Other Considerations

Learn about two other approaches when applying Agile to large projects.

Scrum of Scrums

Scrum of Scrums (SoS) is an approach to scaling Scrum to more than one team. Projects hold an SoS meeting one or more times each week. Each team sends an ambassador to the meetings, which are run similarly to the teams’ daily scrum meetings.

Although SoS seems like a logical way to scale up work performed by multiple Scrum teams, we have rarely seen success with the approach. One reason, in my view, is SoS’s choice of Scrum Masters being the default ambassadors to the coordination meetings. That choice implies that the most common challenges will arise in the areas of process and general workflow, but experience says that requirements will be the most common source of challenges. In the general case, it is more useful to have Product Owners attend the coordination meetings than Scrum Masters.

Scale Agile Framework (SAFe)

The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is an elaborate framework for scaling Agile across large enterprises. SAFe is by far the most commonly used approach for large Agile projects among the companies we’ve worked with. SAFe is well thought out, it’s been steadily evolving and improving, and it has some truly useful elements. Having said that, only a few of the companies we’ve worked with have been satisfied with their SAFe implementations, and those have been highly customized.

In my company’s work with software organizations, we’ve found that small companies all think they’re unique, and they’re not. They have the same problems that can be fixed in the same ways. Large companies all think there must be some other company exactly like them, and there isn’t. They’ve had time grow, develop, and refine distinctive technical practices as well as distinctive business practices and culture.

Scrum makes sense as a template for small projects. SAFe doesn’t have the universal applicability to large projects that Scrum has to small projects. It must be highly adapted, often to a point that it is more useful to think of it as a source of useful tools rather than as an integrated framework. If you do choose to use SAFe, we recommend starting with Essential SAFe (the smallest version of SAFe) and building up from there.

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