Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.
Just like in Detroit where the automakers come out with new models, the world of agile comes out with improvements on the development methodology. As we use maybe Scrum or Kanban we find additional practices and techniques we can use to broaden the appeal or scale to larger organizations. Although some people are suspicious of some of these new techniques we will let you decide. As the saying goes, “your mileage may vary.”
SAFe is an agile scaling framework. According to their website: “What is SAFe? The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®) helps businesses address the significant challenges of developing and delivering enterprise-class software and systems in the shortest sustainable lead time.” Like many of the other scaling frameworks, they look at layering on additional pieces on top of the average Scrum team.
SAFe is to help bring agile and lean practices to the whole organization. Scrum can work well on the small team of 7-9 people. Then we want to bring those benefits to the department we need to scale. The goal is to bring alignment to the organization. To do this you can choose from four different SAFe configurations. Each addding additional layers. They claim wide adoption of SAFe. “Over 70 percent of the Fortune 100 US companies have certified SAFe practitioners and consultants already on-site.”
LeSS Framework aims to take the principles that a single Scrum team uses and scale them to the whole organization. The goal is to unify multiple Scrum teams on the same outcomes as “One-team Scrum.” All teams share one product backlog, a definition of done, product owner, and sprint.
Some of the differences in LeSS are the Sprint Planning requires some coordination between teams. There is one for all teams and then one for the individual teams. A similar thing happens with the Product Backlog Refinement. This is required to coordinate work amongst the multiple teams. Also, there needs to be ample communication to keep information shared. There is a Sprint Review for all teams and an Overall Retrospective. So you can have some big meetings.
The people at Scrum.org have come up with an agile scaling framework as well called Nexus. This framework looks to extend Scrum to larger organizations. “Nexus is an exoskeleton that extends Scrum to guide multiple Scrum teams on how they need to work together to deliver working software in every Sprint. It shows the journey these teams take as they come together, how they share work between teams, and how they manage and minimize dependencies.” They aim to add to Scrum without a lot of overhead. Where some of these frameworks get quite prescriptive Nexus tries not to.
Similar to LeSS, Nexus has a shared product backlog and definition of “done”. Nexus has an integration team that is to integrate the code from the multiple Scrum teams. All of these teams feed into an integrated increment. Ken Schwaber who is a co-creator of Scrum created Nexus to help deliver value and scale the development teams.
The Grows Method bills itself as a “set of practices and approaches to integrate effective software development and learning within an organization.” They use a few concepts to develop skills in the team members and organization. They push people to experiment and have feedback loops to help practice adoption. They use the term “tracer bullet” software development to grow the product in a responsive manner.
You begin the Grows Method by taking small steps. You can start a pilot program that uses the Tracer Bullet approach. It is a small project but needs to go from start to finish. They want to touch all the roles. Begin with an agreement to try this new method. We need to have feedback in place and desired results before we continue. A progress board is helpful to share how the initiative is progressing. They want a slow start with small steps. I can see this being helpful in some organizations.
As you can see there is a lot of new frameworks available to scale agile. They each have their pros and cons. It seems that SAFe has widespeard corporate adoption. I know from doing consulting with energy companies and financial services firms they seem to be buying into SAFe. There always seems to be extensive training and consulting needs around these frameworks. I guess it isn’t easy but it can be effective.