Scaled Agile Frameworks – Which One Is Right For You?

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Compared with smaller organizations, which are more agile, large organizations tend to move more slowly and are more resistant to change. This can be largely attributed to deep-rooted cultural issues, namely becoming larger incumbents and barriers based on policies and procedures, as bureaucracy tends to flourish in the broader corporate environment. 

Despite this, many large organizations still seek to benefit from agile development, but they may not be a natural fit. The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is a powerful tool that can be used to help large organizations overcome problems that have a negative impact on project success.

Although this option may seem more complicated at first glance, it is clear why large organizations prefer this strategy. Here is what you need to know about the SAFe model and how to apply it to your brand.

What Is SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework)?

The SAFe method uses agile methods but strives to reduce its weaknesses and make it more suitable for large companies. It strives to make full use of all project management options to create a “super” style of project management. 

It is generally easier for top managers to adopt SAFe because they are already partially familiar with some concepts. Compared to the drastic change agile management requires, the transition to SAFe feels less intense.

SAFe is based on nine key principles derived from existing lean and agile principles: 

  • Taking an economical approach to achieve the best lead-time while providing the best quality and value. 
  • Applies system thinking to all aspects of development. 
  • Embraces the variability of markets and technologies by retaining options and fostering innovation.
  • It is built gradually through a rapid and integrated learning cycle, enabling customer feedback and reducing risk. 
  • Milestones based on objective estimation and evaluation of the work system to ensure economic benefits. 
  • Limits the amount of work in progress, reduces batch size, and manages queue length for continuous flow. 
  • The rate of application (time) is synchronized with cross domains to identify business opportunities and allow necessary corrective actions. 
  • Unleash the inner motivation of knowledge workers to realize their invisible potential. 
  • Decentralize decision-making to be more agile and efficient.

Agile SAFe Methods 

Teams often use SAFe to extend agile methods such as Lean, Kanban, and Scrum. The key is to realize that SAFe is expanding into larger teams and organizations and complex projects, not smaller projects requiring the SAFe framework. SAFe will not change the principles of other methods. 

Kanban focuses on continuous collaboration and creating an environment for continuous learning and improvement. Use visual boards and flashcards to help the team see completed, ongoing, and unfinished tasks. 

Lean Development (LD) focuses on reducing waste while maximizing production and increasing value for stakeholders. Lean follows seven key principles: reduce waste, improve quality, share knowledge with others, maintain continuous improvement, and faster turnover. 

Scrum uses interactive sessions or “30-day sprints” to determine priority tasks. You can form small teams to independently focus on specific tasks and then meet with the Scrum Master to assess progress or results and re-prioritize backlogging.

SAFe vs. DAD vs. LeSS vs. Nexus

Although SAFe focuses on alignment, teamwork, and provisioning across large agile teams, other popular frameworks can be used to scale agile in large organizations, including LargeScale Scrum (LeSS) and Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD). It is important to understand each of these frameworks so that your organization can choose the best option for your project.

Safe: Agile software system development, system thinking, and lean product development: A scaled agile framework created by the investment of three main bodies of professional knowledge. This is an accepted method to scale agile practices.

Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD): DAD focuses on the end-to-end life cycle of the product, from inception to delivery. It is based on seven principles: pleasing customers, amazing, pragmatic, contextual counting, the choice is good, process optimization, and corporate awareness.

Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS): LeSS focuses on allowing all teams to see the complete product, rather than looking at this view from a “my part” perspective.

Nexus: Nexus is a framework for scaled agile product delivery. Efforts to reduce the complexity and dependence between teams and can change the process, product structure, and communication structure. The Nexus framework defines Nexus as a group of 3-9 Scrum teams with a single product owner and a single product portfolio, similar to Scrum@Scale. introduced the Nexus integration team and CrossTeam Refinement to coordinate the work and dependencies between the teams.

Picking the Right One for You:

What will it be? 

To gives you some general suggestions for choosing the best candidate: 

  • Don’t be too obsessed with choosing the perfect match. Except for the obvious difference between Scrum and Kanban, most frameworks point to the same thing, and the main difference lies in the agility of scale they are most concerned with. 
  • If you are already using Scrum and are satisfied with it, the obvious way is to choose a framework based on Scrum in advance. 
  • If you want as little overhead as possible, LeSS and corporate Kanban will come to your mind. 
  • If you want to extend the agile journey from product delivery to the entire enterprise, SAFe and Disciplined Agile are natural choices. 
  • If you like to choose the best methods and tools for every aspect, disciplined agility may be your winner. 

Go, choose the one that suits you best.

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