SCRUM at a big scale - here's how

Posted by Strypes on Dec 21, 2018 4:59:35 PM

Agile project management is the new norm in most companies that develop and sell their own product to clients or work on large-scale systems for internal usage. Agile aims to optimize the software development process by accommodating delivery of finished work in increments and testing each increment before it’s released. This model also encourages transparency.

All interested parties are welcomed to participate in the cycle - even the end client. Merging increased productivity with tight stakeholder collaboration ensures shorter time-to-market and higher customer satisfaction.

SCRUM is the most popular hands-on implementation of the Agile philosophy. It’s a product development and delivery framework for small companies that have a proprietary product and long-term goals for its evolution.

In SCRUM, development is done by small, self-organized cross-functional teams. The workflow is split into short time fragments, called “sprints”. A typical SCRUM sprint usually lasts two weeks and follows a full software development lifecycle - from planning to testing. The goal is to deliver a useable and potentially releasable product increment after the testing phase.


Agile SCRUM in an enterprise setting = possible

Enterprise-scale companies have many teams working in parallel and delivering various product components. Usually they don’t follow any structured product development model and just use the waterfall approach. This can result in misalignment or even conflicting priorities.

Agile SCRUM is a great choice if you want to narrow your development cycle. However, synchronizing multiple teams’ work isn’t supported by classic textbook SCRUM. Having hundreds of people work on new deliverables and releasing on the go can become more of a disaster than it is an optimization. Luckily, there are various adaptations that build on Agile SCRUM model to allow even large-scale companies to benefit from the framework. The most popular one is SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework).

SAFe has SCRUM teams planning their own work, however an additional layer  is introduced above them. It’s called an Agile Release Train and it’s treated like a virtual autonomous unit within the organization. Each ART “hosts” a few Agile teams under its belt - up to 125 people combined. Their common goal is to deliver a new product/system increment every two weeks. In case a given feature isn’t ready for release, it’s paused until the next ART departure. To ensure that everyone is looking in the same direction, there are Release Train Engineers who navigate each Agile Release Train. These people can be considered the “next level SCRUM Masters”, because much like SCRUM Masters, their objective is to facilitate the cycle, remove obstacles and improve the workflow.


Does all of that sound interesting to find out more?

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