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Scaling Agile and the pain points

As Agile teams grow, staying Agile becomes more challenging.

When you work in a small-ish company, Agile is easy, and with only a few like-minded people on a single team, of course, you can be flexible. But as Agile teams grow, staying Agile becomes more challenging.

Scaling Agile

Organizations that desire to scale Agile often view the main challenge as a simple process of tailoring their existing Scrum to work with a larger group of people. However, it’s not so simple. Instead, it’s recommended to select a methodology specifically with the purpose of working with large systems and longer timelines.

Pain points of scaled Agile

Let’s take a look at several common challenges associated with scaled Agile for large teams in complex settings.

1. Quality and coordination

Very often in large-scale Agile, teams tend to over-commit in order to finish their sprints on time. Due to challenging time frames, poor design choices made early in a project end up leading to a high number of defects. Coordination among these large, high-performing teams is challenging because of frequent miscommunication, dependency issues across the teams, and the tremendous overhead associated with the hundreds or thousands of resources involved.

2. Iteration length

With large complex systems, one of the most significant challenges of scaling Agile is the team’s ability to adjust to short iterations. Teams want to use their own preferred iteration length although it is optimal to have one iteration length used across all the teams. As appropriate, there may be a decision to increase iteration length across the teams in order to achieve sprint goals and deliverables. With synchronized iterations, there is less integration rework for all.

3. Defect rate

A project timeline is often put at risk due to large numbers of defects surfacing at late stages of release. A typical reason for this involves the definition of dev-complete. Developers want to complete their sprint work and claim that their code is complete without appropriately testing it. Testers come days later and find buggy code. It’s critical to have developers perform a high level of testing before handing the code over to the test team.

4. Team size

Rather than having large teams, it may be beneficial to implement small teams because they can communicate and collaborate more effectively.

5. User feedback

It is critical in large-scale Agile to receive rapid feedback from the user. Consider placing a priority focus on working in small batches with high value in order to obtain this feedback quickly.

Challenges of Agile roles

Let’s continue with challenges involving some of the significant large scale Agile roles:

1. Product Owner role

The product owner is key to successful implementation-it’s essential to have this single voice for customers and stakeholders. The project is at risk without having a strong product owner communicating user priorities across the various cross-functional teams.

2. Management role

It’s recommended for managers to steer away from teams in which individual members are specialized. In other words, it’s better to have cross-functional team members than individuals who have certain specializations. Program managers must orchestrate their resources accordingly.

3. Team role

Agile is based on collaboration among teams. Teams are encouraged to initially work together on a common vision and understanding of the project rather than separately developing a complete set of requirements at the beginning. With motivation and enthusiasm from each of the teams, smooth completion of iterations is possible.

Scaling Agile frameworks are designed to address the challenges of implementing Agile at scale, and in the next step, you will be introduced to some of the leading scaling frameworks.

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Scaled Agile

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