Zooming in to Large Scale Scrum

Ruth Hadari
Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert
Posted on
Aug 1, 2022
Updated on
Aug 1, 2022
Table of Content

Agile teams include diverse professionals such as Scrum Masters, Product Owners, software developers, and others who work collaboratively to address complex issues and deliver valuable products. Scrum is one of the most popular agile methodologies through which teams build, deliver, and cultivate complex products that meet end-users’ needs.

Until recently, we have effectively addressed scaling Scrum within the business through Large Scale Scrum, or LeSS. Traditionally, Scrum focused on small teams where various Agile engineering techniques and R&D project managers were responsible for delivering projects. The decision to change the organizational design in order to meet the Scrum framework requirements on a larger scale offers impactful results.

Undoubtedly, LeSS has emphasized “contract game” dynamics in the organization, which previously acted as impediments to increasing agility and improving the delivery of customer-centric features in product development.

Large Scale Scrum effectively scales Scrum, enabling teams to collaborate and develop complex products. For businesses or multiple teams, LeSS takes Scrums and expands them to support the needs of a large group of people. It provides tools to enterprises to make processes run smoothly and effectively at scale.

If you have never heard of Scrum or the Large Scale Scrum framework, read on. We are going to break it all down, starting from the very basic definition of Large Scale Scrum to the benefits and disadvantages.

What Is a Large Scale Scrum?

Large Scale Scrum is a leading Agile framework for software development. It’s a multi-team and systematically scaled-up version of Scrum methodology that can be applied to an Agile team consisting of individuals working on one specific shared product. It’s more conducive to larger teams who are collaboratively working. In short, LeSS does exactly what Scrum does for smaller teams: simplifying processes and improving organization for impactful outcomes.

So how would one define Scrum? Well, it’s an iterative process for developing complex products as a team, focusing on self-organization. Moreover, it has predefined roles, phases, and meetings that leverage continuous product improvements, ultimately enhancing customer experience and satisfaction.

Along the same lines, LeSS focuses on boosting productivity, efficiency, and teamwork while delivering value and reducing wasted time. Its simplicity has earned it the title of “barely sufficient” framework – and definitely not in the negative sense.

Let’s have a closer look at how It works.

The Inner Workings of Large Scale Scrum

The LeSS framework was forged after almost 600 experiments focused on growing the practice of Scrum, in contrast to the previous habit of only supporting the small, collocated group. Moreover, LeSS rules were released in an attempt to better define and offer guidance on the implementation and execution of LeSS. In short, it’s about making adoption easier. 

In order to ensure companies succeed in delivering projects, desired outcomes and continue to operate efficiently, here are the principles, frameworks, and guides that are part of the LeSS framework:

Principles

LeSS comprises 10 principles helping the team apply value, elements, and overall purpose of Scrum within an organization. Undoubtedly, LeSS principles help establish a more responsible team with better collaboration and focus on learning, transparency, and customer-centric value delivery.

Here is the complete list of the 10 principles which are part of the LeSS framework:

1.       Large Scale Scrum is simply Scrum

2.       Empirical process control

3.       Transparency

4.       Doing more with less

5.       Focus on whole-product

6.       Customer-centric

7.       Continuous improvement towards perfection

8.       Queuing theory

9.       Systems thinking

10.   Lean thinking

Frameworks

LeSS frameworks come in two configurations – LeSS Basic, which handles 2 to 8 teams, with a maximum of 50 people, and LeSS Huge, which is great for more than 8 teams, having 50 to 6000 members.

LeSS Basic

Companies should begin with the LeSS Basic framework, as it allows space to experiment, experience, and gain feedback before jumping to LeSS Huge.

LeSS Huge

It starts with the LeSS Basic foundation in place and adds more key roles and responsibilities to the Area Product Owner (APO). Plus, the additional meeting ecosystem and artifacts also undergo major changes.

In order to successfully adopt LeSS Huge, companies can either focus on one requirement area within the larger product or gradually expand the scope of the team and product development.

Guidelines

The LeSS guides are simply recommendations generated by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde, the authors of the LeSS methodology. Guidelines are quite helpful in understanding different ways that support the adoption of the LeSS framework, roles, and responsibilities. It also helps with better integration and collaboration among teams.

Experiments

The Large Scale Scrum was built on “Scaling Lean & Agile Development” and “Practices for Scaling Lean & Agile Development,” two of the best books on the subject. These experiments were approved by some companies while others tried to avoid them, and others still had mixed results.

Roles

LeSS doesn’t require Team Leads or Project Managers. Instead, all of these responsibilities are managed by the Product Owner. The Scrum Master assists Product Owners in decision making while teaching Scrum Teams the value of a Sprint.

The Scrum Team members do the actual work of developing the product during the Sprint, where the team holds sprint review meetings to analyze the changes needed to be made within the product.

Large Scale Scrum Vs. Scrum

A quite common debate is deciding which is better, Scrum or LeSS. Bear in mind that LeSS is a better version of Scrum, so in its true spirit, there is no competition between the two.

Large Scale Scrum implements the foundation and principles of Scrum in a larger context to scale it in order to meet the larger team and company’s needs.

The LeSS Basic configuration resembles Scrum a lot as both involve a single product backlog, Product Owner, and Definition of Done. Despite having one product owner and product backlog, the result in LeSS is achieved through more than one team. Even though several groups are involved in LeSS Basic, all teams collaboratively work just like in a Scrum to deliver shared goals and product development at the end of a Sprint. 

LeSS Huge, on the other hand, comprises expanded Product Owner roles where it must coordinate and collaborate across a set of teams. The delivery involves a single team product backlog refinement meeting conducted by the Product Owner.

Besides this, sprint planning in LeSS is divided into two steps: Firstly, all team members come together to determine product backlog items. Secondly, teams plan their entire Sprint while communicating and coordinating with other team members to deliver product backlog items.

Benefits of Large Scale Scrum Framework

The fundamental focus of Large Scale Scrum is not establishing a diverse methodology or framework; rather, it’s simple to apply the existing Scrum principles, helping the team to better coordinate and deliver a customer-centric solution.

Here are some of its major benefits:

-          It’s quite easier to implement as many organizations have already adopted Scrum

-          The Product Owner understands the LeSS framework, methodologies, and principles when communicating with technical and business teams

-          It has a simpler framework with fewer people to deliver the final complex product

-          It focuses on customer-centric value and develops products based on their feedback

-          The retrospective meetings enable continuous improvements

-          The Scrum Team within the LeSS framework works together to fulfill a common purpose

-          Lower cost of implementation

-          It provides a complete product view within the area of focus

Common Pitfalls

LeSS has the same pitfalls as Scrum, as listed below:

-          Scaling Scrum requires training, and companies that haven’t adopted Scrum yet might end up struggling to embrace it.

-          Businesses that want to deploy a scaled Agile framework like LeSS must make substantial changes within their organizational structure, changing personnel and positions that could lead to lower productivity levels.

-          Scrum requires small yet cross-functional teams in order to function and deliver Sprints efficiently. Hence, building the right Scrum Team is challenging due to a lack of specialized personnel with experience in a wide range of duties.

Take Advantage of Less to Scale Product Value – GoRetro Can Help

Undeniably, an Agile framework like Large Scale Scrum is significant in assisting enterprises in scaling agility within their businesses and achieving positive results. When it comes to successful project management, there is nothing better than LeSS to increase product development speed, expand collaboration, and respond better to market trends. Clearly, LeSS can do much for enterprises.

LeSS is becoming more popular in organizations with larger software development teams. In a nutshell, LeSS is one of the few approaches to scaling agility that explicitly discusses principles, challenges, benefits, and practices for adopting LeSS. It’s your time to take advantage of LeSS and leverage the tools provided by GoRetro to ace adoption.

With GoRetro’s tools and techniques, the large teams working within your companies can leverage the LeSS framework to scale agility and implement a customer-centric approach while delivering complex products. GoRetro facilitates the Sprint retrospective process by simplifying it with a data-driven and collaborative approach.

Unleash your organization’s true potential to scale agility with GoRetro.

About the author

Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert

Highly experienced in leading multi-organizational teams, groups, in-shore as well as off-shore. The go-to person who is able to simplify the complex. An agile advocate, experienced in all common methodologies. Responsible for the entire software development lifecycle process from development, QA, DevOps, Automation to delivery including overall planning, direction, coordination, execution, implementation, control and completion. Drives execution, and communicates on status, risks, metrics, risk-mitigation and processes across R&D.

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