Agile Scaling Frameworks

Large organizations can also benefit from agile development through a number of scaled frameworks. Although more complex than Scrum, they are based on the same principles. Our consultants will help you find the right framework for your enterprise!

Reasons for scaling

Two factors behind the success of agile methods are small, self-managed teams and empirical process control. But small teams don’t work for large, complex development projects. So how can we maintain the benefits of agility on a large scale? This is where the different agile scaling frameworks come into play.

Most companies rightly spend the initial stages of transformation gaining experience with agile principles. Applying Scrum or Kanban frameworks to pilot projects or within selected development teams enables this.

Successful outcomes will encourage companies to advocate the agile mindset and methods, so that:

  • More projects and development teams use Scrum or Kanban
  • Extensive and complex projects are accomplished with agile
  • Complete value streams become agile
  • The whole organization becomes agile

The scaled frameworks at a glance

The agile scaling frameworks expand Scrum via new structure elements for contextual scaling. In the DACH-region, the most prevalent frameworks are SAFe®, LeSS®, Scrum@Scale® and NEXUS®. These scaled frameworks are more complex compared to Scrum, and so present challenges for: leadership behavior; systems thinking related to product and organization; continuous integration ability; and collaboration among distributed teams.

Mindset and complexity among agile scaling frameworks can differ substantially. Indeed, the principle of empirical process control also applies to agile scaling. Agile scaling frameworks should therefore be implemented with some flexibility. It’s more important to use agile principles consistently, to gain familiarity with them first and then adapt them to your needs. In some frameworks, this self-conception is emphasized more than in the others. This way, learning spreads throughout the teams and across the organization.

Descriptive versus prescriptive

The variety of the agile scaling frameworks allows the company to develop an approach best suited to its specific starting point and purpose. This is where differences in flexibility and modularity play a decisive role.

Flexible frameworks like Scrum@Scale enable stepwise and cautious implementation. It can be launched and ramped up gradually, according to the company’s needs, starting with the modules that contribute the most to accomplishing the purpose.

Prescriptive approaches like SAFe® convey more certainty for inexperienced companies by providing concrete instructions and a prepared implementation-roadmap. Their systematic sequences and structure appeal more to executives used to traditional project management systems and detailed product engineering processes. However, that level of prescriptiveness adds more complexity


Change Management is essential

Regardless of which agile scaling framework you choose, the following steps are crucial, more so than with Scrum or Kanban in small projects:

  • Set up a convoying change management plan.
  • Show the necessity for change. Convince your employees.
  • Train your executives, in order to be able to support your teams as catalyst leaders.
  • Encourage pro-active leadership: executives must internalize agile principles and set an example.
  • Train your team members: provide a sufficient number of agile coaches.
  • Generate and communicate quick wins.

Using scaling frameworks enables you to realize large projects the agile way

  • Agile scaling frameworks are not contradictory to the success factors of Scrum.
  • In the DACH-region, the most prevalent frameworks are SAFe®, LeSS®, Scrum@Scale® and NEXUS®.
  • Mindset and complexity of the various agile scaling frameworks differ significantly.
  • Their higher complexity presents challenges for the leadership behavior; systems thinking around organization and product; continuous integration ability; and the collaboration among distributed teams.