Popular Enterprise Agile Frameworks

By Doug Rose

Just as agile has several different frameworks for structuring the way teams function, enterprise agility has a selection of frameworks that provide direction for how teams work together on enterprise solutions. Currently, about a dozen well-established frameworks are available, and each one takes a different approach. Collectively, these methodologies form a cafeteria of ideas from which organizations can choose based on the organization’s existing culture and the culture it wants to establish moving forward.

Following are five of the most popular frameworks:

  • Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD): A process decision framework, DAD encourages you to make certain choices at different points in product delivery, but doesn’t prescribe any specific process to follow to make your organization agile. Instead of prescribing a process, it offers general guidance such as, “Here are the goals, and here are a few approaches for meeting each of those goals, and here’s some guidance to help you choose the best approach.” You’re free to choose any framework and practices to mix and match, or create your own.
  • Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS): A framework that contains many of the elements familiar in Scrum at the team level, including sprint planning, backlogs (prioritized lists of work items), sprints (the basic unit of development that results in an iteration of the product), daily sprint meetings, and a sprint retrospective (a sort of post-mortem meeting). The primary distinction between LeSS and Scrum is that with LeSS, you have several teams working in different “lanes” on different sprints, sometimes coordinating and collaborating between lanes.
  • Lean Product Delivery: A system for reducing waste in products and processes by eliminating anything that’s unnecessary, including excessive steps (in a process) and functionality (in a product) that don’t bring value to a customer. The focus is on minimizing waste and maximizing value.
  • Kanban: A system in which team members pull work items from a list of prioritized items on a Kanban board to work on them as their capacity allows. Kanban (signal) cards are used to indicate when a work item is ready for the next stage in the process. A buildup of Kanban cards in any stage of the process signals a bottleneck that must be addressed. The emphasis is on maintaining a smooth and continuous workflow.
  • Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe): A collection of frameworks, principles, and practices that attempts to combine the best of top-down management with the best of agile. Teams work together as teams of teams (called “agile release trains,” or ARTs) and as teams of teams of teams (called “solution trains”) to achieve the enterprise’s vision. SAFe is one of the more complex frameworks, adding numerous processes, layers, roles, and tools to solution delivery.
  • Spotify Engineering Culture: A mashup or composite of agile frameworks and practices that’s anchored by a strong culture of mutual respect, trust, and innovation. Teams (called “squads”) and teams of teams (called “tribes”) are encouraged to experiment freely, release products frequently, and tweak their products and processes for continuous improvement. Failure is not punished, and learning from failure is revered to encourage squads to experiment.