. Internal Open Source (any source can be modified by anyone), Team-controlled build systems. These become even more important for multi-site projects. Pervasive video, Free Web 2.0 tools (skype, google docs) and open source tooling reduce the friction between teams.

More can be found on this whitepaper.

Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)

SAFe is “an interactive knowledge base for implementing agile practices at enterprise scale.” The SAFe big picture addresses the enterprise at three levels: Team, Program, and Portfolio. At the Team level, SAFe looks a lot like Scrum, including of course XP practices. Not every sprint necessarily produces a potentially shippable increment, but this should happen frequently, possibly after a hardening sprint.

More information can be found on the Scaled Agile website. Agility Path

Agility Path is a framework within which people can manage the complex organizational change required to increase enterprise agility, while controlling risk and optimizing their investment. It is defined in the Agility Guide and uses an iterative and incremental approach to enable the steps of change required to make an organization more agile.

By applying the agile principles and values that have helped thousands of organizations innovate within software development the Agility Guide provides a road-map for how organizations may increase their agility throughout.

More info on the Agility Path website.


Alistair Cockburn describes software development as a cooperative game. Scrum provides one set of rules for one such way of playing the game. The Scrum Guide is the official rule book. However, the Scrum Guide doesn’t tell you the rationale behind Scrum as a whole, or behind many of its successful practices. Those rationales come out of experience, community, and the insights of its founders and inventors. The ScrumPLoP mission is to build a body of pattern literature around those communities, describing those insights, so we can easily share them with the Scrum and Agile communities.

More information on the ScrumPLoP website.