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August 08, 2022

5 Leading Scaled Agile frameworks: Comparison

Project Management SAFe®
Agnieszka Sienkiewicz

As enterprise-level organizations are adopting Agile methodologies to depart from the traditional command-and-control style, it is important to understand how Agile at scale frameworks compare to each other. In today’s scaling Agile methodologies comparison, we will cover SAFe®, DAD, LeSS, Scrum@Scale, and Spotify model.

Agile vs Scaling Agile

How is Scaled Agile different from Agile? Both terms are very closely related but the difference lies largely in the order of magnitude.

What is Agile?

Agile is a mindset. It is a way of addressing changes arising from a disruptive and uncertain environment. It comes with a set of values and principles revolving around the idea of iterative development. In such an approach, requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing cross-functional teams. The ultimate advantage of adopting Agile development is that it enables teams to deliver quality products faster and with greater predictability.

What is Agile at Scale?

The Agile at Scale (Agile@Scale) aims to drive Agile principles, mindsets, values, and practices in the entire company. It means they are no longer limited to employees (teams) but also apply to other levels of organizations, both horizontal and vertical. These include programs, portfolios, and culture. Also, Agile at Scale enables large organizations to address a problem that is too complex for one team to handle by involving multiple teams and departments to work on it at the same time.

What do all Agile frameworks have in common?

Scrum, Kanban, SAFe®, Spotify model… The list of Agile and Agile at Scale frameworks is very long and diverse. But they all are Agile after all which means they must have something in common. And in fact—they do.

Fixed iteration rate

In Agile project management, an iteration refers to a specific period of time during which the development process takes place. An iteration can be as short as 1 week and as long as 4 weeks. A fixed length is important as it allows for measuring productivity and helps with planning, reviewing processes, and estimating delivery times.

Iterative and incremental development

You can plan better for the unknown by breaking down the whole product development into smaller manageable chunks. The purpose of working iteratively is to allow more flexibility for responding to changes, even the last-minute ones.

Continuous improvement

Since Agile teams follow regular iterations, they have an opportunity to review the work and reflect on what went well and what requires improvement. It allows them to identify ways to improve their work and methods and reduce wasted time.

Self-organized teams

Agile methodology strips away micromanagement and encourages teams to self-organize their workflow. It means that self-organizing teams do not wait for managers to assign work to them. Instead, they determine the work that needs to be done, prioritize tasks, and manage the timelines (iterations) on their own.

Delivering value to customers

The goal of innovation and product development is to bring some value to human lives. Agile frameworks help to bring ideas to life having customers’ pain points and needs in a center of attention. It is not a coincidence that customer satisfaction is the top principle in the Agile Manifesto.

Agile scaling frameworks compared

Many popular Agile frameworks like Scrum, XP, and Kanban were created with single teams in mind. That is why they do not say anything about scaling practices to accommodate multiple teams or the entire organization. Scaled Agile frameworks like SAFe® and LeSS fill this gap by helping large groups and departments to also benefit from Agile.

Let’s take a look at a few most popular Agile scaling methodologies and compare them with regard to Agile artifacts, continuous improvement, events, practices, processes, roles, and teams.

A big infographics comparing 5 leading Scaling Agile methodologies.

And if you want to learn more about SAFe®, download our guide: Implementing SAFe® with BigPicture.