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Comparing scaling agile frameworks

Matthew Heusser | Aug. 24, 2015
As larger organizations scramble to apply agile software development methodologies to the challenges inherent in an enterprise-level company, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of the different approaches.

LeSS

Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) literally scales up the activities in scrum, applying them at the team-of-teams level. In LeSS, large-scale planning takes one or two members from each team to form a second meeting; there is a daily standup that does the same as the daily scrum. The “overall retrospective,” which happens the week after the end a sprint, likewise pulls representatives from each team to discuss large program issues. On top of these, LeSS also adds open space, town hall meetings and other coordination and communication activities.

The formal LeSS Rules for two to eight teams fit on the front and back of a page; the version for product teams of up to a thousand people, LeSS Huge, is not much larger. Craig Larman, co-creator of Scrum, claims that large organizations add unnecessary complexity through single-function groups, handoffs and weak or slow feedback. “Rather than introduce a method which adds a Band-Aid on top of this…we are trying to change the organizational design to create multi-skilled feature teams. These ideas are in contraction to how organizations are usually set up.

DaD

While scrum assumes a team is in flight, it does not include where the team started, or how to make “sprint zero” decisions, such as the base technology platform, the programming language and the architecture. That’s where Disciplined Agile Delivery (DaD), Scott Ambler’s framework, begins, including the inception of the project, architecture and team formation, and the end – production, operational use and support. Where “Scrum” tends to assume a team exists in maintenance mode, DaD does not, giving the team time to decide on the platform, build tools, project schedule and the other challenges that happen for product development more and maintenance efforts less.

LeadingAgile

Based in Atlanta, LeadingAgile was founded in 2010 and quickly developed an international reputation as a company that provides executive level consulting on large-scale agile transformations. Instead of a “scaling framework,” LeadingAgile provides a "transformation framework" that begins by evaluating a company’s planning goals relative to predictability or adaptability. This methodology also asks if product functionality is expected to Emerge (discovery based on market need) or Converge (delivering specific requirements and features at pre-determined intervals).

LeadingAgile then offers guidance to improve delivery based upon what is driving the business today, while establishing a foundation to achieve where the IT organization needs to be to support the business tomorrow. The company organizes groups of teams into “expeditions,”which move progressively through “basecamps,” developing the skills need to improve business outcomes over time. CEO Mike Cottmeyer calls this a “transformation roadmap,” because LeadingAgile focuses on aligning objectives, creating transparency and improving business performance over implementing abstract models and rules.

 

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