What does it mean to scale agile? The answer to this question depends on who you ask. For example, some people will tell you that scaling agile means applying agile strategies to a large software development team or to a geographically distributed software development team. To others scaling agile means applying agile strategies across a lot of software development teams and to others scaling agile means you apply agile strategies to your organization as a whole. It isn’t clear, is it?
This article overviews what it means to scale agile from a Disciplined Agile (DA) point of view. To do so it works through the following topics:
The Scope of Agility
- Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD). DAD addresses all aspects of solution delivery from beginning to end, in a streamlined manner. This includes initial modelling and planning, forming the team, securing funding, continuous architecture, continuous testing, continuous development, and governance all the way through the lifecycle. The framework includes support for multiple delivery lifecycles, including but not limited to a basic/agile lifecycle based on Scrum, a lean lifecycle based on Kanban, and a modern agile lifecycle for continuous delivery.
- Disciplined DevOps. Disciplined DevOps is the streamlining of IT solution development and IT operations activities, and supporting enterprise-IT activities, to provide more effective outcomes to an organization.
- Disciplined Agile IT (DAIT). As the name suggests DAIT addresses how to apply agile and lean strategies to all aspects of IT. This includes IT-level activities such as enterprise architecture, data management, portfolio management, IT governance, and other capabilities.
- Disciplined Agile Enterprise. A Disciplined Agile Enterprise is able to anticipate and respond swiftly to changes in the marketplace. It does this through an organizational culture and structure that facilitates change within the context of the situation that it faces. Such organizations require a learning mindset in the mainstream business and underlying lean and agile processes to drive innovation.
Agility at Scale
The Disciplined Agile (DA) framework distinguishes between two types of “agility at scale”:
- Tactical agility at scale. This is the application of agile and lean strategies on individual Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) teams. The goal is to apply agile deeply to address all of the complexities, what we call scaling factors, appropriately.
- Strategic agility at scale. This is the application of agile and lean strategies broadly across your entire organization. From an IT point of view this includes Disciplined DevOps and Disciplined Agile IT in general. From an enterprise point of view this includes all divisions and teams within your organization, not just your IT department.
Tactical Agility at Scale
Tactical agility at scale is the application of agile and lean strategies on individual Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) teams. The following figure summarizes the scaling factors that will affect your efforts to tactically scale agile on IT delivery teams. This includes the ability to apply agile on teams of all sizes, on teams that are geographically distributed, on teams facing regulatory compliance, on teams addressing a complex domain (problem space), on teams applying a complex technologies, on teams where outsourcing may be involved, and combinations thereof. An important implication of this is that because you are likely to have delivery teams facing different situations, these teams will be following different tailorings of the Disciplined Agile framework – context counts.
Figure 2. Complexity factors of the Software Development Context Framework (SCF).
Strategic Agility at Scale
Strategic agility at scale is the application of agile and lean strategies broadly across your entire organization. From an IT point of view this includes all four levels depicted in Figure 1 above.