Large-Scale Scrum

What is Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS)?

One of the popular frameworks in Agile software development for applying Agile in the enterprise context, Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS) is a lightweight way of scaling Scrum in large organizations. It builds on Agile and seeks to help companies scale from one team to multiple teams working on the same product.  It is an alternative to the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) for addressing the challenge of enterprise Agile.

The 2014 book, Large-Scale Scrum: More with LeSS, written by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde, is considered an authoritative source for understanding this framework.

Types and Principles

The LeSS Framework comes in two variants:

1. LeSS Basic – This is designed for organizations with two to eight teams that are working together. It typically involves no more than 50 people in total.

2. LeSS Huge – This framework is more suitable for organizations that have more than eight teams. You can have several thousands of people working on the same product with LeSS Huge.

If you intend to adopt LeSS Huge, the recommendation is to start with LeSS Basic. This enables you to see how suitable this Agile framework will be for you.

There are 10 key principles in Large-Scale Scrum, according to The LeSS Company, namely:

  • Large-Scale Scrum is Scrum
  • Empirical process control
  • Transparency
  • More with less
  • Whole-product focus
  • Customer-centric
  • Continuous improvement towards perfection
  • Systems thinking
  • Lean thinking
  • Queuing theory

LeSS isn’t an alternative to Scrum, as the first principle points out. The size or composition of your company determines whether you should work with it or stick to the traditional option. With LeSS, multiple teams work from a shared backlog and have the same definition of done.

Putting LeSS to Work

The manner a company approaches LeSS may not be the same as another. Some recommendations can help regardless of how you choose to apply the Agile framework. Ideally, there should be a single product owner to oversee the entire group. This will be in charge of the product vision and direction.

The LeSS group should not be made up of specialist groups. Instead, it should feature cross-functional teams. In Large-Scale Scrum, you retain common ceremonies of the traditional Scrum, including sprint planning, daily stand-ups, sprint review, and retrospectives. There are only some slight modifications to be made. For example, sprint planning takes two forms in LeSS. It is done at the individual team level and the group level, with the latter consisting of all teams.

Daily scrum meetings are held separately by the teams, but teams can observe one another’s meetings to promote proper alignment. A sprint review takes place when each sprint ends, with all team members and stakeholders represented.

Similar Agile Frameworks

LeSS is just one of the Agile methods that large companies can use for effective development. Prominent among the others are Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) and Disciplined Agile (DA).

SAFe is becoming increasingly popular among large companies with existing agile frameworks, such as Scrum, looking to scale up. It doesn’t, however, simplify organizational structure as well as LeSS. It includes extra roles and processes that could complicate things for some organizations.

Also referred to as Disciplined Agile Delivery (DaD), DA is more concerned with far-reaching goals and outcomes and less with processes. It aims to simplify decision-making for larger teams.

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